Original movie poster
|Directed by||Anthony Mann|
|Produced by||Henry Blanke|
|Written by||Ivan Goff
|Music by||Original Music:
Non Original Music:
|Cinematography||J. Peverell Marley|
|Editing by||William H. Ziegler|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
|Release dates||March 23, 1956|
|Running time||121 min.|
|Box office||$1,585,000 (US)|
Serenade, a 1956 Warner Bros. release, was tenor Mario Lanza's fifth film, and his first on-screen appearance in four years. Directed by Anthony Mann and based on the 1937 novel of the same name by James M. Cain, the film also stars Joan Fontaine, Sara Montiel (billed as Sarita Montiel), and Vincent Price.
Serenade tells the story of a poor vineyard worker who becomes an operatic tenor, and is involved with two women — one a high society hostess, the other a Mexican bullfighter's daughter. Highly melodramatic in nature, the film features a large amount of operatic music, all of it sung by Lanza. Of note are the Act III Monologue from Verdi's Otello and an extract from the duet "Dio Ti Giocondi" from the same opera featuring Metropolitan Opera soprano Licia Albanese. Reviewing the film in The New York Times, A.H. Weiler wrote that, "Mr. Lanza, who was never in better voice, makes this a full and sometimes impressive musical entertainment."
The movie differs greatly from the James M. Cain source novel. In the book, Juana (Montiel) is a prostitute and she and Damon (Lanza) set out to open a brothel together. She comes into conflict with the local police and the two flee to Los Angeles and then move to New York, where Damon struggles to overcome his bisexuality. Obviously, none of this material could be made into a popular movie in the US in 1956, so the story becomes merely that of an opera singer torn between an overbearing, worldly patron of the arts (Fontaine) and a Mexican bullfighter's daughter. The tenor has a breakdown because of his unrequited love for the society woman, but finds love (and a happy ending) with the Mexican girl.
- Mario Lanza as Damon Vincenti
- Joan Fontaine as Kendall Hale
- Sara Montiel as Juana Montes (as Sarita Montiel)
- Vincent Price as Charles Winthrop
- Joseph Calleia as Maestro Marcatello
- Harry Bellaver as Tonio
- Vince Edwards as Marco Roselli
- Silvio Minciotti as Lardelli
- Frank Puglia as Manuel Montes
- Edward Platt as Everett Carter
- Licia Albanese as Desdemona in 'Otello'
- Jean Fenn as Soprano in San Francisco
The film made a purported loss of $695,000.
- 'The Top Box-Office Hits of 1956', Variety Weekly, January 2, 1957
Cesari, Armando. Mario Lanza: An American Tragedy. (Fort Worth: Baskerville 2004)
- Serenade at the Internet Movie Database
- Serenade at allmovie
- Serenade at the TCM Movie Database
- "Serenade - An Underrated Treasure", by Derek McGovern
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