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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 »
WARNING: Do NOT show this film to anyone in whom you're trying to stimulate an interest in classical music. That's what audio recordings are for.
CARNEGIE HALL is an interesting relic that allows us a few glimpses of some great musicians in action, performing their signature works. If you already enjoy the music and want to see what Heifetz, Rubinstein, Piatigorsky, Peerce, Pinza, Stevens et al. looked like in their heyday (as well as some lesser-known but significant talents such as John Corigliano, Leonard Rose and Nadia Reisenberg), you can probably bear to sit through this film.
But Lord!, the non-musical scenes (and even the mediocre "57th Street Rhapsody" that closes the film) are just dreadful. Marsha Hunt was an able journeywoman actress and does as credible a job as can be expected, but she has little to work with in the way of story and dialog. The other actors (as opposed to musicians playing themselves or other musicians) range from adequate to awful. All the clichés about artistic temperaments and a child straying from the career path chosen by the parent are on display, and they were stale long before CARNEGIE HALL was made. The efforts to "humanize" Heifetz, Reiner and Rubinstein also are trite (not that they shouldn't be portrayed as actual human beings, as opposed to Hollywood stereotypes of classical demigods. Heifetz was more fun a few years earlier in THEY SHALL HAVE MUSIC.) Other than the documentary aspect of CARNEGIE HALL's musical segments, I can see no reason to see this film more than once. And unless you really care about classical music and the people who make it, even a single viewing is excessive.
Idle question: Can anyone explain why -- in the scene in which the kindly Nora arranges for the young performer "Mary" to use the hall for her debut -- that Mary is shot from the rear, and we never see her face? Rather strange.
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