Marjorie Lawrence (Eleanor Parker) crowds her life with excitement and achievement from the day she leaves her Australian home and goes to Paris to study voice. After a triumphal debut at the Paris Opera she becomes famous overnight, and her debut at the Met in New York establishes her as one of the great singers of her time. With all her dreams come true, tragedy strikes in the form of infantile paralysis and she faces a life of confinement to a wheel chair. Although she reaches the depths of despair, she manages through the love and devotion of her husband, Dr. Tom King (Glenn Ford), she begins to build a new career by singing to servicemen who, like herself, are confined to wheel chairs. Written by
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Glenn Ford was at a lull in his career when he was offered the part of Dr. King. Even so he made it a condition that he receive top billing--which rightfully belonged to the film's' star Eleanor Parker--or he wouldn't do the part. Parker said she always cared more about the projects than the billing, but this is one time she regretted giving in because she very much wanted the credit as star of the picture. She also says that Ford shamelessly tried to upstage her at every chance by walking away from her, and the camera, forcing her to turn her back to the camera to interact with him. See more »
When Marjorie 'Margie' Lawrence takes a same-day return trip by steam train from her merino sheep farm at Winchelsea to Geelong, she does so on Anzac Day. At 4 minutes 12 seconds, the sign says "Friday April 25". The first Anzac Day was on 25th April 1916. Friday 25th April 1924 is the only possible Friday Anzac Day. See more »
MGM fashioned a sumptuous, full-scale production in bringing the career of Australian opera diva Marjorie Lawrence to the screen. Heading the cast as Lawrence is the fine Eleanor Parker, in one of her most impressive roles. Co-starring as her supportive doctor-husband is the talented Glenn Ford. Both are most convincing in relaying the inspirational "real life" story of their struggle with physical- career- and marital-obstacles.
Whether Lawrence did in fact sing roles which included lyric soprano, dramatic soprano, mezzo and Wagnerian, as depicted here, is open to question. Still, it is lovely to see these excerpts staged so beautifully, and in gorgeous Technicolor. Of invaluable assistance is the magnificent voice of Eileen Farrell in a remarkably varied repertoire.
It may not be possible to experience the real impact of these scenes unless there is a special house revival with a full-sized Cinemascope screen and stereo sound. The formats of VHS and even DVD to not do justice to the original production.
Although Lawrence assisted on the script, the actual unfoldment has the ring of fact merging with fiction for maximum dramatic impact. Now that Lawrence's 30's and 40's career is but a memory in the minds of a few, what remains is this romanticized version of history. As such, lovers of romantic drama and of music may revel in a tale of ardor and challenge, with the artistic product being the "fusion of the arts": grand opera.
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