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Serenade (1956)

Approved | | Drama, Music, Romance | 23 March 1956 (USA)
Damon Vincenti, a young vineyard worker, has a beautiful tenor voice and dreams of becoming a great opera singer. He debuts at Lardelli's Italian restaurant in San Francisco, where he is ... See full summary »

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(screenplay), (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview:
...
...
Kendall Hale
...
Juana Montes (as Sarita Montiel)
...
Charles Winthrop
...
Maestro Marcatello
...
Tonio
...
Marco Roselli
Silvio Minciotti ...
Lardelli
...
...
Everett Carter
Licia Albanese ...
Desdemona in 'Otello'
Jean Fenn ...
Soprano in San Francisco
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Storyline

Damon Vincenti, a young vineyard worker, has a beautiful tenor voice and dreams of becoming a great opera singer. He debuts at Lardelli's Italian restaurant in San Francisco, where he is spotted by Kendall Hale, a society girl who enjoys launching young artists while making them her lovers before dumping them after use. Damon is no exception to the rule: he becomes famous but Kendall leaves him abruptly. He feels so affected that he must give up singing. In Mexico, where he has got back in touch with his inner self, Damon meets Juana Montès.They are happy and get married. But Kendall is still around... Written by Guy Bellinger

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The most thrilling story-with-music ever made is Mario Lanza in 'Serenade.' All the quivering excitement of James M. Cain's best-seller...The story of a farm hand who won fame as a singer and almost lost his soul as a man! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Music | Romance

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

23 March 1956 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Serenata  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Color:

(WarnerColor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Warner Brothers bought the screen rights to the book in February 1944 and over the next 10 years various people were associated with it. At one point Ann Sheridan and Dennis Morgan were set to co star and later Michael Curtiz was set to direct. See more »

Quotes

Damon Vincenti: Hey! Are you hiring a singer or a bookkeeper?
Lardelli: Oho, he IS a tenor!
See more »

Connections

Remade as Kirik plak (1959) See more »

Soundtracks

My Destiny
Music by Nicholas Brodszky
Lyrics by Sammy Cahn
Performed by Mario Lanza
See more »

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User Reviews

 
An underrated treasure
5 February 2003 | by (New Zealand) – See all my reviews

Serenade is far and away Lanza's most interesting movie. True, The Great Caruso is a more accessible film (and the best introduction to Lanza), but Serenade packs a far greater punch. This is melodrama to the nth degree, and fittingly it contains some of the finest dramatic singing ever recorded.

Let's get the quibbles out of the way first. Injudicious editing has made some of the scenes appear silly and illogical. The speed with which Lanza becomes obsessed with Joan Fontaine seems absurd, and the ending could have been so much better. Would that the scenarists had had the courage to follow more closely the James Cain novel on which this movie is based, but then again, this was Hollywood, 1955. Had the movie been made without the censorship constraints of, say, a mere ten years later, it could have been a masterpiece. All I can say is, read the novel and you'll see what I mean!

I would also criticize Anthony Mann's direction at times. Re-takes of some of Lanza's hammier moments should definitely have been made, and the film lacks (at times) the full dramatic treatment that its subject deserves. Re-takes of Lanza's Nessun Dorma and Di Quella Pira should also have been made. In both arias he sounds uncharacteristically strained, and in each case a second take would have sorted out the problem.

Quibbles aside, Lanza's acting is often outstanding (the Ave Maria scene, for instance, is a revelation). Vincent Price, Lanza's acid-tongued and hilarious manager in the movie, later remarked off-screen how impressed he was with the tenor's dedicated approach to his acting. Sarita Montiel is also outstanding in her role as a fiery Mexican bullfighter's daughter, providing Lanza with his best-ever leading lady.

But what makes this film a vocal masterpiece is Lanza's singing. La Danza, Torna a Surriento, Amor Ti Vieta, O Paradiso, the Otello Monologue (Dio! Mi potevi scagliar...) and the heart-rending Lamento Di Federico are all astonishing feats of singing. By 1955 Lanza's voice had darkened into a lirico spinto tenor that often borders on the dramatic. It is rare indeed to hear a tenor with such baritonal fullness AND a ringing tenorial top. (Eat your heart out, Placido Domingo!) Lanza For my money, the Otello Monologue is the pinnacle of Lanza's operatic legacy, and the finest recording of this aria. The scene in which it appears is also brilliantly acted by Lanza. As the critic John Cargher would later remark, Lanza's rendition of the Otello Monologue alone "would assure him of immortality."

All criticism aside, Serenade remains a source of immense pleasure to me, and it is richly deserving of far wider appreciation.


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