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Johanna von Koczian,
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A minor film perhaps, but a testimony to great voices' ability to rise above Hollywood's greatest efforts at sabotage
The studio's effort to cram in a piece exploiting Lanza's success in THE GREAT CARUSO before his promised fine (if unfaithful reduction of) STUDENT PRINCE, this film today is chiefly of interest for one of the too few opportunities to see the great Doretta Morrow and the last of Lanza appearing rather than merely dubbing on screen. It is well WORTH seeing, but could have been so much more.
Lanza was starting the uncontrolled fluctuation of weight which ultimately resulted in Edmond Purdom playing the student prince (with Lanza's singing voice) and his resulting (continuing?) insecurity affected his treatment of all around him. Morrow had the chance to do the film because Lanza's last leading lady refused to work with him again. On the weight front - when not an actual medical problem, frequently the outlet for emotional problems - we wouldn't see the like (a film lead's weight appearing to fluctuate drastically within a scene) until 25 years later when Elizabeth Taylor filmed A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC in 1977.
Just as bad, the studio hair, make-up and design departments did everything in their considerable power to hide Morrow's remarkable light under a bushel. Seek out her televised appearance opposite Alfred Drake in THE ADVENTURES OF MARCO POLO (Drake and Morrow had wanted to televise their original Broadway KISMET roles, but the studio had the rights tied up for lesser talents): Morrow's was a beauty and voice considerably superior to any of Lanza's other screen leading ladies!
Despite these severe handicaps the film, silly post-war plot (singing soldier falls for his sergeant's sister) and all, remains entertaining even if less than great art. It's a pity that we can only now get it in a *burned* DVD from Warner Archives (after an initial VHS release), but we'll be thankful for what we can get - even while noting the commercial doublethink. Warner Brothers doesn't think the film well sell well enough to justify a full (more permanent) *pressed* release, but heavily "copyblocks" the DVDs they do put out to try to make it harder for purchasers to share the disc if Warners' takes it out of print again.
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