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  • "Song Without End" has a low score here on IMDb. I'm not sure why. It is superior, in my opinion, in every way to "A Song to Remember" which is a nearly totally fictionalized story of Chopin. "Song without End" has the basic facts right, not to mention 40 absolutely gorgeous musical interludes. Jorge Bolet, who plays all of the piano pieces, captures the technical pyrotechnics, the richness of tone, and the passion for which Liszt was known as a performer.

    The film only covers part of Liszt's life and concentrates (naturally) on the turmoil in his love affairs, which leads to his attempt to marry the already married Princess Carolyne Wittgenstein; he left his married girlfriend, Countess Marie D'Agoult, the mother of his children for her. (One of his daughters, Cosima, married Richard Wagner, who features in this film.) I disagree with a previous comment complaining about the way Liszt is portrayed. While it's not emphasized, it is obvious that he was a man of great charity, donating many of his fees to various organizations, and playing many benefit concerts. Later on, he concentrated on composing, at which he was very successful. As a performer, Liszt was a bona fide rock star in his day, complete with hysterical fans. He was most certainly attractive to women and religiously conflicted.

    Dirk Bogarde does a sensational job as Liszt. This and "The Angel Wore Red" were his only Hollywood films. Even if they had been successful, it's doubtful Bogarde would have stayed in the states, as he probably wouldn't have been cast in the kinds of films he wanted to make and/or the kinds of parts he wanted to play. He makes a very romantic, intense Liszt, and his fingerings are nothing short of amazing. Capucine is good, if a little wooden, as Carolyne. The supporting cast is very good.

    The production and costumes are opulent, but they are dwarfed by the music. Definitely some of the most brilliantly performed classical music in film.

    Highly recommended for classical music lovers.
  • Ferencz Liszt was by most accounts a kind and pious man who shared his talents and privileges of his fame with his fans, students and fellow artists like Berlioz and Wagner. This film does him an injustice by portraying him as a prima donna and Lothario. Nevertheless, the producers must be commended for making it. It aroused my interest in classical music when I saw it at the age of 10.

    I thrilled to the bombast and impossible fingerwork of Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2. But the final piece Liszt (portrayed by Bogarde) played as he retreated to the monastery haunted me throughout my teenage years. Liebestraume No. 3 ("Dreams of Love") can either be a soothing balm or a cutting knife for the lovesick.

    Bogarde, who obviously knew his onions about piano playing displayed the exact fingerwork on the proper fields of the keyboard and his body English was totally convincing. Well after all, he was not only an actor but a true artist - an accomplished writer and a painter.

    Capuccine, touted as one of the most beautiful women at the time, portrayed the Princess of Witgenstein. But my heart fell for the jilted wife, the Belgian countess portrayed by Genevieve Page whom I found more,"simpatica."
  • Song Without End is indeed a film that does not display the characters in a believable situation. However, the music score is among the greatest in motion pictures.

    I will always remember that performance of ' Les Prelues'as being the most powerful that I have ever heard even from the best symphony orchestras.The performances of the late Jorge Bolet are magnificent.Especially during the clever arrangement of the Concerto/Hungarian Fantasia. It is clear that Dirk Bogarde is not playing the piano,yet one cannot help but take pleasure in the greatness of the music whomever is playing.

    The producer of the film also takes great pains in letting the audience know that Franz Liszt often performed the music of other composers like Wagner and Berlioz.He also was a great fan of Chopin. This is addressed in the film with care and intelligence.

    I remember this film as a child and can still remember the great music.Thank God! for the score from Song Without End.
  • Franz Liszt back in the day was maybe the first popular musical icon. Since we have no phonograph records of what he sounded like on the piano we only have his music to judge him by today. Good thing he wrote a lot of it.

    A Liszt concert back then if played for a mass audience was something like the reception that Elvis and The Beatles got back in their day. It aroused the jealousy of a lot of Liszt's contemporaries, but they respected his talent.

    Dirk Bogarde is a capable and charismatic Liszt who had a weakness for married women. He ran off with one and had a couple of kids by her and then seduces a royal countess. The two women in question are played by Genevieve Page and Capucine.

