Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Ericson, Taylor and Gassman
RHAPSODY (1954). Director: Charles Vidor.

"You have an almost neurotic need to be needed. And that man needs no one."

Hollywood always liked to hedge its bets when it came to movies with a classical music milieu, so they made sure in such pictures to include beautiful women, handsome men, and a dollop of sex -- or at least lots of romance. In Rhapsody the beautiful woman is Elizabeth Taylor, who never looked more luscious except perhaps in Elephant Walk, and she has two handsome co-stars, Vittorio Gassman and John Ericson. If that weren't enough, the movie is drenched in the music of Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, and others. Louise Durant (Taylor) is in love with an up and coming violinist, Paul Bronte (Gassman) and she follows him to Zurich where he needs to finish his studies. Louise is sensitive but a bit too superficial to be able to develop an interest in classical music, so she has no real joy in her lover's eventual success. Meanwhile, James Guest (Ericson) an upstairs neighbor studying piano at the same conservatory, is falling for Louise and is there for her when things temporarily fall apart between her and Paul. A love triangle develops, with Louise torn between the man she thinks she loves and the other man who desperately needs her ... La Liz gives one of her best performances in Rhapsody, a spoiled but loving minx who needs the affection withheld by her father (an excellent Louis Calhern) and will do just about anything to get it from the man she loves. Gassman is wonderful as an artistic devil-may-care, for whom Louise will always take second place, and Ericson, who later appeared on TV's Honey West, has probably the best role of his career and runs with it. Other notable cast members include Michael Chekhov as Professor Cahill, Celia Lovsky as a landlady, and Stuart Whitman as another student, among others.

Verdict: Feed your inner romantic! ***.

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