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Music for Madame (1937)

Approved | | Comedy, Drama, Musical | 8 October 1937 (USA)
A singer arriving in Hollywood is tricked by jewel thieves to distract a wealthy audience. After running away he'll have to find a way to prove his innocence to both the police and the ... See full summary »


(as John Blystone)


(original story), (screen play) | 1 more credit »
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Complete credited cast:
Nino Maretti
Jean Clemens
Leon Rodowsky
Detective Flugelman
District Attorney Ernest Robinson
Erik Rhodes ...
Spaghetti Nadzio
Nora Burns
Frank Conroy ...
Morton Harding
Romo Vincent ...
Gas Truck Driver
George Shelley ...
Mr. Barret - a Tenor
Assistant Director


A singer arriving in Hollywood is tricked by jewel thieves to distract a wealthy audience. After running away he'll have to find a way to prove his innocence to both the police and the young girl composer he's fallen in love with. One of the few films made by operatic tenor Nino Martini. Written by BSK

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis






Release Date:

8 October 1937 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Musique pour madame  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Frank M. Thomas, Lionel Pape and 'Ben Hendricks Jr.' are supposed to be in this film, but are not seen. See more »


from "A Midsummer Night's Dream, Op.61" (1843)
Music by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy
Played at the Hollywood Bowl
See more »

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User Reviews

An intriguing obscurity from the RKO vaults
19 October 2013 | by (Upstate New York) – See all my reviews

This is an interesting little movie. It's a studio musical/comedy/romance/drama meant to showcase Italian opera singer Nino Martini. There aren't too many films from the old studio days that showcase opera, a sort of high-brow cultural pursuit. Lots of flicks about Broadway hoofers and Tin Pan Alley songsmiths, chorus girls and crooners, but rarely serious opera vocalists, foreign languages and all. RKO builds the film around the Italian tenor, and Martini is likable on-screen, his imperfect grasp of the English language endearing. I don't recall seeing him in any other movies.

The story isn't something you see every day. An Italian tenor, new to America and on his way to Hollywood, is taken in by crooks who con him into playing a crucial part in a robbery. The tenor sings at a society party, thinking it'll break him into Hollywood. But his captivating performance is meant to serve as a distraction while the crooks snatch the loot. The authorities know the singer is involved in the theft, but nobody knows what he looks like out of his "Pagliacci" costume. The only way to identify the mysterious tenor is by his distinctive voice.

This creates an interesting situation. A fugitive of the law, Nino can roam around Hollywood unrecognized, but he dare not sing. If caught he may face a prison sentence, and if he squeals on the crooks he may face much worse. He finds himself unable to pursue his dream of stardom because he must conceal his extraordinary talent.

Meanwhile the police round up suspects and make them sing, searching for "the voice". It's like when the king's men went around testing the glass slipper in "Cinderella", hoping to find the maiden whom it would fit. The singer befriends an aspiring composer (Joan Fontaine), who helps him get work as a movie extra in a musical production, where it becomes evident that Nino's talent would far outshine that of the star tenor. How long can Nino keep his voice a secret? Can he continue to deceive the girl he cares about? Will guilt get the better of him? What would happen if he comes clean?

As I said, it's an interesting picture. Something a bit different, and it's got music, romance, and a little internal drama, though the whole thing is handled rather lightly. Nino Martini comes off well as the hero who tries to set things right. The guy can sing, too. Joan Fontaine is very young and very pretty. Who wouldn't want to sing arias to her? Alan Hale does a good job as the buffoonish music-loving detective, with Grant Mitchell as the frustrated district attorney. Alan Mowbray is the pompous maestro who doesn't want Nino's talent to go to waste behind bars, Billy Gilbert provides sneezy comic relief, and Lee Patrick is Joan Fontaine's pal.


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