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  • Rita and I enjoyed this film very much. It is obviously an attempt in the 1930's to make opera style music popular by mixing it with comedy. Nino Martini has a great voice, and with his Italian accent, reminded us a little of Roberto Benigni. The plot revolves around Nino, who is traveling to Hollywood in search of fame. He falls in with a gang of crooks who use his talent to distract everyone at a party while they steal the jewels. There are many great character actors doing their routines, such as Billy Gilbert with his sneezing, Alan Hale as an opera loving cop, Ward Bond as a thug, Alan Mowbray as the stuffy conductor, and co-starring Joan Fontaine as the love interest. There is also a great unbilled musical bit by Romo Vincent (I had never heard of him before) as a singing truck driver.
  • louismiccio12 April 2006
    This film is an unexplained "sleeper".. Wonderful cast and plot, and the song " I Want The World To Know" as sung by Nino Martini is unforgettable. Film difficult to locate and purchase, and copies available are poor (at least mine is), but most comes through reasonably well, and when it does, a splendid and nostalgic tribute to the lost genius of Hollywood to produce classic entertainment on low budgets. Don't miss this one. For some reason, this film is not included in any of the listed ones of Joan Fontaine. In this film, her performance is adequate and her appearance unflattering, and this may be the reason why she may not wanted to make known her performance in it. Of course, the film was probably one of her first ones, and in which, unfairly I believe, she considered her performance very poor.
  • This is an interesting little movie. It's a studio musical/comedy/romance/drama meant to showcase Italian opera singer Nino Martini. There aren't too many films from the old studio days that showcase opera, a sort of high-brow cultural pursuit. Lots of flicks about Broadway hoofers and Tin Pan Alley songsmiths, chorus girls and crooners, but rarely serious opera vocalists, foreign languages and all. RKO builds the film around the Italian tenor, and Martini is likable on-screen, his imperfect grasp of the English language endearing. I don't recall seeing him in any other movies.

    The story isn't something you see every day. An Italian tenor, new to America and on his way to Hollywood, is taken in by crooks who con him into playing a crucial part in a robbery. The tenor sings at a society party, thinking it'll break him into Hollywood. But his captivating performance is meant to serve as a distraction while the crooks snatch the loot. The authorities know the singer is involved in the theft, but nobody knows what he looks like out of his "Pagliacci" costume. The only way to identify the mysterious tenor is by his distinctive voice.

    This creates an interesting situation. A fugitive of the law, Nino can roam around Hollywood unrecognized, but he dare not sing. If caught he may face a prison sentence, and if he squeals on the crooks he may face much worse. He finds himself unable to pursue his dream of stardom because he must conceal his extraordinary talent.

    Meanwhile the police round up suspects and make them sing, searching for "the voice". It's like when the king's men went around testing the glass slipper in "Cinderella", hoping to find the maiden whom it would fit. The singer befriends an aspiring composer (Joan Fontaine), who helps him get work as a movie extra in a musical production, where it becomes evident that Nino's talent would far outshine that of the star tenor. How long can Nino keep his voice a secret? Can he continue to deceive the girl he cares about? Will guilt get the better of him? What would happen if he comes clean?

    As I said, it's an interesting picture. Something a bit different, and it's got music, romance, and a little internal drama, though the whole thing is handled rather lightly. Nino Martini comes off well as the hero who tries to set things right. The guy can sing, too. Joan Fontaine is very young and very pretty. Who wouldn't want to sing arias to her? Alan Hale does a good job as the buffoonish music-loving detective, with Grant Mitchell as the frustrated district attorney. Alan Mowbray is the pompous maestro who doesn't want Nino's talent to go to waste behind bars, Billy Gilbert provides sneezy comic relief, and Lee Patrick is Joan Fontaine's pal.

    6.5/10
  • "Music for Madam" is a light film from RKO starring opera singer Nino Martini and Joan Fontaine. It's fascinating to note that in the 1930s-1950s, opera was used in film plots and opera singers were hired for the movies. Then suddenly, it all stopped, even as musical films continued in popularity for a time after. The last attempt, a disaster, was Pavarotti in "Yes, Giorgio." What happened? Good question. But I'm sure if you took a poll, opera attendance in the U.S. is way down. I would venture to say cultural pastimes can't compete with the likes of the Kardashians, bubblegum music, and Honey Boo-Boo.

    Martini plays a naive tenor Nino Maretti who comes to Hollywood to make it in the movies. While he's singing on the bus, some thieves planning to rob valuable pearls at the home of a famous film impresario a la Stokowski (Alan Mowbray) decide he's just the ticket to distract the guests while they do their pilfering.

    After telling Nino that they can make him a star with their connections, they throw him in a clown costume and clown makeup and have him sing Vesti la giubba, giving them a chance to steal the pearls. At first, everyone wants to know his identity and several want to sign him to lucrative contracts.

    Several minutes later, they think he helped steal the pearls. With no name and no look at his real face, they can't find him. And poor Nino, as a wanted man, can't cash in on his success. Broke and despondent, he is befriended by a lovely young composer (Fontaine) who attended the party to present her music to the maestro. Nino falls for her but can't tell her what happened.

    Martini possessed a beautiful lyric tenor voice which he exhibits here, and also shared with audiences from the stage of the Metropolitan Opera. Though he was a lyric tenor, for some reason in those days lyrics often tended to heavier repertoire, as he did, singing some Verdi and Puccini, though the works of Donizetti and Rossini were really his specialty. Here, we get to hear part of Una furtiva lagrima, which was right up his alley.

    It's a nice film, worth it to hear Martini and see a very young and pretty Joan Fontaine.