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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 »

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Won 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 4 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Dorothy Benjamin
Dorothy Kirsten ...
Jarmila Novotna ...
Maria Selka
Richard Hageman ...
Carlo Santi
...
Park Benjamin
...
Giulio Gatti-Casazza
...
Alfredo Brazzi
...
Jean de Reszke
...
Antonio Scotti (as Paul Javor)
Carl Milletaire ...
Gino
Shepard Menken ...
Fucito
Vincent Renno ...
Tullio
...
Egisto Barretto
Peter Price ...
Caruso (as boy) (as Peter Edward Price)
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

Mario Lanza! New Idol! Hottest singer in a decade! See more »

Genres:

Biography | Drama | Music

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

17 August 1951 (Australia)  »

Also Known As:

El gran Caruso  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This was the next-to-last completed MGM film under Louis B. Mayer's supervision (the last was Show Boat (1951), 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 »

Goofs

When Caruso first arrives at the Metropolitan Opera, a worker is seen replacing a photo of "Jean de Reseke" with that of Caruso. Jean de Reszke was in fact a real person and a star tenor of the era, but his last name is misspelled here. See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits: The events, characters and firms depicted in this photoplay are fictitious. Any similarity to actual persons, living or dead, or to actual firms is purely coincidental. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Neighbours: Episode #1.830 (1988) See more »

Soundtracks

Sweethearts
(uncredited)
from SWEETHEARTS
Performed by Mario Lanza
Also performed by Dorothy Kirsten
Written by Victor Herbert and Harry B. Smith
See more »

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User Reviews

The Perfect Introduction to Opera
5 February 2003 | by (New Zealand) – See all my reviews

This movie can truly be called life-changing. It certainly changed my life; I was totally ignorant of opera before a chance re-run of this movie introduced me to a whole new musical world. As it turned out, I was in illustrious company. There is not a single contemporary tenor of note who was not inspired by this movie.

Let's be honest from the outset: the movie bears little resemblance to the real Caruso's life, and, yes, it is corny in the grand tradition of Hollywood musicals. But who cares? Lanza's singing is perfection itself, and his vibrant personality overflows in practically every scene. The rest of the cast is good, with top-notch operatic singers Blanche Thebom, Giuseppe Valdengo, et al providing Lanza with some worthy (and rare) vocal support.

Highlights include a superb Vesti la Giubba, a moving Ave Maria and a rapturous Because. In all the movie contains 27 vocal items, with not a dull moment to be found amongst them.

See this movie and revel in a unique vocal talent. In the words of one admirer, Mario Lanza could "outsing the entire Mormon Tabernacle Choir", and the movie is a stark reminder of how bland today's singing idols really are. Enrico Caruso, Jr, was one observer who concurred with this view.While the movie overlooked his existence in favor of his half-sister Gloria, Caruso's son had nothing but praise for the man who portrayed his father:

"Mario Lanza was born with one of the dozen or so great tenor voices of the century, with a natural gift for placement, an unmistakable and very pleasing timbre, and a nearly infallible musical instinct conspicuously absent in the overwhelming majority of so-called 'great' singers. His diction was flawless, matched only by the superb Giuseppe di Stefano. His delivery was impassioned, his phrasing manly, and his tempi instinctively right -- qualities that few singers are born with and others can never attain.

"I can think of no other tenor, before or since Mario Lanza, who could have risen with comparable success to the challenge of playing Caruso in a screen biography."

Well said, Enrico Jnr, and viva il grande Lanza!


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