A mother (Marsha Hunt) wants her son (William Prince) to grow up to be a pianist good enough to play at Carnegie Hall but, when grown, the son prefers to play with Vaughan Monroe's ...
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Covering the tulip festival in Little Delft, Michigan, reporter Henry Taggart takes a room at an inn ran by an eccentric old Dutchman, Mr. Van Maaster and his seven daughters. The eldest, ... See full summary »
A mother (Marsha Hunt) wants her son (William Prince) to grow up to be a pianist good enough to play at Carnegie Hall but, when grown, the son prefers to play with Vaughan Monroe's orchestra. But Mama's wishes prevail and the son appears at Carnegie Hall as the composer-conductor-pianist of a modern horn concerto, with Harry James as the soloist. Frank McHugh is along as a Carnegie Hall porter and doorman, and Martha O'Driscoll is a singer who provides the love interest for Prince. Meanwhile and between while a brigade of classical music names from the 1940's (and earlier and later)appear; the conductors Walter Damrosch, Bruno Walter, Artur Rodzinski, Fritz Reiner and Leopold Stokowski; singers Rise Stevens, Lily Pons, Jan Peerce and Ezio Pinza, plus pianist Arthur Rubinstein, cellist Gregor Piatigorsky and violinist Jascha Heifetz. Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
Johns arrives on stage for rehearsal and is introduced to Ruth who is standing opposite of him with the piano in between. Close up of Ruth's face shows her looking to her left as she speaks to John who is center to her. See more »
As an enormous lifelong fan of classical music and opera, 'Carnegie Hall' was seen with much eagerness and no hesitation. After seeing it, the film isn't great but there are also a lot of pleasures, though perhaps one will enjoy it better if a classical music fan to recognise the music and the stars involved.
The weakest element of 'Carnegie Hall' is the story, which is pure paper thin hokum, that gets increasingly thinner, draggy and credibility straining as the film progresses. Didn't mind that it was a clichéd kind of story, there are a lot of clichéd stories in films that still work, did mind that not much interesting was done with the non-musical side of the film. Also at times feels too stretched and over-stuffed with a few scenes that go on a bit longer than needed and with too many characters.
Contrived and flimsy scripting also works against 'Carnegie Hall', and most of the acting that's not the classical music stars is not particularly great with William Prince being rather anonymous. The sole exception in this regard is Marsha Hunt, who deserved better but brings authority, poignancy, firmness and dignity to her role.
Onto the positives now. Much of 'Carnegie Hall' looks very pleasing, with some lovely noir-like lighting, atmospheric use of shadows and mostly fluid and eye-catching camera work (if admittedly a bit static in the early parts). It's competently directed, informative, inspiring and moving in the best of its parts, and absolutely nothing can be said against Hunt.
Best of all are the music and the assemblage of classical music/operatic stars. On the musical side, 'Carnegie Hall' couldn't have been more blissful, with the opportunities of seeing and hearing Tchaikovsky, Chopin, Mozart, Delibes et al. performed so brilliantly being a joy, and while this may not be good news to some to me it was lovely to have musical selections sizeable in length, these pieces are just too good to only have in snippet form so having it done the way it was here felt like the music and performers were being done justice.
With the stars, picking a favourite is impossible and you not only see them on top form but you see their personalities. The virtuosity of Artur Rubenstein in the Chopin, with those enigmatic flourishes, was a delight, and Jascha Heifetz plays Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto at a tempo that has never been done that fast and what sounds impossible is done with envious nimbleness by him with the intensity enough to make fires blaze. Leopold Stokowski features interestingly, again conducting Tchaikovsky in a way seldom done before, and 'Carnegie Hall' offers a rare chance of seeing Fritz Reiner and Walter Damrosch on film.
As an opera fanatic, particularly of the "golden age of opera", it was even more of a treat seeing fairly rare glimpses of Lily Pons, Rise Stevens and Ezio Pinza in their signature roles and arias of Lakme, Carmen and Don Giovanni respectively, all three sounding glorious.
Overall impressions are when it comes to the musical side of things 'Carnegie Hall' soars majestically. In the sections where story or drama is featured more, it does falter. 7/10 Bethany Cox
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