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Song Without End is A Memorable Musical Biography ****
Opulent film is terrific with Dirk Bogarde playing Franz Liszt in a totally memorable performance. Capucine, as the Princess Carolyne, and Genevieve Page, as the abandoned mistress, were truly terrific here as well as a fine supporting performance by Martita Hunt, as the Czar's sympathetic sister. Hunt literally made a career of playing strong, erudite women.
The set decorations here are phenomenal, they're on par with the great 1944 film "Wilson."
The music is magnificent although we could have done without knowing about the friendship between Liszt and the anti-Semite Richard Wagner. Another flaw is the miscasting of Lou Jacobi as Bogarde's manager. Jacobi sounded like he came out of the Catskills. This film for Jacobi came after his super performance, the year before, in the beloved "The Diary of Anne Frank." (Happy Birthday Lou as you turn 95 on Dec. 28th.)
The first part of the film deals with Liszt's career. His playing in concerts in various European countries was remarkable. The second part deals with his ill-fated love with the Countess Cathryne of Lichtenstein.
While we see that Liszt entered the priesthood when his proposed marriage to Cathryne was rejected, we really can't tell if Cathryne became a nun. I imagine no since she was still technically married in the eyes of the church. Nonetheless, we have a powerful, beautifully acted film. Too bad that Totentanz, a Liszt masterpiece, was not played here. I had to know that piece of grand music in a required music course at college. Like the movie, Totentanz was a masterful piece.
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