Thursday, March 20, 2014

1934 - One Night of Love

So, parenthood. Who would have thought it would be so exhausting? But after you've spent an infuriating hour trying to get the little man to sleep, he flashes a smile and it all seems worth it. Of course, the smile is undoubtedly not actually a smile, and probably just an involuntary facial reaction to a satisfying bowel movement, but hey. Evolution sure knew what it was doing making babies cute.

Anyway, the Oscars are well and truly over now, but it would be remiss of me not to mention them briefly. I predicted 20 correct winners, my greatest result ever. Which is not actually that impressive considering this year's awards ceremony provided no real surprises. Just about every favourite won.

A couple of quick (Down Under-themed) statistics: With her Best Actress win for Blue Jasmine, Cate Blanchett became the first Australian to win a second acting award after her Supporting Actress victory in 2004's The Aviator. And designer Catherine Martin is now the most decorated Australian after winning both Production Design and Costume Design for The Great Gatsby. With her dual wins in the same categories for Moulin Rouge! in 2001, that brings her total Oscar count to four.

And now, we finally make our way back to 1934 to look at another Best Picture nominee...

One Night of Love
Victor Schertzinger
S.K. Lauren, James Gow, Edmund North
(based on the play "Don't Fall in Love" by Dorothy Speare and Charles Beahan)
Grace Moore, Tullio Carminati, Lyle Talbot, Mona Barrie, Jessie Ralph, Luis Alberni
Academy Awards:
6 nominations
2 wins, plus a Technical Achievement Award

After failing to win an opera contest in which she could have won the tutelage of a famed vocal coach, Mary Barrett (Moore) decides to move to Milan to pursue her career on her own. As fate would have it, that very same vocal coach, Guilio Monteverdi (Carminati), discovers her singing in a bar and takes her on anyway. His only condition: that she not fall in love with him. Over the years, Monteverdi sculpts her into the perfect soprano specimen, providing Mary with much fame and renown, but perhaps at the price of her independence. Oh, and of course, she falls in love with him.

One Night of Love is a relatively run-of-the-mill romance. There are occasional witty moments, such as when Mary tells her parents she's moving to Italy, to which her mother disapprovingly replies, "Why, that place is full of Italians." But, on the whole, the story and script are rather cliched and formulaic. Boy meets girl, boy hates girl, boy falls in love with girl, boy almost screws it all up, boy gets girl in the end. Granted, it's possible to make that formula fascinating, but this picture sticks to the storytelling standards.

I suppose, then, the film's unique point is its somewhat gratuitous opera singing. It's only 83 minutes long, but a significant portion of that is taken up with opera performances. Still, as the nice man from TCM mentioned in his introduction to this film, Grace Moore (pictured) was an international radio and stage star at the time, so seeing and hearing her sing classic opera tunes is exactly why people went to see this movie.

And while her acting is merely adequate, Moore's voice is certainly something to behold. Her leading man, Tullio Carminati, also fails to impress with an average performance. His sidekick, Luis Alberni, steals the scenes in which he appears, clearly enjoying a thoroughly silly character. And Jane Darwell - appearing in her second Best Picture nominee in 1934, after The White Parade - also delights in a small uncredited role as Mary's mother.

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