In a sinister cabaret called "Madame Leander's," Sybille, the beautiful star attraction, sings her trademark chanson of "a romance that's false." However, she does not adhere the warnings of her own song and falls for a handsome young patron who frequents the club. She agrees to a horrific sacrifice with club's macabre owner in order to pursue the man she loves, but in the end the creditor must always be repaid... One way or another. Written by
'Silver Moonlight' concerns a singer who must choose between a career and love, reminiscent of the dancer's dilemma in 'The Red Shoes' but this time with a supernatural aura. The story begins a morgue where the coroners examine an unknown woman pulled from a lake. They notice something wrong with her mouth but we're not shown why and what lead to her death. This will all be revealed starting with the next time we see her singing in a flashback at a cabaret which will remind you of that movie, including a grinning MC/choreographer who's more obnoxious here as he berates his clumsy dancers. The female characters' first names are from German film stars during the Third Reich - Sybille (Schmitz), Renate (Muller), Madame (Zarah) Leander, Kristina (Soderbaum), Brigette (Helm) etc. Sybelle's boss, Madame Leander is angry that she attempted to leave the cabaret to follow a rich man named Matthias. To break her contract, she must accept Madame Leander's strange wager to prove that he really loves her instead of his jealous fiancé. Later she is told that her debt can only be repaid with an added requirement I won't reveal here. Meanwhile Sybille is shadowed by a sinister- looking man in black unseen by others except for her and Madam Leander. The scene with him leading Sybille in an eerie dance reminded me of a similar one from 'Fahrmann Maria' a Nazi-era German film, but there the black-clothed man, i.e. also Death, can be seen by everyone.
The photography, indoor sets, outdoor locations, and editing work well together in creating the needed mood of this mystery. The music is good including the theme song except for the first ballroom scene where the faster music is mismatched with the slower waltzing couples but this could be intentional to give a feeling of dislocation as Sybille doesn't fit into Matthias's social milieu. Lindsay Reynolds does a fine job as Sybille but Eric Calderone performance as Matthias is rather weak and Sabina Leigh as Madame Leander overacts. Unfortunately a lot of the cast's acting reminded me of a high school play. Overall production values make this a very good looking and sounding film but with better actors in most of the parts, 'Silver Moonlight' would have been a better film, not that it's a bad one. Judge for yourself.
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