In 1865, the cadets of a Russian Naval Academy ship have shore leave in Morocco; among them is (fictionalized) future composer 'Nicky' Rimsky-Korsakov. In search of a piano, Nicky and ... See full summary »
In 1865, the cadets of a Russian Naval Academy ship have shore leave in Morocco; among them is (fictionalized) future composer 'Nicky' Rimsky-Korsakov. In search of a piano, Nicky and singing ship's doctor Klin meet a family of once-wealthy Spanish colonists...and their daughter Cara who secretly dances in a cabaret. Romantic complications ensue, but Nicky seems less interested in Cara's favors than in inspirations for his future masterpieces. Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
I saw this movie as a Russian speaking teenager in Boston, but it couldn't have been further away from anything truly Russian. I had already studied a lot of Russian music and dance and so was anxious to see a film about one of my favorite composers: Nicholi Rimsky Korsakov. I couldn't have been more disillusioned. The Rimsky Korsakov that I knew from pictures in books wore glasses and had a long beard though he could have looked a bit like Jean Pierre Aumont when he was young. He certainly was in the Russisn navy and did travel all over the world but his life was absolutely nothing like that portrayed in the film. Even so, that's Hollywood and it was enjoyable though hilarious. Eve Arden couldn't have been worst cast, though I always loved her witty remarks and wise cracks in all her movies. But as a Spanish Duena? And wearing a Mantilla? Really! Yvonne De Carlo was surely beautiful but a dancer? Never. And who on earth did her choreography? I understand dummying down choreography for non dancers to be able to do, (called sham dancing) but surely it could have been a bit more inventive than this. Then, low and behold, she is dancing as Prima Ballerina at the Bolshoi Theater no less. OK, when in doubt, use a tambourine. Forget that Scherezade (only in the Ballet Russe repertory and not until 1920) as a ballet was never given at the Bolshoi in Moscow until the 1980s. And as Prima Ballerina in this silly version, (not even in toe shoes) she meets Rimsky (presumably during intermission) on the front steps of the Bolshoi wearing wedgies in the Moscow snow. AND, who on earth was the kid dancing with her on stage? Was it her little sister or the grand daughter of one of the producers from a local dancing school? Neither one would be allowed to even set foot on the stage of the Bolshoi let alone dance, even back during that time; 1880 or thereabouts. Brian Donlevy strutting around in a dance belt, puffing out his bare chest. Is this what one reviewer here was referring to as homo erotic? I suppose so, for 1947, but he sits in a box at the Bolshoi where he wouldn't have even been allowed past the front entrance, cigarette and all. But actually, I really love this movie for all its silliness and somehow I even managed to get it on tape, possibly it was shown on TV back during the 1980s. It's time I take another look at it. Yvonne De Carlo went on to be a star on Broadway and of course as Lily Munster on TV. Jean Pierre later married Maria Montez. Could that be right??? An added note: Years later, while in Moscow, I saw a Soviet version of Rimsky's life. Much more authentic of course with wonderful actors and in gorgeous Soviet color but of course no equal to MGM's production values. I think it was just called "Rimsky Korsakov's Life". They also did one on "Mousorgsky" another Russian composer. That was during Soviet times. I don't think Russian film industry would attempt such films now.
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