Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Constant Nymph

(1943, USA, 112min, b/w)
d Edmund Goulding p Henry Blanke sc Kathryn Scola ph Tony Gaudio ed David Weisbart ad Carl Jules Weyl m Erich Wolfgang Korngold cast Charles Boyer, Joan Fontaine, Brenda Marshall, Alexis Smith, Charles Coburn, Dame May Witty, Peter Lorre, Jean Muir

Mainly of interest for Korngold’s attempt to elevate the general standard of music in films (and for its disappearance into a rights limbo almost since release) this has Boyer and Fontaine both on classic form, he brooding, free-willed and artistic, she simpering, mooning and sickly. The composer who will only rise to greatness once he learns to cry gets a splendid opportunity to do so by the end, while the spectre of Letter from an Unknown Woman hovers close at hand. Various European settings stink of the Warners soundstage, and for all the debate about musical artistry and the lush symphonic poem that crowns the story, Korngold’s contribution never transcends traditional movie-music schmaltz, which sort of emotive nonsense Boyer so sensibly contemns for much of the film. The weepie mechanics are sound, however, and the supporting cast is top notch.

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