A Song To Remember – Professor Joseph Elsner guides his protégé Frydryk Chopin through his formative years to early adulthood in Poland. At a recital in a duke’s home Chopin insults the new Russian-installed governor, and must flee the country. The professor takes him to Paris, where he eventually comes under the wing and influence of novelist George Sand and rises to prominence in the music world, to the exclusion of his old friends and patriotic feelings towards Poland.
Entertaining, if inaccurate, biography is typical of ’40s musical bios…
A Song to Remember It must have taken courage to cast Cornel Wilde as the frail composer and Merle Oberon as George Sand, but in the Hollywood of 1940s all of the studios were busy churning out inaccurate biographies of musical greats. (Biggest miscasting was Cary Grant as Cole Porter in “Night and Day”).
So, it was no surprise when Columbia cast Cornel Wilde, handsome, debonair and athletic, as the composer and proceeded to create a script that had little to do with Chopin’s actual life. But they can be forgiven. Film buffs who love serious music will have no qualms with the superb piano work by Jose Iturbi. Wilde does an excellent job of fingering as though he is doing the actual playing–perhaps the reason he won an Oscar nomination.
Handsomely photographed in fine technicolor, it’s certainly pleasing to look at and easy to listen to. The only major flaw is Paul Muni, whose acting style here is so grotesquely hammy it belongs to the silent period of film acting. He’s given too much footage.
Movie buffs will certainly enjoy this one for the pleasure of seeing Cornel Wilde in his star-making role and Merle Oberon at the peak of her beauty. If it’s accuracy you insist on, stay away. It takes all the artistic liberties imaginable–and then some!