Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Great Waltz (1938).

The Great Waltz (1938). Biographical film based loosely on the life of, Johann Strauss II. Cast: Luise Rainer, Fernand Gravet and Miliza Korjus. It was the only starring role for Korjus, who was a famous opera soprano and played one in the film.

Joseph Ruttenberg won the Academy Award for Best Cinematography. Korjus was nominated for Supporting Actress and Tom Held for Film Editing.

While Johann Strauss, the son of the well-known waltz composer, is working at his job in a bank,  he is caught working on his music and is fired.  He is in love with Poldi Vogelhuber, the daughter of baker Kienzl, who has an employee, who is also a amateur musician, suggests that they start an orchestra of their own. A short time later, they get a job at the Donmayer's Cafe, but their music does not seem to interest Otto's customers, but.. his music brings in everyone from miles around to listen to him perform. Just as Johann leaving, Fritz Schiller and Carla Donner, two stars from the Imperial Opera, arrive at the cafe and ask to have the orchestra play for them. Johann plays a new waltz, "Artist's Life". Schiller, is impressed with Johann and arranges for him to attend a party at the palace of Count Hohenfried. Carla sings one of Johann's waltzes, which attracts the attention of the music publisher Julius Hofbauer, but Johann is insulted because he does not think they take him seriously. He storms out of the party and marries, Poldi. A short time later, a revolution breaks out and Johann writes a march that becomes the anthem of the revolutionaries. One day, as marchers start to sing the song in the streets, they surround the coach of an aristocrat. Just as violence is about to break out, Johann sees Carla is in the coach and comes to her rescue. They then drive through the Vienna Woods and Johann is inspired by the sounds of the forest to compose a song, which he and Carla  sing. They are then caught in a rainstorm and take cover at a small inn where the innkeeper, who thinks that Carla is Johann's wife tells her "it must be wonderful to be the wife of Johann Strauss." After she agrees, Johann leads the inn's small orchestra in one of his compositions and he and Carla realize that they are in love.

As Johann and Carla were about to board the ship traveling to Budapest, he finds that he can not leave behind, his wife Poldi. Will he say goodbye to Carla?

THE GREAT WALTZ is a wonderful musical with, beautiful, cinematography. Luise Rainer at her best and Miliza Korjus was wonderful in their performance . The plot wonderfully mixes music and sentiment together.

Fernand Gravey (December 25, 1905 November 2, 1970), was the son of actors Georges Mertens and Fernande Depernay, who performed in silent films.

He started performing at the age of five, under his father's direction.  He received his education in Britain, so could speak both French and English. Which would become useful in his later movie roles.

He had made four silent films in 1913 and 1914, but his first film of any importance was, L'Amour Chante in 1930. In 1933, he made his first English language film, Bitter Sweet.

The first two films he made in America were, The King and the Chorus Girl (1937), his fifth film in English (opposite Joan Blondell and Jane Wyman) and Fools for Scandal (1938), opposite Carole Lombard and Ralph Bellamy. He then signed with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and was cast as Johann Strauss in the biopic The Great Waltz, opposite Luise Rainer and Miliza Korjus.

Among his last English language performances were, How to Steal a Million (1966), Guns for San Sebastian (1968) and The Madwoman of Chaillot (1969).


  1. Hi Dawn,

    Yes. This is one of my mom's favorites. The classic waltz is superb.

    Have you ever thought about doing a piece on MGM's "It's Always Fair Weather"? One reason why I like it is because it doesn't fit the standard happy prototype as other musicals do. The whole cast is great. Gene Kelly's number on roller skates is amazing as is Cyd Charisse's boxing ring dance. My favorite is Dolores Gray doing "Thanks a lot But No Thanks". The performance is a potent statement of female empowerment as Dolores dispatches her various suitors by lethal means. It's comical, entertaining, but very different. It could be worth some critical analysis.

    I would also like to congratulate you on having a piece that focuses on the great Gene Krupa. He is really one of the big revolutions in drumming. Since he arrived on the scene, the energy level of the big band had risen and the drums were in the forefront of the mix. He helped pave the way for guys like Buddy Rich, Louie Bellson, and all the great drummers for generations. Thanks!


  2. Welcome Rick, I will do a review on the movie, "It's Always Fair Weather". I just need a few days. I do not know what I have not done so before now.

    Thank you. I think Gene Krupa, is an amazing drummer.. I first saw him perform in the film, " Ball of Fire " and became instantly hooked.