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Music in My Heart

Music in My Heart
Columbia TriStar
1940 / B&W / 1:37 flat full frame / 70 min. / Street Date September 7, 2004 / 24.96
Starring Tony Martin, Rita Hayworth, Edith Fellows, Alan Mowbray, Eric Blore, George Tobias, Andre Kostelanetz
Cinematography John Stumar
Art Direction Lionel Banks
Film Editor Otto Meyer
Written by James Edward Grant from his story Passport to Happiness
Produced by Irving Starr
Directed by Joseph Santley

Reviewed by Glenn Erickson

An excellent of example of a cheap Columbia picture made as a vehicle for promising talent, Music in My Heart puts together the team of Tony Martin and Rita Hayworth. Rita's on her way up, showcased not to dance but to as a romantic foil. Martin is sort of on his way sideways. He's the star but this was one of the few leads he received while Hollywood was deciding if he could carry a film on his own. Apparently they gave him a thumbs down, but he's not terrible ... it's just that the production forces him to sing MGM-style operetta tunes, you know, 'high- kulcher' stuff.


Operetta understudy Robert Gregory (Tony Martin) is being deported due to an IRS technicality when his cab collides with a cab carrying neighborhood girl Patricia O'Malley (Rita Hayworth). They both miss their ship. Now, the immigration authorities are going to be chasing him, and in her case, the jilted millionaire Charles Gardner III (Alan Mowbray) will probably drop her from his marriage plans. Pat hides Robert in her little Irish neighborhood, which is populated mostly by Italians and Russians like Sascha (George Tobias) and his blueblood exiles. Gardner sics his sneaky butler Griggs (Eric Blore) on get Pat back to the altar, while Robert sings for his supper and hides out from the feds.

As can easily be told, Music in My Heart is one of those all-purpose generic screenplays somebody yanked out of a drawer, the kind that might have already have been made once or twice but nobody remembered. The film really is dressed up to appeal to Louis B. Mayer; it has Andre Kostelanitz as a radio performer (common casting for the time) and presents 'swing' versions of standards and classical music for hep appeal, such as it is. Martin and Hayworth meet cute after climbing out of overturned taxis and everything else is agreeable nonsense, none of it particularly inspired. Tony sings to an organ grinder's monkey. Rita's little sister Mary (Edith Fellows) connives to get them into the romantic mood. The nasty butler Griggs is a sneak but his snooty boss (Mowbray, the Shakespearean troubador from My Darling Clementine) turns out to be a good egg.

As I said before, Martin isn't half bad, but there's not all that much to distinguish him. The part plays like something invented for a tenor tired of singing opposite Jeanette MacDonald. He's forced to wear a Ruritanian costume for several reels while his own clothes are shipped overseas without him. Perhaps it's not Martin's fault, but Music in My Heart isn't the starmaking vehicle he was hoping for.

Rita seems to be in the bush league tryouts too, perhaps purposely laying off the fancy dance steps that relegated her to exotic garnish status in pictures like Dante's Inferno. This is before her 40s makeover, with the old hairline and makeup structure detailed in the good Playboy career biography Rita. Hayworth already flashes her smile with assurance, and has all that's needed to stop the heart of any hetero male. It is true, however, that her dancing is often the highlight of her films and we miss it here. All we get are a few steps around the kitchen table, just some non-choreographed vamping (if that's the right term).

Support is as standard as standard gets, and the five or six songs are pretty forgettable. Music in My Heart is for Hayworth addicts with a yen to grab every piece of celluloid available on the actress.

Columbia TriStar's DVD of Music in My Heart looks and sounds great, which must point up the difference between the studio's overprinted Capra films and items like this one that haven't been off the shelf in 50 years. The so-so photography looks fine, and Andre Kostelanetz' orchestra is well-recorded.

Trailers? Bios? Time of day? This is Columbia, pilgrim. But it's a good plainwrap disc.

On a scale of Excellent, Good, Fair, and Poor, Music in My Heart rates:
Movie: Good -
Video: Excellent
Sound: Excellent
Supplements: none
Packaging: Keep case
Reviewed: September 15, 2004

DVD Savant Text © Copyright 2007 Glenn Erickson

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