In the English sub-titled version, released in the USA in 1958 by DCA, there's an abrupt transition from the end of reel 3B into the beginning of reel 4A, signaling that this is most likely where the missing five minutes was deleted, most likely as a result of censorship restrictions. See more »
This is the fourth of five films made of the play MELO by the French playwright Henri Bernstein between 1932 and 1986. The play was filmed twice in 1932, first as MELO (released in the USA as 'The Dreamy Mouth'), and then as DER TRAEUMENDE MUND (literally translated as 'The Dreamy Mouth'), released in the USA as 'Dreaming Lips'. It is not known why the film was made in German twice within a single year by the same director, or whether a print of either version survives. In the second film of the play (made in German), the lead was played by Elizabeth Bergner, who then repeated her performance in English five years later under the title DREAMING LIPS. All three of these films were directed by Paul Czinner, who was born in Budapest in 1890 but whose name is Austrian. He was married to Elizabeth Bergner, hence his obvious enthusiasm to give her the opportunity to star in this film in versions made in two languages. The 1937 film starring Elizabeth Bergner and Raymond Massey was awful, and both of their performances were more awful still (see my review). This film, however, is riveting to watch because of the amazing performance by Maria Schell, and the much higher level of all the performances than in the 1937 film. Schell makes of her character a disturbingly euphoric and ecstatic character, teetering on the edge of madness with her uncontrollable instant infatuation of concert violinist Philip Dorn, who actually plays the violin very convincingly in the film (the recording itself being dubbed). Dorn would only make one more film before being forced to retire from ill health. O. W. Fischer plays the husband of Schell, though this time he does not portray him as a silly brat as Romney Brent did in 1937, but as a more mature and sympathetic character, which greatly adds to the pathos of the story. The radiance and passion of Maria Schell make this film, which could easily have been a failure like its 1937 predecessor, an unsettling study in the excesses of love at first sight. Although it is clear that Schell has experienced all of this because she is unstable, her overwhelming joie de vivre and euphoria, possibly symptoms of bipolar depression, mark her out as irresistibly charming, even when we know she is a self-indulgent idiot who is merely creating an intense psychodrama for herself. Dorn may not be attractive enough to justify all of this passion in a woman, but the stolid and convincing manner in which he portrays the recipient of the unexpected emotional onslaught make him consistent throughout the story, and it holds everything together. The ending is completely different from that of the 1937 film, and much more convincing and appropriate. This is, then, a study in insane and unbridled infatuation and what it does to people's lives when it erupts unexpectedly and dominates everything.
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