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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
With the help of Marjorie Oelrichs (Kim Novak), a charming socialite he
has met at New York's Central Park Casino, Eddy Duchin was part of the
two piano team featured by Leo Reisman (Larry Keating) Orchestra in the
Duchin's distinctive playing wins him rapid fame... His measured weight of fingering ensured a balance between poetry and purpose... Every sound conceivable was possible in his artistic palette... He played wonderful music... His piano tone itself was gorgeous and versatile... He amazed audiences with his immense vigor, virtuosity and daring technique... He was soon a darling of Marjorie and high society...
His love affair with Marjorie culminates in marriage... but the perfect happiness is short-lived as Marjorie fades away in child-birth on Christmas Eve...
Heartbroken, Duchin declines to accept his baby blaming him for Marjorie's death and turns him over to Marjorie's uncle and aunt to be cared and raised, and embarks an overseas concert tour with his friend & manager, Lou Sherwood (James Whitmore).
During World War II, while serving as Naval Lieutenant Commander in the Pacific, Duchin realizes the futility of his attitude about his son, now ten, but his attempts to reconcile with him failed because of the boy's resentment...
With the help of Chiquita (Victoria Shaw) Peter's pretty nanny, he finally wins his son over and with his ability to charm as well as to thrill audiences, he proves himself as the pianist of sentiment par excellence... Nothing equaled the lightness & sweetness of his preluding on the piano...
But tragedy once again overtakes Duchin's daisy fingers as he learns he is suffering from leukemia and has only a short time to live...
Duchin's passing from the scene playing a "little double piano" with Peter is a duo-handkerchief climax...
Tyrone Power won the hearts of the audience playing the pianist and bandleader Eddy Duchin... He does not interpret music, he exudes it, breathes it, compelling showmanship with great freedom, taste and intelligence...
With a stupendous distribution of Duchin's fine piano, the film is predictable, handsome & sentimental...
This was one of my favorite movies as a kid - not only does it have
great musical sequences, but it is a real tearjerker. I read recently
that this movie just about ruined the life of Peter Duchin, Eddy's son.
I can't imagine what it must be like to be a character in such a
popular film that shows up on AMC just before you play your next gig.
George Sidney did a beautiful job of directing, and no expense was spared for this Technicolor movie filmed on location in New York. There are so many great shots of the city -- if you're familiar with New York, watching the movie is all that much more enjoyable. The film appears to follow the structure of Duchin's actual life but how much is fact and how much is fiction is hard to say. What is fact is that Carmen Cavallero does a divine job dubbing the piano, and Tyrone Power's fingerings are excellent. He apparently worked at them night and day, and the result was worth it.
There are some wonderful scenes in the film, one of the best being when Duchin talks about his love for Marjorie to Chiquita, who is about to become his new wife. It's such a beautiful monologue about how you can be young and love someone the way he did Marjorie only once, watch your parents age only once etc. - needless to say, hearing that little speech today means more to me now than it did when I was 14. Another great scene is Eddy and a little boy playing chopsticks on a rickety piano in wartime; and, of course, Eddy talking to his son at the playground toward the end of the film.
Tyrone Power knew Eddy Duchin personally as he knew just about everyone, and his portrayal is masterful. In the beginning, however, he's the young Eddy and it's obvious that he's way too old to be fresh out of college. Power was 41 at the time of the filming, and it wasn't the 41 of 2006 - it was a 1950s, three-pack-a-day, party all night, I fought in World War II 41 - hello. You would have thought that the lighting man and cameramen would have worked just a tad harder - we're talking about Tyrone Power here, not some nobody. A little star treatment, please. Instead, Power ends up looking younger in the second half of the film. Ridiculous.
There are lots of posts about Kim Novak, who is very beautiful though vapid as Marjorie, but not much mention of the beautiful Australian actress, Victoria Shaw, who played Chiquita. Like Power and Duchin, she died young. She does an excellent job in the movie. One of the comments suggested the character of Chiquita is fictional; in fact, Duchin's widow was indeed Chiquita Wynn Duchin, and in 1947, Peter Duchin left the Harrimans to live with his father and his stepmother.
