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Johanna von Koczian,
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This formula pic, while being one of Lanza's lamer projects, includes some impressive soundtrack renderings.
It's amusing to see how he manages to first be drafted at all (stretching age limits) then sail through basic training with a breeze, intoning ballads through boot camp.
From his real-life mom's requesting an autograph as he stands in recruit formation at train station, to his sergeant's begging same immediately upon entering barracks, this script's a hoot.
His fellow privates (while mildly ribbing him) quickly accept his "in with brass" status, as our hero's placed in charge of trainees, crooning Brahms melodies in sergeant's quarters, belting out Italian arias while riding a truck, and even traveling to New York for a recording session.
However, this is a quite special branch of the military--MGM Division to be exact--and everything yields to the song cue (could Joe Pasternak be Commander in Chief?)
Fun to see James Whitmore having a good time in a somewhat comedic, Keenyn Wynn type role. Spring Byington's sprightly as ever and Doretta Morrow's serviceable as love interest, with her light soprano being as pleasant here as in her Broadway work of "Kismet."
Interesting, too, to see Mario bouncing between 80-pounds-plus-minus (entering a chapel in uniform fairly slim and next walking down aisle wearing what looks like a tent).
Vocally the production's strong, with a consistently forceful approach. Lanza looks like this isn't exactly a labor of love, with his reactions appearing more dutiful than inspired.
He'd go on from this to render some of his most endearing work for the soundtrack of "The Student Prince." Like a comet that flashes briefly across the heavens, Lanza was a phenomenon of his particular time that entertained and uplifted millions for a few short seasons.
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