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The Great Caruso (1951)

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 »


Won 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 4 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Dorothy Benjamin
Dorothy Kirsten ...
Jarmila Novotna ...
Maria Selka
Richard Hageman ...
Carlo Santi
Carl Benton Reid ...
Park Benjamin
Giulio Gatti-Casazza
Alfredo Brazzi
Jean de Reszke
Pál Jávor ...
Antonio Scotti (as Paul Javor)
Carl Milletaire ...
Shepard Menken ...
Vincent Renno ...
Egisto Barretto
Peter Price ...
Caruso (as boy) (as Peter Edward Price)


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 <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The Intimate Story of a Man with a Voice as Great as His Heart! See more »


Biography | Drama | Music


Approved | See all certifications »





Release Date:

17 August 1951 (Australia)  »

Also Known As:

El gran Caruso  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)



Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Conductor Richard Hageman, who played Carlo Santi in the film, actually knew Enrico Caruso and led several performances with him at the Metropolitan Opera, including the 1918 War Relief Benefit re-created in the film. See more »


Referenced in Skirts Ahoy! (1952) See more »


Cielo e Mar
Performed by Mario Lanza
Written by Amilcare Ponchielli
See more »

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User Reviews

Lanza's Masterpiece - A Perfect Biography of Caruso
7 October 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

THE GREAT CARUSO was the biggest hit in the world in 1951 and broke all box office records at Radio City Music Hall in a year when most "movergoers" were stay-at-homes watching their new 7" Motorola televisions. Almost all recent box office figures are false --- because they fail to adjust inflation. Obviously today's $10 movies will dominate. In 1951 it cost 90c to $1.60 at Radio City; 44c to 75c first run at Loew's Palace in Washington DC, or 35c to 50c in neighborhood runs. What counts is the number of people responding to the picture, not unadjusted box office "media spin." The genius of THE GREAT CARUSO was that the filmmakers took most of the actual life of Enrico Caruso (really not a great story anyway) and threw it in the trash. Instead, 90% of the movie's focus was on the music. Thus MGM gave us the best living opera singer MARIO LANZA doing the music of the best-ever historic opera singer ENRICO CARUSO. The result was a wonderful movie. Too bad LANZA would throw his life and career away on overeating. Too fat to play THE STUDENT PRINCE, Edmund Purdom took his place --- with Lanza's voice dubbed in, and with the formerly handsome and not-fat Lanza pictured in the advertising. If you want to see THE GREAT CARUSO, it's almost always on eBay for $2.00 or less. Don't be put off by the low price, as it reflects only the easy availability of copies, not the quality of the movie.

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