Joseph Schmidt was one of the unfortunate number of great and unique artist caught up in the political whirlpool that was 1930's Europe. He was a man of short stature physically, being barely five feet tall, but possessing a voice of surpassing stature. He came to fame initially on German radio in numerous broadcast operatic performances which were barred to him on stage because of his height. This film, shot in part on location in Venice, reflected these aspects of Scmidt's own life and in that sense renders the film as loosely biographic. This extends to a sweetly portrayed love triangle in the plot. I will not go into further plot details as they are largely irrelevant to the film's great strength which is the unsurpassed passionate singing of Schmidt further enhanced by his clearly apparent dignity and grace. This was a popular success upon it's release in Germany early in the Nazi regime and even Goebbles was described as being enthusiastic. This must have been a brief enthusiasm as Schmidt , originally a cantor, was driven by events to Austria , Holland,and eventually Vichy France from whence he reached Switzerland, illegally in 1942. There he ran afoul of an unsympathetic work camp administrator who "knew not Joseph' and put him to work despite his having developed chest. There he succumbed to heart disease at age 38. He was said to be singing up to an hour before death.
All this adds a certain poignancy to this and his other surviving films. "My Song goes Round The World" fortunately escaped attempted destruction by the Nazi's. One copy was found after the war. This restoration, by the Bel canto Society is a treasure.
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