12 December 2004 | Handlinghandel
Very Dark, Moving Musical
This begins with failed agent Pat O'Brien planning his suicide. A porter in his building catches his ear with his cowboy song. Could this be the new star to make his name and fortune? The porter is James Melton, who soon is taken to an operatic vocal coach presciently named Menotti. Menotti sees him as someone who could be a star at the Met with five years of training and Melton's "Celeste Aida" is sung in a fine tenor.
O'Brien wants quick results, though, and betrays him, making him a more popular-style singer who can rake in the bucks. He does and stardom goes to his head but he takes to the sauce, betraying O'Brien in return.
This is not the first time I've seen O'Brien in a role that suggests gay or closeted gay feelings. The reconciliation between these two is strange indeed for a scene between two men in a mid-thirties movie.
O'Brien wants to make a star of Jean Muir, too, but Menotti hears her "Ave Marie" sung in church and doesn't think she has the goods. She and O'Brien end up together but the movie is really about his and Melton's characters.
It is dark and quite elegant, a touching movie whose title has little to do with it and is misleading. Perhaps O'Brien smiles once but if so, it is the exception rather than the rule. His performance is subdued and he seems beaten down.