Humoresque (1946) Poster

(1946)

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10/10
A Startling WB Melodrama
carlostallman20 January 2007
It opens with a close up of John Garfield and that, already, gets you going. The intensity and power of the man. A from rags to riches tale with an extra something. The extra something here is Clifford Odetts, the language is as pungent as its pace. The truth in John Garfield's face rises everything several notches but, perhaps, the biggest surprise from a 2007's standpoint, is Joan Crawford's performance. She's never been one of my favorites, I always thought impossible to warm up to her and her tough lady from the wrong side of the tracks left me cold but here, she's rounded and brilliant, torn between who she is and who she would like to be. Great lines, fantastic close ups - wearing eye glasses, removing the glasses and squinting - At moments you feel the camera devours her. The director, Jean Negulesco - Three Coins In The Fountain, How To Marry a Millionaire - never flown this high. This 1946 Warners melodrama has the stuff that great works of art are made of. Thrilling
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10/10
The best Joan Crawford performance ever.
Charles Herrin28 March 2002
As Helen Joan Crawford gives her greatest performance and she should have been nominated for Best Actress that year. She certainly gave a better performance than Olivia De havilland gave in "To each His Own". John Garfield is also at top of his form and he certainly is a good match for Miss Crawford. What a shame that in a few short years he would be backlisted. Oscar Levant gives a typical Oscar Levant snide performance but he is a bit more serious in this role as the best friend of Mr. Garfield. the use of the "Liebestod" from "Tritan und Isolde" coupled with the waves rushing in might appear to some as camp but Miss crawford's handling of the scene is nothing short of magnificent. One usually overlooked performance is that of then billed Bobby Blake who has been much in the news lately. He portrayed Mr. Garfield's as a boy and did a good job of it without the ususal winey voice and mannerisms that made him so easy to hate in the "Our Gang" comedies. I have always thought that the adult robert Blake would have been an excellent choice to portray John Garfield in a biopic of his life. By all means see "Mildred Pearce" which won Miss Crawford the Oscar but don't miss "Humoresque".
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Perhaps Joan's Finest Hour
nickandrew7 November 1999
The film is over 2 hours long, but Crawford only has about 1 hour of film time in it, and it is surely one of her finest performances and finest films in her lengthy career. She plays a married socialite who takes particular interest in a rising concert violinst (played by Garfield). This is one of my favorite movies of all time and yes the ending is one of the greatest of all times. ***1/2 out of ****.
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10/10
CRAWFORDS BEST PERFORMANCE!!!a great film!!
olddiscs4 August 2003
Crawford was great but not my favorite actress..Bette Davis was.. but this performance in Humoresque can only be portrayed by Crawford! She was absloutely perfect for the role of Helen Wright.. and yes was brilliant..To me this is her best role: not sudsy or sappy... beautiful,sophisticated, society bitch who sexually longed for a man & did everything in her power to control & possess him..I feel the chemistry between she & co star John Garfield was ELECTRIC!! He portrayed the violinist,Paul Boyar so well.. the man she lusted for and wanted to possess for herself... The score, the photography the direction Brilliant..Ive seeen this film many times & each time it gets better... Im very critical of Miss Crawfords work but 5 or 6 of her films are outstanding.. This is a notch above Mildred Pierce for me because the character she is portraying is so similar to herself (according to bios etc)..& her beauty & class are unquestioned..the closeup of her ,as she observes Garfield in the rehearsal hall..is comparable to Garbo's closeup ,final scene , of Queen Christina!!! This is a film that never ever bores me..I rate it a 10 !!! Watch It....
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7/10
Playing second fiddle to Beethoven
NewEnglandPat28 August 2003
That sentiment sums up the frustration and disappointment of Joan Crawford about her love for and obsession with violin virtuoso John Garfield in an excellent film blessed with great acting and beautiful music. Crawford and Garfield are well-matched in this movie, as Crawford becomes Garfield's patron and gives his career a financial boost but becomes hopelessly drawn to her protégé as his concert career takes off. The two principals circle each other warily, sizing up the other and lashing out verbally with accusations of ingratitude and selfishness with Garfield holding fast to his dedication to his music while Crawford begins a slow but steady decline into drinking and depression. Garfield's tunnel vision concerning his instrument does not allow him to appreciate the love a young woman has for him, nor can he grasp his mother's sage counsel and warning about his involvement with a married woman. The film has generous servings of music by Sarasate, Dvorak, Lalo and a brief but excellent recital of Franz Waxman's adaptation of "Carmen".
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10/10
Splendid performances and music
caa82113 August 2006
It's fun sometimes to watch a movie, and mentally juxtapose it in your mind with another you've seen. In "Humoresque," for example, watch the part where Paul (John Garfield) is delivering his major violin performance, while his wealthy, possessive patron, Helen (Joan Crawford), sits in her expensive box (his mother and "girlfriend" are in the cheaper seats) in a sensuous, almost orgasmic state as she watches him. This scene is depicted as graphically as the constrictions imposed on films in the mid-40's would allow - narrow boundaries compared with even daytime television today. Now visualize Michael Douglas and Sharon Stone from "Basic Instinct." Instead of being a detective and author/murder suspect, respectively, Michael is on-stage like Paul, playing his heart out, and Sharon is the wealthy patron in the audience. Now imagine what Sharon might do, and the camera show, in "her" sensuous reaction to his performance: not a bad vision, eh?

