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Franklin J. Schaffner
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Franklin J. Schaffner
Judging from what was said about 'Yes Giorgio' at the time of its release, this reviewer was expecting utter rubbish and a film bad enough to be among the worst films ever made.
Finally watching it, as a singer myself, a life-long opera enthusiast and as someone who likes Luciano Pavarotti very much, 'Yes Giorgio' is not a great film, or even a good one. However, to me it was not that bad. Taken for what it is, which is essentially a vehicle for Pavarotti, it's okay, with some huge flaws but also enough charms to make it worth a one-time-only watch.
Starting with the positives, 'Yes Giorgio' is beautifully shot and contains some positively gorgeous scenery, particularly towards the end. The music, which contains operatic favourites "Nessun Dorma" (Puccini's 'Turandot'), "Una Furtiva Lagrima" (Donizetti's 'L'Elsir D'Amore'), "Cielo e Mar" (Ponchielli's 'La Gioconda') and "La Donna e Mobile" (Verdi's 'Rigoletto') and popular classical songs "Ave Maria" (the Schubert version) and "O Sole Mio", is enough to transcend even non-opera fans to heaven, while the charming music score and the justly Oscar-nominated "If We Were in Love" complement beautifully.
Pavarotti as ever sounds absolutely glorious throughout the whole duration of 'Yes Giorgio'. All the operatic arias (especially "Nessun Dorma" and "La Donna e Mobile", "Una Furtiva Lagrima" is also quite heartfelt) suit him perfectly as do "Ave Maria" and "O Sole Mio", his endearing personality too shines. Eddie Albert gives his usual solid performance, he's understated but looks as if he's having fun too. Although Pavarotti is the thing that people will remember, Albert gives the best overall performance in the film.
Unfortunately, although Pavarotti sounds glorious and there is no doubting that he has a personality that radiates, his acting (which admittedly, with some exceptions, never was a strength of his) looks awkward and the amount of preparation and polish that went into the singing doesn't translate in the line delivery. He surprisingly (although he was not the best of actors, he always did have a charming rapport with his leading ladies) shares very little chemistry with the female lead Kathryn Harrold, or at least not a very natural or obviously amorous one. The romance is not very well written, being contrived and cloying, and Harrold's unbearably obnoxious performance is an even larger part of the problem, her character being written and performed in a way that makes one wonder what did Pavarotti's character see in her.
The script has some sweet and amusing moments, but too many forced and nauseatingly sugary ones as well. The romantic dialogue was particularly squirm-inducing, so much so it beggars belief how it was approved beyond first draft. With the story, the predictability- with a very old-fashioned premise that worked just fine before with the right execution but not so much now- isn't the issue, but the erratic pacing and thin structure were issues and even worse was that it felt more an excuse to string along arias and classical favourites to show off Pavarotti's voice and talents. Sure the Mario Lanza films can be seen as guilty of this too, but the acting was more consistent in those films with better leading ladies and while the stories were among the weaker assets of most they were handled with more charm and emotion and easier to relate to, never did they feel exploitative in the way 'Yes Giorgio' sometimes did. With the acting, the only really consistently good performance came from Albert, the rest of the supporting roles are underwritten and the rest of the performers can't do anything with the material.
Overall, okay for what it is and not as bad as its reputation but at the same time not particularly great or good. 5/10 Bethany Cox
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