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Humoresque (1947)

By Luisa F. Ribeiro | Posted

Note to Music of the Heart maker Wes Craven: If you want to know how to make a real movie about the power of classical music, turn back to 1947 and the vivid Humoresque, starring Joan Crawford (still riding the triumphant high of her Oscar win for Mildred Pierce two years earlier) and John Garfield. Crawford plays the volatile Helen Wright, a bored, short-sighted, wealthy married woman with drinking and man problems. A fierce patron of the arts, Helen discovers Paul Boray (Garfield), a brash young violin virtuoso. (The great pianist/actor Oscar Levant, as Paul's musical sidekick, supplies his usual pointed banter.) Fireworks erupt between patroness Helen and truculent Paul, lighting up passion and leading to tragedy as art and love clash. A marvelous soundtrack—featuring the titular Dvorak piece and selections from Bizet, Wagner, Mendolssohn, Tchaikovsky, Frank, Lalo, and Grieg, among others and played by violinist Isaac Stern—breathtakingly displays the raw power and emotion classical music offers the soul.

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