By a curious coincidence, two of the only three major films based on the British recording industry were made at Ealing within a year of each other. One was the nowadays rarely seen George Formby vehicle 'Feather your Nest', the other the subject of this review, 'Calling the Tune'. As you might expect, the Formby movie uses gramophone recording as the basis for broad though effective comedy whilst 'Calling the Tune' could not be more different. Here the approach is that of melodrama, the story outlining the rivalry between two recording firms around the time of the onset of electrical recording in the late 1920s. The narrative is well-paced and plausible, and acted with some verve not only by stalwarts of the profession such as Lewis Casson (one of his best screen appearances) but also by newcomers such as Clifford Evans, later to achieve huge box-office success in 'While I Live', or Donald Wolfit, best seen in 'Room at the Top' and the inspiration for Albert Finney's hugely entertaining Sir in 'The Dresser' But the main claim of 'Calling the Tune' to posterity's interest is the line-up of notables who attend the recording studio to cut discs. For aficionados of classical music, the sight of Sir Henry Wood conducting his Queen's Hall orchestra is a genuine delight. For lovers of music hall, there's George Robey performing one of his patter routines. And, perhaps weirdly, Sir Cedric Hardwicke steps forward to declaim some Shakespeare in very much the oratorical style he employs in 'Things to Come' shot at Denham in the same year. As an historical record this movie is absolutely fascinating, but as entertainment it works pretty well too, especially at its exciting climax.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this