Magic Fire

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Magic Fire
Magic Fire 1955.jpg
Film poster
Directed by William Dieterle
Produced by William Dieterle
Written by Bertita Harding (novel)
Screenplay by Bertita Harding, Ewald André Dupont, David T. Chantler
Starring Alan Badel
Yvonne De Carlo
Rita Gam
Valentina Cortese
Cinematography Ernest Haller
Distributed by Republic Pictures
Release date
Country United States
Language English
Film still of cast members (from left) Valentina Cortese, Carlos Thompson, Yvonne De Carlo, Alan Badel, and Rita Gam.

Magic Fire is a 1955 biographical film about the life of composer Richard Wagner, released by Republic Pictures.


Directed by William Dieterle, the film made extensive use of Wagner's music, which was arranged by Erich Wolfgang Korngold. Dieterle worked with Korngold on several Warner Bros. films, including A Midsummer Night's Dream and Juarez. It was one of the final films Republic made in the two-strip color process known as Trucolor.[1]

Although many details about Wagner's life were accurately portrayed, the film often distorted some facts, apparently for dramatic purposes. One high point was the accurate depiction of the riot at the Paris Opera House for the premiere of the revised version of Tannhäuser. The film depicted King Ludwig II's patronage of Wagner, without going into much detail about the king's controversial personality.

The film used a very large cast, opulent sets, and lavish costumes. Since Republic was known primarily for westerns and adventure serials, Magic Fire was one of the rare "prestige" films to be produced by studio chief Herbert Yates. Nevertheless, critical response was mixed and box office receipts in the U.S. were disappointing.[2]



The film was shot in Italy and Germany over 12 weeks.[3][4]


  • Directed by William Dieterle
  • Writing credits: David T. Chantler, screenplay; Ewald André Dupont, screenplay (as E. A. Dupont);
  • Bertita Harding, screenplay; based on the novel Magic Fire: The Story of Wagner's Life and Music (1954)
  • Produced by William Dieterle
  • Original Music by Erich Wolfgang Korngold
  • Cinematography by Ernest Haller
  • Art Direction by Robert Herlth
  • Costume Design by Ursula Maes
  • Virgil Hart .... assistant director
  • Frank T. Dyke .... sound
  • Walter Rühland .... sound (as Walter Ruehland)
  • Léo L. Fuchs .... still photographer (uncredited)
  • Stanley E. Johnson .... supervising editor (as Stanley Johnson)
  • Tatjana Gsovsky .... choreographer
  • Rudolf Hartmann .... opera stager (as Professor Rudolf Hartmann)
  • Erich Wolfgang Korngold .... music supervisor

Release dates[edit]

It was released in the United Kingdom on July 15, 1955, and in the United States on March 29, 1956. Other European releases were in Denmark on November 21, 1956, and in Finland on October 18, 1957.


  1. ^ Republic Pictures documentary
  2. ^ Eyewitness account by Robert E. Nylund
  3. ^ MOVIELAND BRIEFS: Director Finishing Lavish Wagner Film Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 27 Nov 1954: 13.
  4. ^ Yvonne De Carlo Will Narrate Foreign Film; Gobel Manager Irked Ames, Walter. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 30 Dec 1954: 22.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]