    Dirk and Cappy have a whole lot of hurdles to overcome before they can be happy, put there by the Romanov family and the Catholic Church, but it does sort of work itself out in the end.

    My favorite performance in the film is that of Martita Hunt who plays a dowager German princess who offers Liszt employment when he needs it.

    The film only covers a small portion of Franz Liszt's life, still it's a worthwhile biographical study.
  • Opulent film is terrific with Dirk Bogarde playing Franz Liszt in a totally memorable performance. Capucine, as the Princess Carolyne, and Genevieve Page, as the abandoned mistress, were truly terrific here as well as a fine supporting performance by Martita Hunt, as the Czar's sympathetic sister. Hunt literally made a career of playing strong, erudite women.

    The set decorations here are phenomenal, they're on par with the great 1944 film "Wilson."

    The music is magnificent although we could have done without knowing about the friendship between Liszt and the anti-Semite Richard Wagner. Another flaw is the miscasting of Lou Jacobi as Bogarde's manager. Jacobi sounded like he came out of the Catskills. This film for Jacobi came after his super performance, the year before, in the beloved "The Diary of Anne Frank." (Happy Birthday Lou as you turn 95 on Dec. 28th.)

    The first part of the film deals with Liszt's career. His playing in concerts in various European countries was remarkable. The second part deals with his ill-fated love with the Countess Cathryne of Lichtenstein.

    While we see that Liszt entered the priesthood when his proposed marriage to Cathryne was rejected, we really can't tell if Cathryne became a nun. I imagine no since she was still technically married in the eyes of the church. Nonetheless, we have a powerful, beautifully acted film. Too bad that Totentanz, a Liszt masterpiece, was not played here. I had to know that piece of grand music in a required music course at college. Like the movie, Totentanz was a masterful piece.
  • I saw this movie for one reason--it starred Dirk Bogarde. He was a wonderful actor and I'd watch him in anything--even a bio-pic! My dislike of most bio-pics is important to note, as unlike the other reviewers, I really didn't adore Franz Liszt and the idea of a film about him. That's because in my opinion (and I am sure many will disagree), most biographical movies are either short on entertainment value (they can be sluggish) or they avoid this by playing fast and loose with the facts. Frankly, I don't like either extreme. But when it comes to Liszt, I have no idea if this film is accurate--he is someone about whom I know very little (other than the fact that Bogarde looked nothing like him and the film makers did little to correct this). But I do know that the film is lethargic...very, very lethargic. So, despite his affairs and illegitimate children, the film managed to make all this very, very dull--and that is a crime. How can a film that often focuses on the composer's scandalous relationships be so turgid?! Perhaps because all too often nothing happens in the film--just lots and lots and lots of scenes with Bogarde playing either the piano or the organ. And, as many of the songs were not Liszt's compositions, I just felt a bit bored. So, aside from nice music (though a bit too much of it) and nice costumes, I found the whole thing pretty stale. If you are a musician and/or adore Liszt, perhaps you'll have a very different opinion--I just know that Dirk Bogarde made other films with a lot more energy and entertainment value.
  • While it may take time to warm to Liszt, if at all (personally this reviewer loves his music, if more when at an older age than younger), one cannot deny how influential he was as a composer and especially as a performer (he was incredibly important in his lifetime).

    'Song Without End' is certainly much better than Ken Russell's 'Lisztomania', a very hard to rate film that was visually striking but ruined by gratuitous excess and lack of taste, and does have many pleasures but biographically it disappoints.

    It is a visually sumptuous film for starters, it's very beautifully photographed, the costumes are lavish, richly colourful and true to period and the settings, interiors and scenery are gorgeous to watch. The music is definitely the highlight of 'Song Without End', whether it is bombastic and energetic like the second 'Hungarian Rhapsody' or intimate and poignant like the third 'Liebestraume', and it's all cleverly arranged. Contrary to one reviewer the inclusion of music of other composers was quite nice though there could have been a little more of Liszt's, 'Totentanz' would have been absolutely thrilling to listen to.

