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It Was a Gay Ballnight (1939)

Es war eine rauschende Ballnacht (original title)
1865. Katharina goes to a ball in Moscow. There she meets again Tchaikowsky, her first and only love. The young, who is now married to wealthy Michael Iwanowitsch Murakin, a man she does ... See full summary »



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Complete credited cast:
Aribert Wäscher ...
Hans Stüwe ...
Nastassja Petrowna Jarowa, Dancer
Leo Slezak ...
Prof. Otto Hunsinger
Fritz Rasp ...
Porphyr Philippowitsch Kruglikow, Kritiker
Iwan Casarowitsch Glykow, Music publisher
Hugo Froelich ...
Vater Jarow
Karl Haubenreißer ...
Gruda, Konzertagent
Karl Hellmer ...
Stepan, Butler
Wolfgang von Schwindt ...
Onkel Jarow
Kurt Vespermann ...


1865. Katharina goes to a ball in Moscow. There she meets again Tchaikowsky, her first and only love. The young, who is now married to wealthy Michael Iwanowitsch Murakin, a man she does not love, has not forgotten Piotr Illich, the (not yet) famous composer. Both are still in love with each other but Piotr is engaged to Nastassia, a dancer, while for her part Katharina cannot leave her husband. Tchaikowky's first love then decides to sacrifice her happiness to the success of the composer, sponsoring him in secret. Something Piotr will learn only years after. When Katharina finds herself free at last it is too late: Tchaikowsky is dying of cholera and she only has time to close his eyes. Written by Guy Bellinger

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melodrama | based on novel | See All (2) »


A lost love that made music for millions! (print ad for U.S.A. reissue "Life and Loves of Tschaikovsky"




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Release Date:

3 November 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

It Was a Gay Ballnight  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Finnish censorship visa # 023041. See more »


Edited into Bellaria - So lange wir leben! (2002) See more »


Romanze op. 5 (Das Lied, das einst in uns'ren Herzen sang ...)
Music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Performed by Zarah Leander
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User Reviews

Dazzling Product of Its Time
26 January 2014 | by (Cieszyn, Poland) – See all my reviews

"Die Liebe Bleibt Und Ewig Bleibt Das Lied..." ("love and the song remain forever") - with an exceptionally sentimental song by Zarah Leander, we get the opening sequence of the movie made by the Ufa star's favorite director, Carl Froelich. Thanks to great collaboration of Universum Film and Black Hill Pictures, we can admire the visuals of the movie with elaborate sets and dazzling costumes. But the assumption that ES WAR EINE RAUSCHENDE BALLNACHT (the title misleadingly translated into "It was a gay ball-night") was another purely Zarah Leander vehicle soon proves to be wrong. It is not the Zarah Leander film like, DER WEG INS FREIE, for instance. Why?

Froelich's film, which bears significance to many Russian theme movies, is an artistic communication with the viewers of the time, a very specific period in Germany when Nazi propaganda also imposed certain demands on the artistic visions. The artistic communication is manifested in three concepts: atmospheric influence, protagonist's interpretation and portrayal of two women.

ATMOSPHERIC INFLUENCE expressed in sets, stunning cinematography by Franz Weihmyr, enchanting costumes by Herbert Ploberger and music by...Tschaikovsky/Leander: It seems quite obvious that most of the movies of the period had a strong impact on viewers through visuals. Everything was supposed to look beautiful, awesome even in order to delude the perceptions of its audiences. In that aspect, the movie appears to represent the purest concept of what atmospheric influence meant. Heavily relying upon German Expressionism and the modern trends of the time as well as some of the individual visions of the director, it serves that purpose powerfully. Therefore, you can see dreamlike wardrobe, elaborate sets, little details. Music, as in most films about composers (in that case it is Tschaikovsky) constitutes a backdrop character of the movie, leads us into the musicality of the characters, controls the changeable feelings, corresponds to various emotional states. In that case, however, we can divide it into the original pieces by the composer, in particular 4TH SYMPHONY and the songs sung by Zarah Leander, in particular the much appraised "Nur Nicht Aus Liebe Weinen" - "All but no tears for love." But Zarah Leander's songs, like in most of her other performances, exceptionally handled under the director of Carl Froelich, mean something in constant relation to the protagonist of the movie.

PROTAGONIST'S INTERPRETATION: Played by Hans Stuewe, based upon Geza Von Cziffra's novel and inspired considerably by Jean Victor and Georg Wittuhn's story it is more the 'fictitious' Tschaikovsky of cinematic vision than the faithful portrayal of the composer's personality. The movie cannot be categorized as a biopic whatsoever. And not at all do I mean to refer to the aspect of sexuality (indeed, stressing the homosexuality of the composer would miss the point in the context of a movie made in the 1930s) but, foremost, to the depiction of his passions. The passions of any composer are foremost revealed in his masterpieces, in his works. Here, however, 'WORK' is an advice of Professor Otto Hunsinger (Leo Slezak) as a cure for love disappointment. What of these passions would speak to the minds of the viewers of the time if not a tragic love story, a tearjerker that made many women use too many handkerchiefs. In that respect, Mr Stuewe does something extraordinary. With gentleness (perhaps too much for an artist), he recalls the musicality and moods of Paul Henreid in a movie about Schumann THE SONG OF LOVE with Katherine Hepburn or a much appraised DECEPTION with Bette Davis. But what stands behind all this is simply the fact that he is a male character and...doomed to be shadowed by...women. The women competing for him. Something very innovative at the time. He is a sort of the Vronsky of ANNA KARENINA, an object of female feelings, a sweet motive of their sighs.

TWO WOMEN: Perhaps we are more educated as viewers who see the movie with today's experience. Two women of the film, however, arouse an almost never ending awe of inner freedom, tragic dramatizer and a way towards emancipation: Marika Roekk, the famous dancer who made an international career and delivers some perfect moments in the movie in the role of Natassja Petrowna and, obviously, Zarah Leander in the role of Katherina. While the former one surprises us with a few moments and particular skills delivered before the camera, the latter one has some predictable moments, delivers some predictable lines as an unhappy wife of a monstrous man Michael Iwanowitsch Murakin (Aribert Waescher) - again echoing classic literature by Tolstoy. Nevertheless, both appear to be charming portrayals, the women in Tschaikovsky's life, fictitious or real, no one cares but given some very authentic bases and supplied with absorbing feelings. They add the purely emotional resonance to the whole story and, in their rivalry, provide unforgettable tensions. That also pushed some limits of moral acceptability in social contexts among viewers, for sure. All, however, leads to the inevitable finale, a tragic tearjerker.

All things considered, the movie is a nice looking fairy tale, which, after all, may supply some sensitive viewers with a flair for the special period in German cinema when beauty on the screen had its motives and screen art served its purpose. Highly worth seeing!

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