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Andrew L. Stone
This movie failed on several levels, most importantly on not knowing what its audience would enjoy. It was a big budget movie, with great stars, and a plot based on a true story of ambition, jealousy, betrayal, pride, and great music - seemingly the ingredients for a terrific film. The story, while intriguing, was not directed in a style that fit either the lavish Austrian locales or the wonderful music of Johann Strauss. It was more of a musical in the style of Broadway, with the music treated that way. Hardly any of Strauss' waltzes were played in their entirety, the main exception being one sung by opera singer Mary Costa. In the movie, when the composer's greatest waltz was being debuted at a dance, the dancers all stood still and started swaying back and forth with the music rather than waltzing - totally unbelievable for a "Great Waltz"! This same scene was then interrupted by a non-Strauss sequence showing printing presses, with a song about how popular the composition became. The last half of the Strauss music was never presented.
If the movie was aimed at people who wanted to hear Broadway-style songs, it was marketed wrongly as the story of light classical music, so that audience did not go to see it. If it was aimed at people who wanted to hear Strauss waltzes, it tantalized without satisfaction.
It is no wonder that this big-budget potential blockbuster closed early in theaters, and has all but vanished from public memory, never even having been put on VHS or DVD.
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