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THEY SHALL HAVE MUSIC (director: Archie Mayo; screenwriters: Irma von Cube/John Howard Lawson/based on the novel by Charles L. Clifford; cinematographer: Gregg Toland; editor: Sherman Todd; music: Alfred Newman; cast: Jascha Heifetz (Himself), Joel McCrea (Peter McCarthy), Andrea Leeds (Ann Lawson), Walter Brennan (Professor Lawson), Gene Reynolds (Frankie), Terry Kilburn (Limey), Porter Hall (Mr. Flower), Arthur Hoyl (Stepfather), Diana Lynn (Pianist), Paul Harvey (Heifetz’s Manager), Marjorie Main (Frankie’s Mom), Tommy Kelly (Willie), Alexander Schonberg (Menken); Runtime: 105; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Samuel Goldwyn; United Artists; 1939)
“Producer Samuel Goldwyn’s attempt to bring classical music to the masses.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Producer Samuel Goldwyn’s attempt to bring classical music to the masses is a sentimental inspirational formulaic music drama that survives such negatives because the music is so good. It’s based on the novel by Charles L. Clifford and the predictable stock story is surprisingly well-written by Irma von Cube and John Howard Lawson. Archie Mayo (“Charley’s Aunt “/”Moontide”/”Four Sons”) directs in an efficient workmanlike way a story about music as a means of redemption from an abusive life of poverty.

Violinist Jascha Heifetz performs in a New York City concert and inspires the abused slum-rat Frankie (Gene Reynolds), who found the tickets in the street, to again take up the violin, an instrument his late father taught him how to play when he was a child. But his wicked stepfather (Arthur Hoyl) breaks the instrument and the kid runs away on the threat of being sent to reform school, only to join a music school for underprivileged children run by kindly Professor Lawson (Walter Brennan) and his daughter Ann (Andrea Leeds). The school is threatened with closing its doors by Flower (Porter Hall), one of its creditors, who demands that the school must charge tuition. The street-wise Frankie overhears Ann and her music store clerk boyfriend Peter McCarthy (Joel McCrea) talking over the critical school financial situation and organizes a school street concert to raise money. Frankie runs into Heifetz coming out of Carnegie Hall and persuades him to perform at the children’s benefit concert, as the violinist arrives just in the nick of time to save the school by sponsoring it.

Heifetz has five violin solos from the likes of composers Saint-Saëns, Tchaikovsky and Mendelssohn, which come in the nick of time to save the film from being totally out of tune.

REVIEWED ON 11/22/2008 GRADE: C+

Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”