16 November 2013 | blitzebill
hellenious on wheels
I'll dispense with the details of the plot and move directly to Mr. Rains' performance as Hollenius the composer in this musico-melodrama.
This is his show although Davis and Henreid attempt to hold their own in this film.
His flair for manipulation and deception, hence the title, dominates the film.
He does a great job of it, driving everyone crazy with his shenanigans and jealousy.
The cinematography is well done and the story's setting in the world of post-WW II classical/modern music is interesting.
I noted that early on, for instance, as Henreid finished a performance, audience members asked him who his favorite living composer was..."Sibelius...or Shostakovich...?" No mention of Aaron Copland or the many other composers alive at the time.
Hollenius' work as a composer was a curious mix of tonal, traditional and slightly atonal influences, attempting to display "modern" music but watered down to keep the audience and us interested.
The mimicking of the piano and cello performances by all three actors was fairly well done.
I found it quite interesting too that both Davis and Rains were not "starving artists" like Henreid. Opulent apartments and lifestyles for piano teachers and composers were not common, but these two were well-off in an even garish sense.
This was not the reality of the time in the music world.
I'd recommend this film if you're a Rains or Davis fan. Henreid was not used for his full potential.