“You must work, work, and work.”
When an operatic guru (Tullio Carminati) takes an aspiring soprano (Grace Moore) under his wing, they maintain a strict and highly regimental work environment — but will romance inevitably flourish between the two?
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Aspiring Stars
Operatic diva Grace Moore was notoriously challenging to work with on multiple fronts. After being denied Jeanette McDonald’s role in The Merry Widow (1934) with MGM due to her fluctuating weight, she signed on with Columbia Pictures, but studio head Harry Cohn was nervous about making a film with operatic music for mass audiences. As described in TCM’s fact-filled article:
“Columbia’s chief negotiator in uneasy situations, Sam Briskin, summoned Miss Moore and told her the deal was off; Columbia would buy out her contract. She responded with what was to be recognized as the Moore style. She screamed her refusal and stalked out of the office, slamming the door hard enough to shatter the glass.”
The resulting film is a fairly standard “I wanna be a star and will do whatever it takes!” romantic musical melodrama, with the twist that Carminati — having recently ended an affair with an untalented but wealthy ingenue (Mona Barrie) — sets strict “work only” guidelines despite Moore living with him. Will Carminati and Moore fall for one another, even though he works her like a dog and doesn’t appear to have much charisma? I’ll leave that to you to find out. Moore’s musical numbers are a treat, so at least this is a good opportunity to see and hear her in action.
Note: It’s especially touching and timely to see the impromptu balcony concert taking place during the beginning of the film, as Italians join together across apartments to make collective community music.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- The opening balcony concert scene
- Several enjoyable musical sequences
No, though opera fans may be curious to check it out.