Rex Thompson plays the young Peter Duchin and though he makes a game try at hiding his British accent, he sounds British. As a young adult, Thompson was a handsome and fine actor - he worked into his twenties, and then faded from view. In real life, Peter Duchin went on to marry Margaret Sullavan's daughter, Brooke Hayward.
It's hard to hold back the tears during "The Eddy Duchin Story," so don't try. Enjoy the romance and be enveloped in a more gentile world where people had some class, and listen to that great music.
Expecting to be bored but knowing my wife would love the music, I sat
through 'The Eddie Duchin Story.' I'd never heard of Duchin, except to
know his son, Peter, was a fine pianist. Earlier in the evening, I'd
endured 'The Passion of the Christ,' and I really wasn't in the mood
for another downbeat movie. Much to my surprise, I loved every aspect
of 'Duchin.' Columbia's 'Monroe,' Kim Novak got top billing, much to my
surprise, since Tyrone Power was still a top matinée idol. Well, let me
tell you, whatever jokes you've heard about Novak, you'll forget them
when you see her a Marjorie, Duchin's doomed socialite wife. Appearing
less than an hour, Novak's grace and sweetness permeates the whole
movie. You'll adore Novak as much as Duchin. Power is only slightly
less effective, but he has a much rougher job. Power is in his mid
forties when he plays Duchin, and he must play the first hour as a man
in his mid twenties. Power is so frenetic, so energetic and earnest,
you fear he's going to have a heart attack. He did, three years later
on 'Solomon and Sheba' and died on the spot. Anyway, back to 'Duchin.'
James Whitmore is magnificent, as usual in a small role as Duchin's
manager. His little bit of business putting on his hat near the end of
the film perfectly captures and advance the mood of the movie. Victoria
Shaw is given the thankless role of Duchin's second wife, and she hit
just the right notes to make an impression without overpowering the
narrative. After all, this is Duchin's story, and her part of it is a
small but key part. Rex Thompson is perfect as young Peter Duchin,
displaying all the emotional conflicts a child would endure with his
history. He has an absolutely great scene near the end of the film, but
I won't spoil by telling you what happens. Let's just say he takes of
the responsibilities of manhood far younger than a child should. Warren
Hsieh as the native boy, is wonderful in helping to capture the mood
that is yet another turning point in Duchin's life.
Producer Jerry Wald has spared no expense at recreating a era in a manner as convincing as 'Titanic'. Director George Sydney once again proves he is skilled with a camera as he is with actors. The first kiss between Powers and Novak is seen as a reflection in a puddle. Just beautiful! George Duning provides the incredible score. Carmen Cavallaro performs the great piano classics..
I don't cry in movies too often. I didn't cry once in 'The Passion of the Christ'. But I couldn't hold back tears in many scenes in 'The Eddie Duchin Story'. That's saying a lot. Sure, 'The Eddie Duchin Story' is soap. But, there are many kinds of soap. Oil of Olay leaves you feeling fresh and clean and invigorated. So does 'The Eddie Duchin Story'. I give 'The Eddie Duchin Story' a '10'.
If you like to watch actors who are skilled, have on screen chemistry
to die for (and they do) and enjoy cinematography that might make you
want to take a stroll in Central Park, then rent, buy, borrow this CD
and sit back and watch it over and over and over again. This is a well
adapted screen play that moves through a life, tells the story well and
makes this love story very believable and of course tragic. Watch the
life of an extraordinary talent and sit back and enjoy. Tyrone Power
never disappoints and if you can capture his voice and keep it in a
bottle, you would And Kim Novak is stunning, sweeping and is well cast.
As Marjorie Oelrich she couldn't be more perfect. Also, besides being
an exceptional beauty, she, too, has a lovely voice. In a very
understated way, you want her to go on and on and on. James Whitmore
always delivers. All cast members are charming. You'll love the actor
who plays Lou Reisman, the orchestra leader at the Central Park Casino.
Enjoy folks. This one is a keeper. OHHHHHHHHHHH, you'll be amazed at
how well Tyrone Power plays the piano, or seemingly appears to be
playing. The music!!!! Oh, the music.
