Sunday, June 03, 2007

Love Is a Wondrous Adventure

Just watched Warner Brothers' 1947 production Escape Me Never, which is a reminder of how horribly uneven that studio was in the late '40s and '50s; their best writers, producers and directors were all leaving them for other studios (Hal Wallis had already split, and people like Michael Curtiz, John Huston and Jerry Wald would soon follow) and the result was a lot of movies with weak scripts and direction. This movie, a remake of a 1935 movie that wasn't all that good to begin with, has Errol Flynn playing a complete asshole, Ida Lupino miscast, and Eleanor Parker given -- as usual, as I've mentioned before -- nothing to do except look great.

What the film does have going for it, apart from fine camerawork by Sol Polito, is the last original film score by Erich Korngold. (After this movie, he, too, would leave Warners.) Flynn plays a composer, so Korngold gets to compose examples of the character's songs, operas and ballets, including an original song called "Love For Love," sung by Peg La Centra (dubbing Ida Lupino). It's a fairly typical Korngold melody, with echoes of Richard Strauss and Puccini, but somehow when his melodies have words put to them, you can more clearly hear his enormous debt to Viennese Operetta. Though his operas have some very fine things in them, none of them really work overall, due in part to atrocious librettos; but it's too bad he never wrote an operetta, because he was in many ways more like the next Lehar than the next Richard Strauss.

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