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A rich, young beauty, Louise Durant, follows the man she loves and hopes to marry to Zurich where he studies violin at the conservatory. A piano student at the conservatory falls madly in love with Louise. The violinist loves his music first and Louise second. The pianist loves Louise first and his music second. Louise must ultimately choose which man she wants. Written by
"Rhapsody" is not the bad movie some of the comments to IMDb seem to indicate. While this was a film typical of the time when it was made, it offers some of the most glorious music ever heard in a Hollywood picture. The music takes center stage in the movie. As interpreted by Michael Rabin and Claudio Arrau, among others, Tchaikowsky, Liszt and Rachmaninoff were never given such loving tribute as in this film.
Charles Vidor directed this adaptation of a novel that might have been well regarded, enough to be brought to the screen. Ruth and August Goetz are given credit for the screen play. The Goetzes wrote many plays, among them, "The Heiress". Fay and Michael Kanin also contributed to the adaptation.
The story of Louise "Lulu" Durant, a spoiled rich girl, that defied her father into following what she thought was the love of her life, turns out to be a nightmare. Lulu was not prepared to play second fiddle, no pun intended, to anyone, let alone Paul Bronte, the talented, but egotistical violinist that is only in love with his career.
The story, by the way, takes place in Zurich, and not Munich, as someone reported in another comment. Lulu, who has ambitions of becoming a pianist, promptly realizes she is a lousy player and heeds the advice of the wise professor Schuman, but she makes the mistake of staying around, getting bored because Paul has only time for his music and not for her.
Enter James Guest, an American pianist. He falls in love with the beautiful Lulu, only to be rejected. When Paul becomes the toast of the music world, he breaks from Lulu, who in turn marries James on the rebound. Ultimately, Lulu realizes that James is the one that is real and the only one that cares for her and there's a happy ending when he makes a stunning debut playing Rachmaninoff's Second Piano Concerto.
Elizabeth Taylor, in all her beauty, is seen as the ravishing creature she was in those years. She made an impression as the spoiled "papa's girl" that she was. In this film, as well as all those Ms. Taylor made during those years, she projects such a loving presence that is hard to find fault with her acting. This actress showed such magnetism and charisma in her films, something perhaps no one else can match.
Vittorio Gassman was perhaps Italy's best modern actor. He was trying to break into American movies. As Paul Bronte, he makes quite an impression. He was dashing and had the presence and good looks to play opposite his gorgeous costar.
John Ericson shows he had potential to go far in the business. Unfortunately he never made it big in Hollywood. He was an accomplished actor who deserved better. Louis Calhern as Nicholas Durant, Lulu's father had only a few scenes in the movie, so it is puzzling for one to agree with another comment about how he carried the film on his shoulders. If it was, it remains a mystery to us. Mr. Calhern was a fine actor who show a natural elegance to every thing he did in the movies.
Ms. Taylor is dressed by Helen Rose, one of the best in the business. Ms. Rose designs are an asset; anything that Elizabeth Taylor wore in the film enhanced her figure and gave the viewer an opportunity to see her as the film goddess was always was.
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