    One mustn't forget the magnificent playing of Jorge Bolet, absolutely agree that it is some of the best-performed classical music in film. Liszt's music is fiendishly and notoriously difficult for a pianist ('Totentanz' for example is hard enough with piano and orchestra, in solo piano version it's a killer), but Bolet , with such energetic, hugely musical and poetic playing, makes it sound effortless. 'Song Without End' is nicely directed, and never resorts to vulgarity or excess. While its representation of Liszt is not exactly a faithful one (one doesn't find it easy to believe him as that much of a womaniser, almost too much on the slightly sleazy side, and especially as a prima donna), it is not the literal character assassination of 'Lisztomania', because it also gets some things right like he was a man of great charity, was highly noble and women were attracted to him). 'Song Without End' is also not without its powerful and affecting moments, and the music plays an enormous part in why that is, the fact that Liszt played the music of other composers as well and that he was a fan of Chopin is incorporated remarkably intelligently.

    The cast are very good. Whether one takes issue with how Liszt is portrayed, it cannot be blamed at Dirk Bogarde's door but how he's written. Bogarde does an excellent job, and is very believable and charismatic whether amorous or more intense in the context of how Liszt is written and as a performance in general. Genevieve Page and especially Capucine are breathtakingly beautiful, and Page also plays the film's most sympathetic character very poignantly. Martita Hunt is also memorable, Hunt as is evidenced by her definitive Miss Havisham in David Lean's classic 'Great Expectations' had a knack for stealing scenes regardless of the size of the role. Bogarde and Capucine and particularly Bogarde and Page also convince together, quite touching in fact at times.

    For all its many good things, 'Song Without End' is not without its flaws. There is an exception to the high standard set by the cast, and that is agreed the miscast and out of place Lou Jacobi, whose appearance and the way he spoke being somewhat anachronistic and jarring. The film does drag in places, getting bogged down by a few strands like the greatly and too obviously romanticized romances (that are also factually distorted, the film fails to mention the Countess' emotional problems before meeting Liszt and how big a part it played in their break up).

    The story here is compelling but some things that were included could have been elaborated on in more detail. While there are some things that are faithful- like his devotion for art- it is every bit as easy to spot the inaccuracies and anachronisms, like the notion of Liszt feeling inferior to Chopin with the existence of his 'Transcendental Etudes' being long before he even met Chopin . It does focus too much on the romantic side of his character and not enough on his magnetic way of performing he held that earned him the admiration of several other fellow performers (it does focus on a small portion of his life and unfortunately it is not the most compelling or the most telling of Liszt's character). Lastly, some of the script is flimsy with some soap-opera-like dialogue and areas that were potentially interesting but lack depth.

    All in all, disappointing in some areas but also a film of many pleasures. 6/10 Bethany Cox
  • This is a very beautiful film made with great meticulousness and with a serious intention to for once stick to the truth in a biopic, and the actors are all superb, especially Martita Hunt as the Grand Duchess, the most convincing one. Dirk Bogarde is excellent as Liszt but not at all as he was, more like an English gentleman than the emotionally wayward and unstable victim of his own vanity with much confusion that he was. Capucine is spellbindingly beautiful as Carolyne carrying herself with great style, and Genevi√®ve Page makes a very convincing Marie d'Agoult. But what about the others? George Sand makes a very brief appearance, Lola Montez is not allowed at all, and there were others. Instead of telling the truth the film devotes itself to the Liszt myths and embellishes them thoroughly, so that Franz Liszt would have liked it. Of course, this at least is preferred to the terrible character assassination "Lisztomania" by Ken Russell 1975 dragging it all down to vulgarity. At least, Liszt was never vulgar. On the contrary, he was very careful about excluding himself only to the highest circles of nobility, which the film conveys adequately. Still, it's not a great film, seconded by both the great Chopin films, like Liszt never came close to the genius of Chopin. The relationship with the Princess Carolyne is greatly romanticized, and Franz Liszt confessed himself that Marie d'Agoult was his only true love. Like Liszt himself, the film is gradually bogged down into his sanctimonious catholic penchant for superstition, he neglects his own life, music and love to follow the church and thus made a fool of himself instead of fulfilling his glorious career. Well, well. The film remains a most beautiful musical illustration to his life and enjoyable as such, while it leaves you deploring his bathos. The last third of his life (he became 75) was wasted getting mummified in the church with very few more compositions.
  • In a confused welter of artistic licence, this is the classical music biopic which makes 'Song to Remember'look like a masterpiece. Bogarde succeeds in diminishing the reputation of the musical colossus who spanned European music for most of the 19th Century. The absurdities of the plot, the sequoia-like quality of the acting and the prevalence of historical,musical and linguistic anachronisms combine to elevate this offering to the status of an A1 turkey.How a pianist of the stature of Bolet came to be mixed up in this fiasco can only be guessed at. The characterisation of Liszt fails to convey even a minute impression of his magnetic personality and the overwhelming effect that he had on not only his audiences, but also his pianistic rivals.Clara Schumann herself said that 'we toil over that which Liszt reads at sight!' Whilst the emphasis seems to focus on his romantic prowess,rather than his status as the greatest pianist of the century or,arguably, of all time, one feels,nevertheless, that this was an opportunity lost.
  • adamshl19 May 2013
    Given the fact that this biopic is about one of the great classical composers, it's rather perplexing that so much of the music is by others. Even with those by Liszt, there are many of his transcriptions rather than original compositions.

