Serenade (1956 film)

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Serenade
Serenade1.jpg
Original movie poster
Directed by Anthony Mann
Produced by Henry Blanke
Written by Ivan Goff
Ben Roberts
John Twist
Starring Mario Lanza
Joan Fontaine
Sara Montiel
Vincent Price
Joseph Calleia
Vince Edwards
Harry Bellaver
Music by Nicholas Brodszky
Cinematography J. Peverell Marley
Edited by William H. Ziegler
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date
  • March 23, 1956 (1956-03-23)
Running time
121 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $1,585,000 (US)[1]

Serenade is a 1956 film directed by Anthony Mann and starring tenor Mario Lanza, Joan Fontaine, Sara Montiel (billed as Sarita Montiel), and Vincent Price. Based on the 1937 novel Serenade by James M. Cain, the film was a Warner Bros. release, Lanza's fifth film, and his first on-screen appearance in four years.

Plot[edit]

Serenade tells the story of poor vineyard worker Damon Vincenti (Mario Lanza), who becomes an operatic tenor, and is involved with two women — one a high society hostess, Kendall Hale (Joan Fontaine), the other a Mexican bullfighter's daughter, Juana Montes (Sara Montiel). 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. Highly melodramatic, the film features a great deal 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.

Cast[edit]

Differences with the source novel[edit]

The movie differs greatly from the James M. Cain source novel. In the book, the male protagonist is John Howard Spring, a professional opera singer who has lost his voice and fled the United States to Mexico in a crisis of confidence after being sexually wooed (not unsuccessfully, though details are vague) by a male socialite and impresario. Juana Montes is a Mexican prostitute who sees Spring as gay and therefore a trouble-free partner to open a brothel with. But after having sex in a deserted church with Juana, Spring recovers his voice and his preferred sexual identity. The two lovers come into conflict with the local police and flee to Los Angeles, where Spring reestablishes his singing career, more successful than ever. But once they move to New York, the singer must struggle against the renewed blandishments of the gay impresario, whom Juana eventually murders with a torero's sword. As none of this material could be considered suitable for an American movie in 1956, the story's male impresario becomes female instead and the Mexican prostitute becomes a Mexican bullfighter's daughter.

Production[edit]

Film rights to the novel were bought in 1946 by the production company of Michael Curtiz.[2]

Reception[edit]

Reviewing the film in The New York Times, A.H. Weiler wrote that Lanza, "who was never in better voice, makes this a full and sometimes impressive musical entertainment."[3]

The film made a purported loss of $695,000.

See also[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Cesari, Armando. Mario Lanza: An American Tragedy. (Fort Worth: Baskerville 2004)

References[edit]

  1. ^ 'The Top Box-Office Hits of 1956', Variety Weekly, January 2, 1957
  2. ^ 2 FILMS ASSIGNED T0 MICHAEL CURTIZ: Head of New Production Unit for Warners Adds 'Serenade' and 'Winter Kill' to Schedule Of Local Origin Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 28 Oct 1946: 32.
  3. ^ Weiler, A.H. (March 23, 1956). "Movie Review - Screen: Lanza Is Back; Appears in 'Serenade' at the Music Hall". The New York Times. 

External links[edit]