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Shirley Anne Field
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Worth watching - for those who enjoy this sort of thing
An enjoyable film, but it is not really (in fact, not at all) a biography of Victor Herbert, as the title suggests. The music, however, is a delight, and although Herbert's music would now no doubt be considered 'dated' by many people, he did have a sure melodic gift. Many of his songs have a wide vocal range and are by no means easy to sing; one of his trademarks is the use of wide and unusual intervals (e.g. a major ninth in 'I'm falling in love with someone'; an octave plus a semitone, a major seventh and a tenth in 'Kiss me again'). This, combined with the sometimes flowery lyrics and his penchant for the slow waltz, give his music an old-world charm that is well served in this film by the performances, the set and the costumes.
Allan Jones and Mary Martin are both worth seeing - and hearing. Allan Jones had a fine tenor voice, which he uses here to good effect. It is always interesting to see Mary Martin on screen - although she comes over as perfectly fine - indeed good - there is perhaps little to suggest that she would go on to become one of the very greatest musical stars of Broadway (and, indeed, also of the West End in London) of the middle years of the twentieth century. (Those who doubt that this film allows us to hear her real singing voice of these years should seek out a recording of her in Noel Coward's Pacific 1860 (London, 1946), in which she plays an opera diva, or of Peter Pan, in which her coloratura pyrotechnics can be heard.)
All in all, an enjoyable film for those who like the music of Victor Herbert (and people who enjoy operetta music or musicals generally are likely to find Herbert's music worth exploring) and also for those who are fans of the stars.
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