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A bad script saved only by some great Tibbett performances
The script for this movie is really bad, a collection of tired clichés. And that's a shame, because there is enough talent here to have made a good movie.
Lawrence Tibbett was unquestionably one of the great singers of the first part of the twentieth century, and definitely one of the first American stars of opera, along with Rosa Ponselle and Grace Moore. He was a handsome guy who could act, and he had real stage presence, which you can see in this movie.
And that is what saves this movie from being a total loss. Several of Tibbett's signature roles - Tonio in Pagliacci, Escamillo in Carmen, Figaro in the Barber of Seville - get captured here, so that we can see why he delighted opera audiences for two decades at the Met. The opera excerpts are never presented or explained, however; they just get performed, leaving most of the audience to appreciate the music, if they can, without any idea what Tibbett is singing so well. That was expecting too much, I suspect, and it's a shame, because the three excerpts are good performances that could have been integrated into the script a lot better.
We also get to see Tibbett sing two popular numbers, and they are perhaps the most striking in the movie: a setting of Kipling's "On the road to Mandalay" and the spiritual "De glory road," with both of which Tibbett does a great job. Again, however, there is no effort to integrate them into the plot. At one moment, Tibbett sings them as examples of "beauty" to other musicians. Then they're over.
There isn't much else to notice in this movie. If that is Virginia Bruce doing Micaela's aria from Carmen, she does a good job of it.
The rest is all clichés. Why, you might wonder, does the movie start with Tibbett's character leaving Bruce's character stranded in the countryside with a broken down car? That should have aggravated her to no end. Instead, she falls in love with his voice.
It never gets any better.
This marked the end of Tibbett's movie career, and you can see why. But in this case the fault was not Tibbett's. The script was the villain!
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