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Franklin J. Schaffner
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Franklin J. Schaffner
ONCE UPON A TIME, there were different types of movies. These different movies coexisted even though each one had something different to offer....
This seems obvious at first, but I thought I'd point it out during this review because it seems a few people may have forgotten. This is just a fun movie for Pavarotti fans. That's all it is. It doesn't claim to be anything else or anything grander. People who deride it as something that fell short of a promise aren't seeing the whole picture- literally. After all, Hollywood makes movies all the time that are shameless vehicles for people (Bodyguard or The Preacher's Wife w/Whitney Houston are 2 examples that spring to mind.)
First I'd like to address the movie as a vehicle for Pavarotti. There are worse things in this world-- and worse movies. The singing is fabulous and the selection of arias is fun. The movie starts with Schubert's Ave Maria and then Leoncavallo's Matinatta. Pav sings arias from La Gioconda, Manon Lescaut, and Turandot but also sings popular music such as "I left my heart in San Francisco" and the song that was nominated for an Oscar & Golden Globe, "If we were in Love" w/music by John Williams & lyrics by Alan & Marilyn Bergman- all 3 previous Oscar winners.
The story isn't that bad. It was built for Pavarotti so of course it's not going to be something that's profound or universally applicable to the average movie viewer. It's a story of a famous opera singer who was traumatized by a bad night at the opera years ago. When asked to sing again at the same place, the "MET" in NYC, he loses his voice from fear. Doctor Pamela (or Pah-MAY-lah in Italian:)) played by Kathryn Harrold- gives him a shot to cure his psychosomatic reaction. He offers her the chance to have a fling with him and she reluctantly accepts.
They embark on an affair, she knowing he's married & promising not to fall in love with him and him thinking she will be just another woman. Despite all that, they fall in love (thus the song, "IF we were in love") and with her help, he overcomes his fear & goes back to the MET where he triumphs. I won't tell how it ends, but it's fairly predictable. Which isn't always a bad thing.
The performances in this aren't that bad. Pavarotti (who plays Giorgio Fini) isn't an actor, so if you're expecting a Spencer Tracy or Tom Hanks performance, YOU are deluded, not Pavarotti. He knows he's not a thespian. What he is is cute, charming & charismatic. He is having fun himself, and if you can just let yourself have fun too, it's not so bad. One funny line is when he tells Pamela (Harrold) that she's a "thirsty plant, Fini can water you!" and of course, she says, "I don't want to be watered on by Fini!" Kathryn Harrold is very sweet and does a nice job as a semi-uptight woman who learns from this extravagant man to live a little. One of my favorite lines in the movie is: "Life never has to be life size." And there's Eddie Albert who does his usual good job as Fini's manager. There are several "themselves" cameos by real conductors, singers, etc. and it is filmed on location at the Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center.
If you like opera, if you like Pavarotti, or if you can just let yourself go & enjoy a "little fling" just like he proposes in the movie- then you can enjoy this movie for what it is. I know I do- EVERY time. :)
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