A Song to Remember


Biography / Drama

IMDb Rating 6.8


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113 min
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113 min
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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by blanche-2 8/10

&quot;A Song to Remember&quot; is supposed to be the life of Chopin but in fact,very little in it is historically accurate. It&#39;s still a beautiful,emotional, and sumptuous movie, filled with the heavenly music ofChopin played by Jose Iturbi.<br><br>&quot;A Song to Remember&quot; helped to popularize Chopin&#39;s romantic, passionatemusic and launched Cornel Wilde&#39;s star into the heavens. Though he&#39;snever done much for me personally, he cuts a dashing figure as Chopin.The Chopin of Columbia Pictures is a strong patriot of Poland who,under the influence of the controlling George Sand, becomes aself-involved artist. Sand believed (here anyway) that the artistneeded to serve himself alone and not others. Thus, she cut him offfrom his teacher and friend, Professor Elsnore, who wants Chopin tofinish his magnificent Polonaise, a freedom cry for his beloved Poland,which is being suppressed by the Russians. Under Sand&#39;s control, Chopinturns out little ditties instead.<br><br>There really was a Professor Elsnore, but he did not teach Chopinpiano, rather, music theory and composition. The role is playedeffectively by Paul Muni, who works to protect the change in Chopin&#39;spersonality and apathy toward politics to his family and friends. MerleOberon is stunning as a cold George Sand. Nina Foch plays Chopin&#39;sPolish girlfriend Constantia (and in reality, Constantia did exist).<br><br>Well, what is true and what isn&#39;t? Chopin was a child prodigy, he didmeet George Sand at a party which was also attended by Franz Liszt, thebad weather in Mallorca nearly killed him, and in fact, after thattime, he was never fully healthy again. He broke with George Sand twoyears before he died. She is the one who tried to get back together.His burial isn&#39;t covered in the film, but Chopin is buried in Paris. Athis request, his heart was removed and buried in Poland.<br><br>One of the scenes in &quot;A Song to Remember&quot; has a place in history,though not perhaps in Chopin&#39;s, but that of another famous pianist.During a party, it is announced that Franz Liszt will play. The room isplunged into darkness. As the audience listens, George Sand walks overto the piano and places a candleabra on top of it to reveal that it isnot Liszt at all, but Chopin. It is said that because of that scene,Liberace never played piano without his own famous candelabra.

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Reviewed by theowinthrop 7/10

