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While vacationing in Italy, Nick Morell, son of John Morell, a famous English philosopher and amateur musician and his wife Catherine, becomes friendly with young Guido, and Morell discovers the boy has an extraordinary instinct for orchestration and a phenomenal music memory. A neighboring couple, Signor and Signora Boudini become aware of the boy's talents, and she appeals to his parents to let her educate him musically. Torn by their love for their son and, they feel,the duty to let the world hear his talent, they consent. The boy is tutored by Dr. Lorenzo. Signora Bondini denies the boy all contact with his parents and everyone else except her. She also has neither sent his letters to his family, nor let him see the ones they've sent to him. He becomes phenomenally successful and makes the grand tour of Europe as Signora Bondini is enraptured by the acclaim given her through her "discovery" of the boy. She prepares to take him to America and also prepares adoption papers. Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Based on a story by Adolphus Huxley (who is probably best known for the novel "Brave New World"), Prelude to Fame is marvelously presented. The plot concerns a child prodigy and a manipulative rich woman who, under the guise of sponsoring the boy, attempts to control his life for her own glory. To say more would be spoiling the story. While the story does tend to get a bit heavy-handed at times, it's still well-done.
The acting is superb, including the surprising 13-year-old Jeremy Spenser, who plays the prodigy child with the mastery of a mature actor. Spenser is surrounded by some of the best British talent of that era: Guy Rolfe, Kathleen Byron, Rosalie Crutchley, and the marvelously-cast character actor John Slater as Dr. Lorenzo.
The music is excellently done, as it should be with the longtime British film music director Muir Mathieson at the helm. Among other works, we hear bits and pieces of Beethoven's Eroica and Mendelssohn's Italian Symphonies, the full overture to the opera "Oberon" by Carl Maria von Weber, and at the end of the film, excerpts from Borodin's "Prince Igor", part of which ("Gliding Dance of the Maidens") was used for the song "Strangers in Paradise", which debuted in "Kismet" in 1953 and was highly popular in the mid 50s.
This is a fine movie, which isn't shown often on television anymore, but you can find it on Netflix. If you're a fan of classical music and/or of mid 20th-century British films, you should give this one a look.
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