Friday, 3 April 2020

Richard Tauber stars with Jimmy Durante - Forbidden Music !

Not an April Fool !  Richard Tauber statrs with Jimmy Durante in Land without Music aka Forbidden Music.  In a tiny principality somewhere in Mittel-Europa, the peasants make music all te time. The cattle in the field plough their furroughs unatteneded, whike the peasants make music - a farmer playing a (concert bassoon) and an old man in nightgown a horn.  Somehow the country exists in a time warp from the late 18th century - elaborate military uniforms for the rich, bucolic blouses for the poor.  Because the locals have other values, a bigger, more aggressive country threatens  to take them over. Princess-Regent Maria Renata (played by Diane Napier, Tauber's real-life wife) decrees music should henceforth be banned in Look-a , with severe penalties.  Since the film was made in 1936 the political parallels are obvious. This isn't just a comedy.

Jonah J Whistler, an American newspaperman, arrives in Look-a driving a horse-drawn carraige with his daughter Sadie. She wears early 19th century dimity, but she's utterly "modern" with her wisecracking repartee.   Since the secret police are cracking down on music, there's a mixup at customs. Jonah and Sadie's trunk has been swtched for a cache of musical instruments which include violin, balalaika, trumpet and much, much else.  "But I don;'t even know what a harpishord (sic) is" snorts Jonas.  Enter too,  Richard Tauber as Mario Carlini, a tenor with golden upper notes which he can extend almost to a scream, with a habit of bursting  into song at the oddest moments. The brigands are so impressed that they protect him from the secret police. Now that the people of Look-a have instruments again, they can organize concerts, just like dissidents getting together underground. While checking out the forest for  a meeting place, Tauber, who remains  Tauber whatever role he's playing, meets Princess Maria Renata and charms her, against her better judgement.

To cut a long story short, the son of the head of the Secret Police, Count Strozzi, falls in love with Sadie and she with him. when Tauber, Durante and the peasants are arrested and put into prison, Strozzi junior helps them.  From his cell, Tauber sings, so loudly that the whole principality can hear and join in. Revoution ! The population storm the gates of the prison and the musicians march out, heading the cheering masses. The scene is a fairly pointed take on the Solidarity Song sequence in Kuhle Wampe, which the Nazis didn't like, one bit.  So the princess relents and orders Look-a to make music its local industry.  Gold coins fill the coffers ! Music is OK, as long as it serves commerce and politics.

No comments: