Waltz Time (1945)

by | Dec 22, 2006 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

Waltz Time (1945)

Studio: Four Continents
Starring: Peter Graves, Carl Raye, Patricia Medina. Harry Welchman, Richard Tauber
Director: Paul L. Stern
Studio: Bel Canto DVD BCS-DO413
Video: Black & white 4:3 full frame
Audio: PCM mono 
Length: 97 minutes
Rating: **

This innocuous bit of cinematic fluff touts Richard Tauber in the cast, but he appears in only two musical numbers, as a peasant singing “Break of Day,” which he reprises in the cathedral at the royal wedding at film’s end. This Viennese variant on Cosi fan tutte plays off a ban on the waltz in Vienna (only court dances, menuet and gavotte were permissible). Which we know will come crashing down. A handsome Captain of the Guard Franz van Hopfer, is in love with the young Empress (Carol Raye). A notorious womanizer, his romantic prowess will doubtless serve the country well once he is a husband and royal consort. Patricia Medina plays Cenci Prohaska, daughter of a court minister, and she has the bad habit of frequenting The Golden Lantern, where a gypsy band plays waltz music for the degenerate young crowd. Cenci is in love with Lieutenant Stefan, and since she wears a mask, she can flirt with the lusty Hopfer without consequences. Later, the Empress will wear the mask and so forth. The gypsy singer is Hans May, whose music and arrangements dominate the film–he’s a Lehar would-be without melodic gift.

Peter Graves plays Hopfer–not our dear boy from Stalag 17–but a David Niven clone with a stiff spine. The opening shot of the village square with the gypsy dancing paean to Vienna is sheer Hollywood idyll, saccharine and mawkish–it is done better in films like House of Frankenstein, where at least the villagers get angry. There are a few good lines, like the suggestion that “a loveless marriage can be arranged,” and the wonderful double entendre, deliberate or no, when Stefan, selected by the jealous Empress as her husband, declares defensively, “I shall do my best, Your Majesty, to satisfy your demands.” How did that line get past the Hayes Office? Medina says of marriage, “I want romance, freedom, adventure.” Does that sound like anyone’s marriage of late? The final bit of courtly advice is that “In love, it’s never too late.”

Carol Raye is new to me, a pretty girl, maybe with a touch of Francis Dee. If you look closely, you will spy a young Kay Kendall in the cast. As for the attempt to create a Vienne operetta without the benefit of Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald, I would not eat anything sugary while watching it, since diabetes is a legitimate danger. Tauber’s voice is lovely, but you pay for the privilege.

— Gary Lemco

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