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Torch Song (1953)

 -  Drama | Music | Romance  -  1 October 1953 (USA)
5.3
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Ratings: 5.3/10 from 633 users  
Reviews: 34 user | 11 critic

Jenny Stewart is a tough Broadway musical star who doesn't take criticism from anyone. Yet there is one individual, Tye Graham, a blind pianist who may be able to break through her tough ... See full summary »

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Title: Torch Song (1953)

Torch Song (1953) on IMDb 5.3/10

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview:
...
...
Tye Graham
...
Cliff Willard
Marjorie Rambeau ...
Mrs. Stewart
...
Joe Denner (as Henry Morgan)
Dorothy Patrick ...
Martha
James Todd ...
Philip Norton
Eugene Loring ...
Gene, the Dance Director
Paul Guilfoyle ...
Monty Rolfe
Benny Rubin ...
Charles Maylor
Peter Chong ...
Peter
...
Anne
Nancy Gates ...
Celia Stewart
Chris Warfield ...
Chuck Peters
Rudy Render ...
Singer at Party
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Storyline

Jenny Stewart is a tough Broadway musical star who doesn't take criticism from anyone. Yet there is one individual, Tye Graham, a blind pianist who may be able to break through her tough exterior. Written by Kelly

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Tough Baby - a wonderful love story with the star of "Sudden Fear" and for the FIRST TIME you'll see her in TECHNICOLOR!

Genres:

Drama | Music | Romance

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

1 October 1953 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Herzen im Fieber  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.75 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

MGM's ad campaign for the film erroneously boasted that this was moviegoers' first chance to see Joan Crawford in Technicolor. However, Crawford had appeared in a Technicolor sequence in MGM's The Ice Follies of 1939 (1939), released some 14 years earlier. See more »

Goofs

In an old newspaper review, Ty rhapsodizes about Jenny's performance of the song "Tenderly" which he saw her perform on the night before he was shipped off to WWII (and subsequently blinded). In reality, that tune was not written until 1946, a year after war was over. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Jenny Stewart: Hold the record.
See more »

Connections

Spoofed in Vegas in Space (1991) See more »

Soundtracks

You Won't Forget Me
Music by Fred Spielman
Lyrics by Kermit Goell
Sung by Joan Crawford (dubbed by India Adams (uncredited))
See more »

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User Reviews

 
The "Reefer Madness" of Musicals
22 August 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Possibly the worst picture Crawford ever made, it begs to be seen to be disbelieved.

Despite "winning" Charleston contests at the Cocoanut Grove in her twenties, even vintage early films prove Crawford was no dancer. Nor could she sing particularly well.

So, naturally, she's cast in "Torch Song" as a huge Broadway singing and dancing star. (Crawford was 49 at the time.)

In her opening "rehearsal" number with "Ellis" (actually, "Torch Song's" Director, Chuck Walters), one can practically hear her count, "One, two, three, four" as she studiously moves from one carefully choreographed pose to another. Even Shirley Temple, with Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, did better than this in "The Little Colonel" (1935) in their still-startling and delightful tap dance sequence.

There's nothing "delightful" about any of Crawford's dancing-singing sequences in "Torch Song." But she's consistently "startling." Her songs ("Follow Me," "Two-Faced Woman") are mediocre at best: never to be heard again, or embraced by the music-buying public. Worse, they're actually sung by India Adams, whose voice doesn't remotely resemble Crawford's.

The show-stopper (and not in a good way) is "Two-Faced Woman." Crawford, in blackface, descends the staircase (still silently counting her simplistic dance steps and "posing" rather than dancing). Blackface? Never explained. Perhaps blackface was chosen for the "shocking" moment when she angrily rips off her wig and glares into the auditorium with her enormous eyes and red slash of a mouth -- topped with disheveled hair dyed a remarkable Technicolor "red" that even Lucille Ball wouldn't have dared attempt.

No one, of course, not even a would-be lounge singer like India Adams (whatever happened to . . . oh, never mind), can destroy a chestnut like "Tenderly," whose haunting music and lyric support even the talentless.

Marjorie Rambeau inexplicably won an Academy Award nomination for her three brief scenes as Crawford's mother. (She and Crawford were longstanding friends.) Adolph Deutsch (Composer) presumably arranged and played the impressive "mad" piano arrangement of "Tenderly" for blind pianist Ty Graham (Micheal Wilding) in the final scene. It's the single most emotionally honest moment in the entire film, musically capturing Ty's love and anguish and frustration with Crawford's "gypsy madonna." Until it's completely undercut by one of the most rapid character reversals (and bad dialogue) ever conceived for a major film.

"I finally did it," asserts Crawford's character, attempting to convince Ty (and the audience) that she's been trying to break through Ty's defensive shell all along (she hasn't: she's just been spouting hackneyed bitchy dialogue, lip-synching to hackneyed "original" songs and silently counting out her game but amateurish dance steps -- all in Helen Rose's gloriously improbable Technicolor costumes).

"Torch Song's" final line, meant to show Crawford's "tender," warmly humorous side, references Ty's seeing eye dog, Duchess. Say what? THIS is "Torch Song's" payoff?

Is "Torch Song" watchable? Yes. Like a train wreck.

Is it "so bad it's good?" No. It's just bad.

The "Reefer Madness" of musicals.


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