Now to the truth. There are many changes to the real story of Eddy Duchin. Peter Duchin was raised by Marie (he called Ma) and Averell Harriman. Peter's mother, Marjorie Oelrichs, died in July. Not as depicted in the film after Eddy Duchin's radio show from the Central Park Casino in the Winter, Christmas. The Harriman's are portrayed as the Wadsworth's. Why? I don't know why but if you read Peter Duchin's book "A Ghost of a Chance", you will get more of the inside scoop. Still a wonderful film.
I don't believe the young actor Rex Thompson was even close to Peter Duchin's persona. But that's my story.
The fine musical scenes and Tyrone Power's excellent performance are
among the highlights of THE EDDY DUCHIN STORY, filmed in spectacular
CinemaScope and containing lavish production values and fine
performances from its cast. It's sensitively directed by George Sidney,
a veteran director of M-G-M musicals, andas one reviewer may have
pointed outthe film is indeed a lovely Valentine to Eddie Duchin's
The film is a delight to watch and is highly enjoyable yet quite tragic in places. However, there are flaws within the film due to the sentimental music score and some unbelievably saccharine and fanciful scenes. But the fine performances and direction, as well as the beautifully filmed music sequences, make up for such flaws. I felt the same way about the George Gershwin biopic, RHAPSODY IN BLUE (1945).
Tyrone Power's performance as the talented and popular pianist is one of Ty's very best performances. Although Ty's looks remain middle-aged throughout the entire film, his transition from a young pianist in the 1920s to a World War II veteran battling leukemia is entirely believable. The film was a box-office hit in 1956 and was nominated for four Oscars but sadly, Tyrone Power was not nominated. I presume that it had to do with his "pretty boy" matinée idol roles at 20th Century-Fox in the past, which were roles that Ty hated playing and did little to enhance his reputation as an actor.
THE EDDY DUCHIN STORY is well worth watching, even more so for its piano sequences. And did I mention the hauntingly gorgeous Kim Novak? She stole my heart for about a half-hour, and she and Ty have nice chemistry together...even though she and Ty did not get along very well off-camera.
Eddy Duchin's music was so beautiful. He had a magic touch at the
piano. Unfortunately, his real life was so tragic.
Tyrone Power shines as Duchin. From his beginnings to success, Power evoked the right temperament in portraying this musician brilliantly.
Kim Novak, just off an awful performance in the acclaimed "Picnic," the year before, gives a wonderful supporting performance as Duchin's ill-fated first wife. Who can forget her fear of rain and thunder? Who can forget that thunder scene in the hospital as her life ends?
Victoria Shaw, as Eddy's second wife, is also quite good. She brings Eddy back so that life is worth living for him and is able to reconcile him with his young son, whose birth Duchin blamed for the death of his first wife.
We are fortunate to have had such a picture made and the legacy that Duchin left-his playing as well as his son, musician Peter Duchin.
In the late 20's, the talkative newly graduated in pharmacy and
aspirant piano player Eddy Duchin (Tyrone Power) comes from Boston to
New York expecting to play with the orchestra of Leo Reisman (Larry
Keating) at fancy New York's Central Park Casino. However he had
misunderstood the invitation of the maestro and while leaving the
place, he meets the wealthy socialite Marjorie Oelrichs (Kim Novak)
that asks Leo Reisman to give a chance to Eddy. He plays in the
intermission and becomes a successful piano showman. Two years later,
Marjorie and Eddy get married and in the Christmas, Marjorie has a
baby, Peter, but she dies after the delivery. Eddy rejects Peter
blaming him for the death of Marjorie and only five years later he
meets his son. With the World War II, Eddy Duchin breaks up his band
and enlists to fight in the war. With the end of the war, Eddy returns
to New York with the intention of getting closer to Peter but he sees
the boy connected to his friend Chiquita (Victoria Shaw). When Eddy
discovers that he has a terminal disease, he proposes Chiquita and they
When we see the biography of a personality by Hollywood, we are never sure that it is a true story or a fairy tale created by the cinema industry. Despite of that, the melodramatic "The Eddy Duchin Story" is a nice story of a man's life surrounded by music, beautiful ladies and tragedies. The forty-two year-old Tyrone Power has good performance and he really seems to be playing the piano, but it is funny to see him in the role of a newly graduated man. Kim Novak shines with her beauty, elegance and her sweet voice. Victoria Shaw is also gorgeous. The cinematography and the music score are awesome and deserved the nomination to the Oscar. My vote is seven.
