Loosely traces the life of tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921). He loves Musetta, in his home town of Naples, and then Dorothy, the daughter of one of the Metropolitan Opera's patrons. Caruso ... See full summary »
Loosely traces the life of tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921). He loves Musetta, in his home town of Naples, and then Dorothy, the daughter of one of the Metropolitan Opera's patrons. Caruso is unacceptable to both women's fathers: to one, because he sings; to Dorothy's, because he is a peasant. To New York patricians, Caruso is short, barrel chested, loud, emotional, unrefined. Their appreciation comes slowly. The film depicts Caruso's lament that "the man does not have the voice, the voice has the man": he cannot be places he wants to be, because he must be elsewhere singing, including the day his mother dies. Throughout, Mario Lanza and stars from the Met sing. Written by
This was the next-to-last completed MGM film under Louis B. Mayer's supervision (the last was Show Boat, released in the summer of that year). A proxy fight soon after would see him removed as the head of the studio he helped to found. He was replaced by his former chief of production, Dore Schary. Mayer ran MGM for 27 years, Schary for barely 6. See more »
By far the best thing about 'The Great Caruso' is not its stodgy script or its slightly silly plot (not very likely that much of this equates to the true story of Enrico Caruso, the first opera star to have his voice immortalised for all time), but the first rate singing throughout. Mario Lanza of course was a great asset to MGM through the late 1940s and early 1950s, with a fabulous voice and an attractive personality on the screen. This film also gives us the opportunity to see the lovely Dorothy Kirsten, who seems to have made very few films, and a sweet performance from Ann Blyth as the main love interest for Caruso.
We watch the young Enrico (played with charm by Peter Edward Price) grow into an enterprising young man who realises his voice is potentially his fortune. As the young talent flourishes and develops we follow his rise to fame through to his eventual inevitable ending. I didn't get much sense that the character we were seeing in this film was 'Caruso'; having heard his recordings he projected a very different personality than that we see in Lanza; still, this production is entertaining enough.
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