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In 1845 Vienna, Johann Strauß II - Schani to his friends - would rather write and perform waltzes than anything else, this at a time when a waltz is not considered proper society music. After he is fired from his clerical bank job because of his preoccupation with composing, he decides to follow his passion and form an orchestra. After some famed opera singers, including Carla Donner, hear his music, they expose Schani's music to the masses, to royalty and to music publisher Julius Hofbauer. As such, Schani becomes the toast of Vienna. With his new found musical fame, Schani's life, which includes his work in the European Revolutions, changes. He becomes torn for his love for his loving and faithful wife Poldi Vogelhuber and his more emotionally passionate but somewhat destructive love for Carla Donner, who herself is involved with Count Anton Hohenfried. Written by
Tale of the Vienna composer...and what gorgeous music!!
This fictional account of Johann Strauss' life is highlighted by one of the most exquisite scenes in musical history--far from real of course--in which the composer and an operatic diva are driven through the woods in horse and buggy while the countryside comes alive with the sound of music. The pastoral beauty of the scene itself combined with the intricate way 'Tale of the Vienna Woods' is woven into the musical scene (as composer Strauss begins humming the tune along with his diva friend) is just one of the charming highlights of this MGM musical.
Swirling waltzes are captured with such superb angles in the Oscar-winning camerawork, it's no wonder David O. Selznick was impressed enough to insist that his own technical staff derive inspiration from viewing the film.
Soprano Miliza Korjus does some excellent trills as the operatic diva who steals Strauss from his wife (temporarily) until the obligatory happy ending. Luise Rainer suffers gracefully (in an insufferable role as the wife!!) and Fernand Gravet does well as the composer. His scenes with Miliza Korjus are what makes the film the gem that it is. She all but steals the film and was nominated for a Supporting Actress Oscar and then disappeared from the American scene, returning to Europe to resume her operatic career.
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