Title (Brazil): "Melodia Immortal" ("Immortal Melody")
TYRONE POWER does a remarkably convincing job at the keyboard and the
camera seems to linger on his dexterity at the piano (on a dummy
keyboard, of course) while the magic of Carmen Cavallaro takes over on
the soundtrack. He's excellent as the brash and overly eager young
piano player who eventually makes bigtime as a popular pianist, marries
and loses his sweetheart, KIM NOVAK, with whom he has a young son who
at first resents him after Power's desertion, then reunites before
Duchin's untimely death from leukemia. That's the plot, in a nutshell,
but it's the sparkling music that counts.
The richly textured Technicolor photography of Manhattan and its settings evoke the time and period perfectly. I found KIM NOVAK's performance artificial and disturbingly unreal--as though she were affecting a series of poses--while Power is completely natural and appealing opposite her. Novak's performance here is a far cry from her work as Madge in PICNIC. The mood of the film becomes somber after her death and Power's decision to leave the country on tour, leaving his baby son behind. The conflict between Duchin and his son is what has to be resolved before the story ends.
The handsome production values are all enhanced by the constant use of Duchin's music, either in the background or with him at the keyboard and these qualities make it one of the most enjoyable musical biographies I've seen in a long time.
The film won four Oscar nominations and Power deserved to be included, but was not.
I saw this movie when I was 11 years old in 1959. Although, over the years, I was hooked by the songs in the movie and bought the record and tape to listen to in my adult life, I saw the the movie again last month and it brought a real new meaning of the life of Eddie Duchin. I was seeing the movie as an adult, not as a kid. Tyrone Power, who I have admired for years, play the part of Duchin real well. His portrayal as a father trying to reach to his son was touching and realistic. Kim Novack was very good in her part as his wife. The songs especially Chopin's E flat major and Manhattan were very well played by Carmen Cavallaro. Cavallaro is a favorite artiste of mine. He plays superbly and brings out the flavor of the songs. This movie is a classic and should be highly recommended.
In the 1920s, post-collegiate pianist Tyrone Power (as Eddy Duchin)
arrives at New York City's "Central Park Casino" expecting to be
employed by big band leader Leo Reisman. At first, the job doesn't pan
out, but Mr. Power's "sweet" piano-playing style eventually takes
Manhattan (and the world) by storm. He receives ample feminine support
from beautiful blonde socialite Kim Novak (as Marjorie Oelrichs), who
quickly becomes "Mrs. Duchin". But, on their wedding night, Ms. Novak
has a nightmarish premonition of tragedy. And, if you know anything
about how these biographical films go, you're already expecting a great
"The Eddy Duchin Story" is highly fictionalized. However, an Internet search for biographical information on the real Mr. Duchin shows not only his remarkable string of hit recordings, but also that the two tragedies occurring in this film really happened. It's like Mr. Duchin's life was tailor-made for one of these tear-jerking biography movies.
Power, who is a little too old for the early years, nevertheless does an excellent job in the role. He begins to look vaguely like Duchin, obviously worked hard on his characterization, and really makes the story work. Playing like a pro, young son Rex Thompson (as Peter Duchin) is a chip off the old block. And, when Novak takes her bow, up-and-coming Victoria Shaw (as "Chiquita" Wynn) sexily fills the screen. Producer Jerry Wald, director George Sidney, and the "Columbia" team make it a beautiful-looking and sounding picture, with the cinematography and music positively hitting the senses on both cylinders.
******** The Eddy Duchin Story (6/13/56) George Sidney ~ Tyrone Power, Rex Thompson, Kim Novak, Victoria Shaw
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