I missed this film when it first appeared, and only saw it quite by chance very recently on the TCM channel. I felt it was a rather unappreciated gem that I would like to commend to other IMDb users. It purports to be a biography of early nineteenth century composer Siegmund Romberg. Unfortunately biographies are not Hollywood's strong suite, and this one does not "cut the mustard" as a biography. Romberg was a Central European Jew who came to the U.S.A. as a refugee from the pre-first world war Hapsburg Empire; and made a very successful career as a much admired composer of light music, much of which was coupled with romantic songs written by Dorothy Donnolley for Broadway musicals. Here surely is a great subject for a biography which shows the trauma of being a refugee and the problems of an artist in becoming accepted in a new country with a different language and very different culture. Unfortunately this chance was blown in favour of a script which paraded all the musical stars that MGM could command, presenting re-creations of a series of extracts from his stage successes. However if accepted at this level the film is unusually successful, helped by a great cast and the direction of the often under-rated Stanley Donen. Romberg is remembered for writing light Viennese style romantic orchestral music which was extremely popular in the pre-jazz era, and I was surprised how enjoyable this music made watching the film. For me, and probably others of my generation, the music in more recent musicals does not often compare with that in this film.
One of Romberg's best known stage works was 'The Desert Song', which has been filmed three times, (the 1929 version containing more of Romberg's music), and watching an Arabian Nights sequence featuring Cyd Charise and James Mitchell made me very sad that all colour copies of the 1929 film appear to have been lost (although a monochrome version prepared for TV has survived.)
The background notes above may be helpful to the many people today who have never heard any of Romberg's music, but as a review of this film the following (which alone would not have satisfied the IMDb 10 line minimum criterion) is all that is needed:
This is a perfect film to watch with a life partner, or significant other, at the start of a short vacation together. But it would be better seen in a cinema rather than on TV.
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