This film IS an outstanding example of the "noir" qualities which were a hallmark of the 30's to the early 50's - from the earlier stages of talking pictures, through the depression and post-WW II years. Joan Crawford was one of the two best (along with Bette Davis) at portraying this type of cold, possessive, and thoroughly selfish, powerful female presence. From later revelations about her real life, it was probably due less to her acting prowess than one imagined at that time. And Garfield played the tough, yet easily-manipulated, handsome male "pawn" to perfection - as the fore-mentioned Michael Douglas has done in the present.

Watch this movie for the outstanding performances of two icons of the film's era. It also represents, in my opinion, one of the three best films for the lead characters' music, presented within 10 years after WW II - each with characters meeting unhappy ends. There is, of course, the great Isaac Stern's music here. Ten years later, another matinée idol, Tyrone Power, starred as the title character in "The Eddy Duchin Story," with the gorgeous Kim Novak, and Carmen Cavallero's talented piano offerings. In about the mid-point between these two movies, in 1950, Kirk Douglas was Rick Martin in "Young Man With a Horn," based largely of the meteoric, talented career of the great trumpet player, Bix Biederbecke, whose life ended at age 28 - but who was so talented he is well-remembered nearly 75 years later; Harry James' playing in this film is comparable to Stern's and Cavallero's in the other two, and Lauren Bacall and Doris Day are there as Kirk's love interests, the naughty girl and good girl, respectively. Watch these three movies in the order made; you'll be exposed to great music, and three all-time great performers providing music via their respective instruments - as well as some of the great stars in cinema history. And the musical finale from the Duchin movie will bring a tear to virtually anyone's eyes.
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8/10
"I didn't make the world, I barely live in it."
Ilya Mauter2 May 2003
Jean Negulescu, a director of Rumanian origin based in Hollywood since 1930s was responsible for several good films and "Humoresque" is one of them.

It's a good drama starring Joan Crawford who gives here one of her finest performances as Helen Wright, a cynical and selfish society woman who set her sight at a young talented violinist Paul Boray (John Garfield), offers help in making his carrier and later becomes concerned with his love, almost an obsession with his work - music, that comes to the point of neglecting (as she thinks) their relationship and herself personally - "I'm tired of playing the second fiddle!"

Significant part of the film has to do with New York, that is "all full with all kinds of animals, and not all of them are born here" as says the most cynical character in the film Sid Jeffers played by Oscar Levant. It's there that we witness several tribulations in Helen - Paul's relationship resulting in a tragic ending.

Wittiness of the script is probably the most important ingredient of "Humoresque" (besides Joan Crawford's performance) which turns it into a good classic film that stands repeated viewing. 8/10
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8/10
Crawford takes Garfield under her wing
blanche-223 January 2007
"Humoresque" is a 1946 film based on a novel by Fanny Hurst, and is actually a remake of a film made in 1920. This "Humoresque" boasts a great cast, beautiful music, melodrama, and gorgeous violin playing by Isaac Stern.

