(director: Anthony Mann; screenwriters: based on the novel by James M. Cain/Ivan Goff/Ben Roberts/John Twist; cinematographer: J. Peverell Manley; editor: William Ziegler; music: Sammy Cahn-lyrics/Nicholas Brodszky-score; cast: Mario Lanza (Damon Vincente), Joan Fontaine (Kendall Hale), Vincent Price (Charles Winthrop), Sarita Montiel (Juana Montes), Joseph Calleia (Maestro Marcatello), Harry Bellaver (Tonio), Vince Edwards (Marco Roselli), Silvio Minciotti (Lardelli); Runtime: 121; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Henry Blanke; Warner Brothers; 1956)
Sentimental tearjerker romantic drama directed with skill by the great Anthony Mann.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A limp sentimental tearjerker romantic drama directed with skill by the great Anthony Mann (“T-Men”/”Desperate”/”Raw Deal”), but still a bust despite his artistic touches. It’s loosely based on a novel by James M. Cain. Here the love interest is a female socialite, in the book the opera star has a homosexual affair.

Impoverished California vineyard worker Damon Vincente(Mario Lanza, real-life opera star) is sponsored to be an opera singer by a manipulative socialite named Kendall Hale (Joan Fontaine). Damon goes from rags-to-riches, but his downfall comes when he falls in love with Kendall. Unfortunately she grows bored with the singer and dumps him. This causes Damon to choke when auditioning for the Met. So he splits for Mexico and suffers from some kind of debilitating malaria disease. To the rescue comes Juana (Sarita Montiel), the beautiful daughter of a bullfighter, and the good lady gets the singer back on track to success.

The script by Ivan Goff, Ben Roberts and John Twist is absurd. But Lanza’s tenor voice is booming, and his decent singing performance at least makes things listenable (songs include “Serenade,” “Ave Maria” and “My Destiny”). There’s also Vincent Price around for those who appreciate his sinister charms, who plays with aplomb a sardonic famous concert promoter and the first musical professional to recognize that the vineyard worker was a gifted opera singer.

The only really exciting part of the film.