There is a trick about movies concerning great or even good composers.Few of them have lives that (outside of musicologists or curiouspeople) are worth talking about. Also, as their music is the reason fortheir greatness, the music is going to dominate the film - any activityon screen is going to be less interesting (unless the composer&#39;s lifeis interesting) than what they created for their audiences andposterity.<br><br>Which composers have popped up on screen? Beethoven in several films(best, possibly, by Gary Oldman in 1994&#39;s IMMORTAL BELOVED). Chopin inthe film about to be discussed here. His pal, Franz Liszt (DirkBogarde) in SONG WITHOUT END. Johann Brahms and Robert Schuman (RobertWalker Sr. and Paul Henried) in SONG OF LOVE. Wagner in the televisionseries of that name (by Richard Burton), and Verdi in the televisionseries of that name (by Ronald Pickup). Douglas Montgomery (MELODYLANE) and Don Ameche (SWANEE RIVER) both essayed Stephen Foster.Clifton Webb was John Philip Sousa in STARS AND STRIPES FOREVER. WalterConnelly was the title composer in THE GREAT VICTOR HERBERT. JimmyCagney (and Joel Grey) were George M. Cohan (in YANKEE DOODLE DANDY andGEORGE M.). Robert Alda was George Gershwin in RHAPSODY IN BLUE. TomDrake and Mickey Rooney were Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart in WORDSAND MUSIC. Robert Morley and Maurice Evans were the title characters inTHE STORY OF GILBERT AND SULLIVAN. Richard Chamberlain was PyotrIlytsch Tschaikowski in THE MUSIC LOVERS. Fernand Gravet was JohannStrauss Jr. in THE GREAT WALTZ.<br><br>But few of them were really exciting people. Webb&#39;s performance asSousa was good, but the biographical material of the story was passablyinteresting (but no more - the music carried the film). Chamberlain&#39;sfilm was more interesting because of Tschaikowski&#39;s homosexuality.Cagney&#39;s breeziness and the theater background of the story of Cohanmade that film a permanently popular one. Foster&#39;s tragic failure tosucceed as our first professional composer (and his alcoholism) didgive some grip to his biography, but sappy construction and writinghurt the Ameche film (especially that profoundly stupid conclusion).<br><br>Chopin was &quot;blessed&quot; in several ways biographically. He was a patriot,and part of the film is devoted to his support for the Poles fightingfor their freedom from Russia. He did have a long time affair withGeorge Sands, France&#39;s leading female novelist in the 19th Century. Andhe struggled with increasing ill health due to his tuberculosis. Heonly lived forty years, and oddly enough his birth and death datesalmost correspond to his American contemporary Edgar Allan Poe, who wasalso plagued by ill health through much of his life.<br><br>Cornell Wilde had been playing supporting parts up to this film, suchas the cowardly inside-man in the heist in HIGH SIERRA. It was herethat he finally came into his own as an actor, even getting nominatedfor an Academy Award for his performance. Merle Oberon had an unusualrole. Normally she was a supportive lover (her Cathy is ultimatelydeeply in love with Heathcliff, but proud and snobbish when she meetsEdgar Linton in WUTHERING HEIGHTS - that was an exception for her).Here she is committed to her own literary success, and she does littleto understand the musical success at the core of the man who adoresher. There is a hint of nymphomania in her - a seeming hard incapacityto love that drives men wild (not only Chopin, but his predecessor inher bed Alfred de Musset the poet (George Macready)). In the end she isthe villain in the film, breaking the spirit of her Polish lover, anddooming him to early death.<br><br>How true is this? Not totally. While two creative spirits like Chopinand Sand could clash they both were deeply attached to each other. In atelevision series on the career of Sand, starring Rosemary Harris, itturned out that a message from Chopin on his death bed was withheldfrom Sand by her jealous daughter - a fact she did not learn until manydecades later.<br><br>Paul Muni gave a weak, over the top performance as Chopin&#39;s mentorJoseph Elsner in the film. He had done older men for years, and Elsnerwas a slightly comical one (look at his scene with Howard Freeman as amusic publisher). But it is overdone, and one of the weaknesses of themovie. Still it is not too serious a weakness. On the whole it is agood film, for the two leads and some of the supporting cast. But it isnot true history.

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Reviewed by FlickJunkie-2 7/10

I love the music of Chopin. That is why I was eager to see this 1945classic about his life. After seeing it, I enjoyed the film so much that itspurred me to seek out some biographical information on his life. Afterhaving done so, I realized that the story in the film bore very littleresemblance to the truth and I was greatly disappointed. It was justanother example of extremely entertaining Hollywood drivel.<br><br>As a work of fiction, the film was nicely done. The story was enchantingand it painted Chopin as a very noble patriot, playing himself to death inconcerts to earn money to support the Polish revolution, though I found nosupport for that in anything I read. Cornel Wilde was nominated for anOscar for his performance, which was excellent indeed, but he wasincongruously cast. Wilde is handsome and athletic looking and Chopin wasplain and frail. Paul Muni, though charming in the role of ProfessorElsner, was much too eccentric and ebulliently peculiar to be verybelievable. The best performance by far was given by Merle Oberon as thecold and iron willed George Sand, whose love affair with Chopin turned intoa tyrannical attempt to shelter him from the world.<br><br>The best part of this film was the music of Chopin himself, playedbrilliantly by Jose Iturbi. The music alone was worth enduring theHollywood prevarication. I also enjoyed the 19th Centurycostumes.<br><br>I rated this film a 7/10. If it were a fictional account of some person whonever existed, I probably would have rated it a 9/10, because it was veryenjoyable. However, such liberties were taken with the truth that I had todeduct a couple of points in protest. If you are a classic film buff or aclassical music lover, it is definitely worth seeing. <br><br>

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