Snooty opera singer meets a rough-and-tumble fisherman in the Louisiana bayous, but this fisherman can sing! Her agent lures him away to New Orleans to teach him to sing opera, but comes to... See full summary »
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St. John Legh Clowes
Jack La Rue,
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Snooty opera singer meets a rough-and-tumble fisherman in the Louisiana bayous, but this fisherman can sing! Her agent lures him away to New Orleans to teach him to sing opera, but comes to regret this rash decision when the singers fall in love. Written by
Although they had previously appeared together in That Midnight Kiss (1949), Kathryn Grayson and Mario Lanza did not get along while making this film. While shooting the love duet scene from "Madame Butterfly," Grayson recalled that Lanza kept trying to French kiss her, which was made even more unpleasant by the fact that he kept eating garlic before shooting. To counter this, Grayson had costume designer Helen Rose sew pieces of brass inside her glove. Each time Lanza attempted to French kiss her, Grayson would smack him in the face with her brass-loaded glove. One of these smacks was included in the movie. See more »
Three-quarters of the way through the "Tina-Lina," Pierre's trousers develop a tear at the seam near the hip, which magically repairs itself in the next shot. See more »
Since society began there's been a way of doing things right and a way of doing them wrong.
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This is without a doubt the most consistently cheerful of Lanza's movies, and a real hoot. Mario's hitherto unknown comedic skills are a big surprise, and the supporting cast of J Carroll Naish and David Niven is wonderful. I wish I could say the same for co-star Kathryn Grayson, but her shrill coloratura, grating vibrato and minimal acting skills make her a poor match for Lanza.
This is the film that introduced Lanza's signature song, Be My Love. The scene in which the song is first sung (as a duet between Grayson and Lanza) is great fun to watch, with both singers trying to outdo the other. The Madama Butterfly Love Duet scene is even better, as Lanza throws caution to the wind and shows Grayson the true meaning of PASSION.
Were it not for Grayson, the movie would merit the highest evaluation. Despite this one casting flaw, Toast of New Orleans is an excellent vehicle for newcomers to opera. Like the man himself, Lanza's screen character's lusty ways and thorough lack of pretentiousness are a breath of fresh air, and he sings impressively throughout. Highlights include the Libiamo (much better than his commercial recording), a gorgeous Bayou Lullaby and the aforementioned Butterfly Love Duet.
Following this movie, Lanza would go on to star in The Great Caruso, the pinnacle of his movie career and the film that has influenced more singers than any other in cinematic history.
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