Movie Mirrors Index

The Great Caruso

(1951 c 109')

En: 6 Ed: 5

The famous opera tenor quickly attains success and fame, but he is rejected by the fathers of the two women he loves.

         Enrico Caruso is born on February 25, 1873 in Naples. The boy Enrico has to sing in a procession while his mother is dying.

         Enrico Caruso (Mario Lanza) sings for coins and wants to marry Musetta Barretto, but her father insists that he take a job. Caruso takes time off from hauling flour to sing for two opera singers and is fired. He joins their company and soon has leading roles. Caruso comes home with money, but he learns that Musetta is married.

         Maria Selka (Jarmila Novotna) is angry that Caruso is late arriving at Covent Garden. He sings “La Donne a Mobile.” Caruso is glad to see Alfredo Brazzi (Ludwig Donath) and asks him to be his manager.

         Caruso goes to New York and finds that soprano Louise Heggar (Dorothy Kirsten) is kind. They each sing, but he mistakenly calls Park Benjamin (Carl Benton Reid) her father. Caruso calls on Louise to apologize and meets Dorothy Benjamin (Ann Blyth), a college student. She tells him that Park Benjamin is her father.

         Caruso and Louise perform in Aida. Park Benjamin does not like Caruso, who gets bad reviews. Caruso tells Benjamin that he will not sing in America. Dorothy tells Caruso he is good and encourages him to stay. Jean de Reszke (Alan Napier) lets Caruso go on for him. Caruso plays to the gallery in La Boheme, and Reszke leads the applause. Outside Caruso thanks Dorothy, and he sings for people in the street.

         Caruso goes on tour to Paris, Berlin, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro, and New York. As Santa Claus he gives presents to children. He takes Dorothy to an Italian restaurant and asks her to marry him. She tells her father, who demands she be his hostess. Caruso raises $500,000 for the Liberty Fund by singing one song. He has to sing midnight mass. Dorothy tells her father that she loves Caruso, but he says it is not fitting. Caruso finds Dorothy waiting for him, and their wedding is publicized.

         Caruso consoles Dorothy after her father rejected them. She takes Caruso to the Italian restaurant for a surprise birthday party. They dance, and she sings to him “The Loveliest Night of the Year.” Caruso performs and learns he has a daughter. The word is passed to the orchestra and the audience. Dorothy likes the name Susan, but Caruso chooses other names.

         Caruso makes a record. He has a cough after touring Canada. Dorothy tells Louise that Caruso is using ether. Alfredo says that Caruso won’t go to a doctor. Between acts Caruso coughs, reassures Dorothy, and prays. On stage he coughs and at the curtain he collapses. In the final scene a wreath is laid upon his tomb.

         This biopic is filled with singing, but it seems to shorten the life of Caruso who lived to be 48. Ironically, the role suits very well Mario Lanza, who died at 38 after suffering from alcoholism and binge eating.

Copyright © 2007 by Sanderson Beck

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