Let me just say right up front: I don’t like opera. But this movie about an opera singer begins with the letter I, and won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, so I watched it in the interests of my commitment to the Blogging A to Z Challenge! I saw it on Amazon streaming (it wasn’t very easy to find).
Interrupted Melody is a film from 1955 based on the true story of Marjorie Lawrence, a gifted opera star. It is dense in the beginning with numerous arias of various productions she sang in. Despite my having to sit through the beautiful soprano vocal expertise of Eileen Farrell, who was dubbed in later, the story was fascinating and heartwarming.
Marjorie Lawrence (Eleanor Parker) grew up in a small town in Australia. Her vocal gifts were noticed at a young age and she was able to obtain a scholarship to Paris. Her career is no less than a catapult to fame and notoriety. Her brother Cyril (Roger Moore) was her manager. Marjorie is a strong willed woman, shown in various scenes where she defies her director on stage during a performance, much to the delight of the audience and her critics.
She meets Dr. Tom King (Glenn Ford) and they immediately fall in love. As with complicated relationships where both individuals want careers, it’s a struggle to finally commit to each other.
The unfortunate illness of Marjorie hits suddenly and she is diagnosed with polio. The rest of the film is focused on Dr. King and Marjorie dealing with her illness, which was devastating to a young woman used to being center stage and singing joyfully every day of her life.
It’s about the time of World War II, which ends up figuring into the story. What I liked about the film was the wonderful screenwriting and dialogue, especially between Marjorie and Tom. They have an easy repartee, and their romance is made believable, although I’m sure it was spiffed up for a Hollywood movie.
The other thing about the story that is interesting is how a couple deals with illness and the entire disruption of their lives. Do they just give up, stay down, or do they find a way to cope with the drastic changes?
It was an inspiring story, and if you like opera, you will definitely love this film. Perhaps you’ve even heard of Marjorie Lawrence. I did recognize some of the operatic stories that were staged briefly to show how Marjorie commanded the stage (Carmen, Madame Butterfly, Samson and Delilah, and a couple works of Wagner, among others).
It is rare that the Academy recognizes a musical for best screenplay, much less best picture. This is the only one I’m aware of that featured an opera star. Eleanor Parker sung the arias in her performance, and later Eileen Farrell’s voice was dubbed in. It sounds and looks impressive. I actually thought Eleanor Parker was the one singing until I read about the dubbing. Well done.