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Prologue: in 1940, a shellshocked man fights to recall his past. Flashback: During the Nazi invasion of Poland, American reporter Carole Peters meets Polish airman Stefan Radetzky, also a piano virtuoso. Stefan is among the last to escape Warsaw; months later, in New York, he and Carole meet again, and marry. But the thought of his going back to fight is not only personally terrifying to Carole, but seems a great waste of his musical talent... Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Propaganda film made fast, on the cheap, but with beautiful music
Anton Walbrook and Sally Gray fall in love in "Dangerous Moonlight," a 1941 British film also starring Derrick Marney. The story is told in flashback. When we first meet the famous Polish pianist-composer Stefan Radetzky (Walbrook), he is an amnesia victim to whom the doctors have given a piano in the hopes that he will remember something. We then see what brought him to this point. He is a fighter pilot who first meets Carol (Sally Gray), a beautiful American reporter, in Warsaw while he is grounded. There is an instant attraction; six months later, when the Germans have invaded Poland, Radetzky comes to America to give concerts in order to raise money for Polish refugees. He and Carol meet again and decide to get married. He finally decides to go back and fight, but Carol doesn't want him to leave.
Sally Gray had a nervous breakdown after this movie that kept her off the screen for five years, but I doubt it had anything to do with "Dangerous Moonlight." Later on, she became a Baroness and retired, even turning down an offer from Hollywood. She's lovely in the film, though doesn't make much of a stab at an American accent. Given that the character comes from money, though, her accent is probably fine, as young women in the better schools were taught that British-type accent anyway. Anton Walbrook is very suave and attractive.
This is a propaganda film that seems to have dashed out without much of an eye to detail - it has German planes flying upside down, and I doubt very much if "Radetzky" spelled that way is Polish. The goal of the film was to keep up morale and also to encourage the U.S. to stop its policy of isolationism. Since it wasn't released in the U.S. until April of 1942, England had already gotten its wish.
What makes "Dangerous Moonlight" memorable is the music, notably the Warsaw Concerto, purportedly written by Radetzky, in reality written by Richard Addinsell. Pianist Louis Kentner dubbed the piano for Walbrook and plays the Chopin Polonaise as well. The Warsaw Concerto is very haunting music, just beautiful.
If you're not familiar with Sally Gray, and you like beautiful music, you might want to check out this film. As a bit of trivia, the Beatles song "A Day in the Life" was actually written about Sally Gray's stepson, who apparently crashed John Lennon's car.
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