If you like Mario Lanza, you'll love this film because he does 15 tunes and occupies about half the screen time. The James M. Cain story that inspired the film concerns a homosexual relationship between a singer and his benefactor, but SERENADE's screenplay opts for a much less
controversial romance between Damon Vincenti (Lanza), who toils in a California vineyard, and wealthy Kendall Hale (Joan Fontaine), who hears him singing and makes him an opera star. Ever the manipulative dilettante, Kendall has just finished toying with a boxer and, growing bored with Damon, who
is crazy about her, she deserts him for a sculptor. His heart broken, Damon blows his big chance for success at the Metropolitan Opera; journeys to Mexico, where he contracts the sort of disease that only screenwriters can concoct; and is nursed back to health by Juana (Sarita Montiel), the
beautiful daughter of a former bullfighter, paving the way for a love triangle when Kendall reenters the picture. Along the way, Lanza, who would make only two more films before his early death at 38, gets the chance to exercise his pipes onscreen for the first time in three years. He does two pop
songs by Sammy Cahn and Nicholas Brodszky, "Serenade" and "My Destiny," then tackles the classics, which include: "Torna A Sorrento" (Ernesto de Curtis, Claude Aveling), "Nessun Dorma," (from "Turandot," Giacomo Puccini), "Ave Maria," (Franz Schubert), "Italian Tenor Aria," (from "Der
Rosenkavalier," Richard Strauss), "Lamento di Federico" (from "L'Arlesiana," by Francesco Cilea), "Amor Ti Vieta" (from "Fedora," Umberto Giordano), "Il Mio Tesoro" (from "Don Giovanni," Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart), "La Danza" (Gioacchino Antonio Rossini), "Di Quella Pira" (from "Il Trovatore,"
Giuseppe Verdi), "O Paradis," "Sorti De L'Onde" (from "L'Africaine," Giacomo Meyerbeer), "O Soave Fanciulla" (from "La Boheme," Puccini, sung with Jean Fenn), and "Dio Ti Giocondi" (from "Otello," Verdi, sung with Licia Albanese). Perhaps the film's finest performance, however, is delivered by
Vincent Price, who is more than suitably unctuous as a concert booker.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: If you like Mario Lanza, you'll love this film because he does 15 tunes and occupies about half the screen time. The James M. Cain story that inspired the film concerns a homosexual relationship between a singer and his benefactor, but SERENADE's screenpla… (more)