John Garfield stars as struggling violinist Paul Boray who finally gets his big break with the help of a socialite, Helen Wright (Crawford), when his pianist friend (Oscar Levant) brings him to a party at her home. Helen is a beautiful married lush who is nearsighted, so when Paul starts to play the violin, she asks for her glasses. She has a lot of attractive male hangers-on, one of which is Monte Loeffler (a mustached Craig Stevens). It takes a while, but Helen and Paul at last declare their love and give into their lust. Paul's mother (Ruth Nelson) takes a dim view of the situation, fearing it will hurt her son's career as Helen is a demanding woman and won't take a back seat to his music. In one scene, which to anyone in theater or music is hilarious, after she practically has an orgasm as she watches him play during a rehearsal, Helen sends Paul a note saying that she must see him immediately. Since he's going over music with the conductor and rehearsing with a full orchestra, he doesn't leap off the stage and into the audience in order to rush to Helen's side. She's devastated and gets drunk. I ask you, if she doesn't understand why he didn't stop rehearsal, what chance have they got? This is a wonderful film, reminiscent of the family all living together in "Golden Boy" (not to mention the violin aspect) and the wealthy patron angle in "Serenade," the Mario Lanza film that was based on a novel by James Cain. Helen Wright is one of Joan Crawford's best performances, too.

The film is not without some problems, but you can't fault the incredible music played by Isaac Stern, including the title piece by Dvorak, and music of Sarasate, Lalo and Bizet's Carmen as magnificently adapted by Franz Waxman. The love theme from "Tristan und Isolde" was a post-war favorite in movies evidently, showing up in a few films - it is used here to good, if heavily melodramatic advantage.

My big problem is the end of the movie. The last two scenes between Paul and Sid (Levant) seem completely unnecessary. To have put THE END in what to me was the natural place would have been much more dramatic and compelling. It wasn't done, I think, because the story is actually told in flashback - at the beginning of the film, we see a CANCELLED sign over a poster announcing a performance of Paul's, and the story unfolds. There wasn't any reason really for it to start in flashback either.

As for Crawford's big finale, it is very well done and Crawford performs the actions beautifully, but once you've seen Catherine O'Hara do the same scene on Second City, there's just no way to watch it with a straight face, I'm afraid. Even if you haven't, it is pretty borderline over the top - what saves it is Helen's anguish.

Paul Boray is a perfect role for the talents of John Garfield, a wonderful actor, though for my money he had a limited range. The sexual tension between Garfield and Crawford is tremendous, and it's a credit to both actors how their scenes clicked. There are other wonderful performances as well, particularly from Paul's parents, played by Ruth Nelson and J. Carroll Naish. Levant is given a lot of wisecracks, as is Tom D'Andrea as Paul's brother. Joan Chandler is the long-suffering girlfriend who's been brushed aside for Helen, and she's very good.

The script is solid with some great dialogue and the direction by Jean Negulesco is very crisp. Highly recommended - just don't get a DVD of Second City where they parodied this movie before you've actually seen it.
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8/10
Perfectly realized, masterfully told, genuinely gripping - Humoresque has it all!
Warning: Spoilers
Jean Negulesco's "Humoresque" (1946) ranks as one of Joan Crawford's top three films; the other two probably being Mildred Pierce and Possessed. It stars the unerringly determined Ms. Crawford as neurotic socialite, Helen Wright. Helen's marriage of convenience to wealthy, Victor (Paul Cavanagh) affords her the luxury of dalliances with many men. The one she eventually settles on as her lover is Paul Boray (John Garfield), a gifted, but impoverished violinist. After a chance meeting at a party where Paul and his close friend, Sid Jeffers (Oscar Levant) are the entertainment, and, where Paul's pride is tested by Helen's vexing insults, Sid instructs Paul to forget her. He is, after all, engaged to the lovely Gina (Joan Chandler); more his equal in temperament and texture. However, as is the usual for tragic melodrama, a destructive romance continues to build between Paul and Helen. She introduces him to high society and the prospects of achieving fame beyond his wildest dreams. All that she asks in return is that Paul shares her bed while her husband's away…at least, at first. But as Paul's reputation grows, so does Helen's jealousy. And, although it appears as though this arrangement will be Paul's undoing as both an artist and a man, it is Helen who ultimately meets with an untimely end.

The absence of this brilliant film on DVD has been rectified with Warner's beautiful new transfer. Though there are several scenes in which fine details slightly shimmer, the overall quality of the picture will surely please. The gray scale has deep, solid blacks, very clean whites and a remarkable amount of fine details realized throughout. The audio is mono but has been very nicely cleaned up. An all too brief featurette – 'The Music of Humoresque' is all we get in the way of extras. It is a genuine shame that no audio commentary has been included.
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