    I was expecting a comprehensive presentation of Liszt in a film devoted to his life and creative work. Less of interest were works by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and others. The results looks like the film makers may have lacked complete confidence that a movie featuring compositions exclusively by Liszt would be that attractive to viewers.

    In the event that's the case, it's no wonder the critical and public rating of this film is less than excellent. What's notable about it is the exquisite piano performance of Jorge Bolet on the soundtrack, the rich cinematography of James Wong Howe, and the flavorful performances by a talented cast headed by Dirk Bogarde.
  • mmunier13 March 2013
    No vote from me! I was surprised the average was not higher as what I watched was to me very pleasing. Famous pianist charms married princess He's also married so this story is a kind of impossible love story. It took me some time to identify Frantz Litz (forgive me for the "T" and "z" but i'm sure you know whom it is about. It was for me only a mid day TV movie but I have a large screen and a fairly good sound system with it. Although I'm not really an amateur of classical music, and prefer popular music and singing I find easier and sometimes more meaningful; but on the strength of the rest of the family I had and who felt classical music is the real thing I did persevere with the viewing and felt it to be very rewarding. When the music playing was on I turned on my sound system to fill the room then returned to TV sound. I read a few comments that praise the finger work done by D B. Yes it was amazing. I have not heard of Capucine and was trying to work out who she was...Well it was Capucine! I loved the "Old" lady who demonstrate great experience with life and it quirks. Some one is commenting that all is OK in the end - I'll have to check the meaning of "ok!
  • Saw this in the movies when it came out (1960) when I was 21 and was transported. Seen it again a few times since then and it holds it's power for me. Of course the magic is the music, played never better by Jorge Bolet. Wasn't that knowledgeable about Liszt prior but became an instant fan after seeing it. The settings, dress, acoustics, and color also make it an outstanding 2 hours well spent. The story is not that important since it's the music you're waiting for. All hands did well, and especially Bogarde with his spot-on finger-work. However, how anyone would expect such raving beauties to be swooning over the likes of the foppish, prancing queen portrayed here by good old Dirk is a mystery to me. Were it not for the majestic music this wouldn't be worth a second look...but oh that music.
  • Song Without End (1960) Directors: Charles Vidor and George Cukor Watched: June 13, 2018 Rating: 6/10

    Free Concerts, Bogarde acts, Knows piano. Highly dramatized Franz Liszt portrayal- Focused on libertine and narcissist, Rather than his Better traits; Hard to Care; Meant To be Romantic, Felt feigned instead. Partial biopic where religion reigns, But, "Once a cheater, always a cheater!" Bolet's grand score, Great costumes And sets Save. ---- Tetractys poems stem from the mathematician Euclid, who considered the number series 1, 2, 3, 4 to have a mystical significance because of its sum of 10. He named it a Tetractys. Thus, these poems follow a 1, 2, 3, 4, 10 syllable format, with additional verses written in an inverted syllable count. #Tetractys #QuadrupleTetractys #PoemReview #GoldenGlobesBestPicture #Musical