User Reviews (7)

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  • I adore opera and classical music in general, and after seeing Ezio Pinza singing "the Coronation Scene" from "Boris Godunov" featured on the documentary "The Art of Singing:Golden Voices of the Twentieth Century" I told myself I must see it. The result is a flawed but very underrated musical biopic based on the life and career of impresario Sol Hurok.

    The story I do admit is a little schmaltzy and occasionally uninteresting, the script sometimes feels a little cobbled together and the film does start off a little slow. But the performances, production values and especially the music more than make up for any misgivings.

    The film is in general beautifully shot, the cinematography is very nice and the sets and costumes in especially "the Coronation Scene" are colourful and lavish. The music is extraordinarily delightful, one review summed it up perfectly, it really is a treasure trove. "Boris Godunov" and "Faust" are operatic masterpieces, and "The Dying Swan" was close to heart-rending.

    I for one liked the performances. David Wayne may initially be an unlikely choice for Sol Hurok, who as an impresario had exceptional talent, but he still manages to do something special with the role. The scene with him causing a scene about the big dinner bill was quite amusing. Anne Bancroft is lovely as Emma Hurok, and Isaac Stern plays with sensitivity as violinist Eugene Ysaye. Tamara Toumanova dances with real grace as the legendary Anna Pavlova, and Roberta Peters and Jan Peerce sing beautifully.

    My favourite though was Ezio Pinza's Chaliapin. Pinza was a wonderful bass, evident in Don Giovanni, with a rich noble voice and imposing stage presence. He sure had a lot to live up to, as Chaliapin quite rightly was a singing legend, who along with Boris Christoff is considered the definitive Boris Godunov. Pinza sang and acted beautifully, his singing as always was sublime in such a demanding and dramatic role.

    Overall, this is a very good and underrated film. 8/10 Bethany Cox
  • I was very young when I saw this movie eons ago but what I recall most was the beautiful music in it which steered me in the direction of appreciating classical/operatic music ever after. Ezio Pinza was a favorite, a marvellous voice; the Dying Swan dance of Toumanova I still remember. An amusing, insignificant memory was of David Wayne, as Sol Hurok, who makes quite a scene after picking up the bill and remonstrates on the high cost of dining out with friends. Funny how the little things seem to stick in one's mind half a lifetime later. It would be just great to be able to see it again. Maybe I'll write a letter to Santa and ask him to send this one to me, pronto! ;-)
  • The movie itself is pure schmaltz (exemplified by tenor Jan Peerce's voice emanating from the face of a "Hollywoodier" actor), but the music is a treasure trove. The great Pinza portraying the great Chaliapin! One legend playing another? Not to mention Isaac Stern as Ysaye, and Toumanova as Pavlova. Wow! I know my Moussorgsky, and Pinza's extremely rare outing in the Russian original of "Boris" is impeccable. Best of all, I have heard a dozen versions of the final trio from Gounod's "Faust," including the thunderous Christoff-Gedda-de los Angeles rendition, but the Pinza-Peerce-Peters tour de force in this movie leaves me gasping for air. A travesty that no video is available. Someone on the Internet offers a print for $400+, but I neglected to bookmark and cannot relocate the source.
  • I was sixteen years old when I saw this movie and was enthralled with the singing of Pinza, Peerce and Peters. It was hard to sit still to the playing of Isaac Stern. Anne Bancroft was lovely to look at, maybe a little wooden then but this was a terrific experience. I wish someone would discover a print and at least show it on the tele.
  • When I first saw this film in 1953, I was 14 years of age. The violin playing of Isaac Stern so impressed me that I applied to join the school orchestra the next day. Within a year, I won the school's music prize. I joined the British Army's band and served a full 22 years. I now arrange music for Concert Wind Band and orchestra. It's a delightful film full of superb performances by artists, sadly, no longer with us. It has remained my favourite film all these years. 20th Century Fox have finally brought the film out onto a DVD (and not before time). The story is very loosely based on Sol Hurok - with Hurok as the film's adviser, I would imagine you see only what Hurok wanted you to see. Still, a very enjoyable film and well worth getting the DVD, if only for the superb performances of Isaac Stern, Roberta Peters, Ezio Pinza and Jan Peerce.
  • I am disappointed that there does not seem to be any videos available of this film. About 15 years ago, it was possible to get a long-play record of the soundtrack, but, sadly, I was too late to buy a copy, because it was deleted from the catalogues. I have requested the showing of the film on British TV, but the reply is - there is no print available. What a shame that this film is a memory only. Someone must know where a print is kept or can be restored.
  • The acting is rather flat. The musical numbers are what are worth watching. The singing and dancing are wonderful. It is too bad this movie was made before great sound systems.