A Song to Remember [VHS]
A Song to Remember [VHS]

 
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Product Description

The short life and passionate music of romantic composer Fr¨¦d¨¦ric Chopin provide the foundations for this 1945 drama, which proved influential in its gaudy, undeniably watchable formula of historical exaggeration and shrewdly simplified motives for its principals. In an Oscar-nominated performance, Cornel Wilde presents the Polish native as a passionate nationalist driven by his love of his native country and his hatred of its czarist regime, a thematic focus that can be forgiven in light of the political backdrop at the time of the production. Already a prodigy in his native land, where he's mentored by a shamelessly scenery-chewing Paul Muni as Professor Elsner, Chopin flees to Paris where his flashing eyes, dark nimbus of curls, and florid technique earn him stardom, while his involvement with the writer George Sand (a beautiful Merle Oberon, even when draped in then-provocatively masculine garb) introduces a romantic crescendo. Still, the tortured pianist-composer pines for his homeland, frets about its political fate, and begins to wither under the rigors of his new career as ur-superstar; in a typically over-the-top but riveting image, we see drops of blood spatter across the keyboard as he thunders through a recital, gallantly ignoring his failing health to spread his music and, by extension, awareness of Poland's fate. Numerous subsequent musical dramas (including two more Song-titled biographies from the same studio) would ply a similar mix of grand gestures and larger-than-life emotions, yet the most interesting comparison to be made is with 1991's Impromptu, a more acerbic spin through the Sand/Chopin affair (and the Parisian demimonde including Alfred DeMusset, Franz Liszt, and Eugene Delacroix) directed by frequent Stephen Sondheim collaborator James Lapine. --Sam Sutherland

Customer Reviews:

  • Hollywoodized biography of Chopin, but I loved it.
    I love this movie. I realize that many of the facts of Chopin's life have been altered in order to make an appealing story which fits into a normal-length movie. Despite this, this movie has much to commend it, starting with the fact that it is filled with some of the best music Chopin -- or anyone, for that matter -- ever wrote (played, I believe, by Jose Iturbi). Also, I find it well cast, and well acted as well -- in the style of the time in which it was made. In my view this movie is characteristic of both the strong points and flaws of Hollywood's Golden Age. Nevertheless, taken on its own terms, it's a beautiful, very moving film....more info
  • Deeply affecting!
    This is one of the most powerful dramas I've ever seen. Granted, it does seem a bit dated in many ways, but very few contemporary films have hit me with such a strong emotional punch. It's very deeply affecting--so much so that my critical skills completely break down in wonder. I can't be clever about something this magnificent. See it for yourself and perhaps we'll agree!...more info
  • A SONG THAT I'LL CERTAINLY ALWAYS REMEMBER
    A few days ago, thanks to Amazon and a kind gentleman named Ernest who had one to sell, I FINALLY became the proud owner of A Song to Remember on VHS - a little more than 56 years after I saw the actual movie. They say if something's good enough to want, it's good enough to wait for, and this is certainly true where this sublime movie and most treasured memory of my childhood is concerned. In 1946, at the age of 9, my well meaning parents (back home in Wales, U.K.) took me to see this movie, without telling me that their main reason was 'the hope that it would encourage me to put more effort in to my piano lessons'. To their dismay, they soon discovered that, in that respect, they had failed miserably because - after seeing this movie and being introduced to the life and beautiful music of Frederic Chopin, through the incredible combination of Cornel Wilde's good looks (and excellent acting) and the superb performance of the music itself by Jose Iturbi, I promptly came to the conclusion that if I couldn't play that well, then I didn't want to play at all. Not long afterwards, my long suffering piano teacher was relieved (in every sense of the word) of her duties. But from the moment I sat enraptured through that movie, I fell in love with Chopin and his music and made the vow that 'when I grow up, I'm going to go to Poland and listen to a Chopin recital in the country where it all began'. More than forty years later (and having moved to Canada in the meantime) I achieved that ambition and what a joy it was to hear this wonderful music played by a leading exponent of Chopin's music from the Warsaw Conservatory. My other ambition was to somehow 'acquire' this memorable movie for myself. But I found that to be easier said than done, as all my enquiries came up with an 'out of print' response. Then just over a week ago, I saw that Amazon did indeed have one for sale - 'used'. I knew it was a risk to fork out money for a product that I couldn't even be sure was in great condition. But I wanted this movie so much, that I 'boughtit' immediately, before anyone else could pounce on it. My movie arrived a few days later, just in time for it to be 'a special birthday gift to myself'. Today was my birthday and one of the biggest treats of my day was to curl up in comfort and watch A Song to Remember in my own home at long last. Oh what memories watching it brought back, and what joy is gave me to finally have this wonderful movie in my possession to play and watch for ever more. I am also happy to say that this 'used' tape turned out to be in superb condition, with its picture and sound as good as new. This is one happy movie owner and my thanks to Amazon and Ernest for finally making it possible for me to fulfil a lifelong dream. It means more to me than you would ever imagine! A Song to Remember made it a Birthday to Remember too!!...more info
  • Freddie meets Sand
    A cameo on Frederick Chopin in his short lifespan. Wilde and Oberon give excellent performances and Paul Muni shines in this one. if you like a good story, lovely music and beautiful scenery, this is a classic well worth adding to your collection. Flicks of this quality, once made, will never be made again...more info
  • A handsome Technicolor extravaganza...
    For students of music, 'A Song to Remember' is to criticize, since it greatly romanticizes the life of Chopin and adds many fictional tissues...

    However, criticism on that level must be tempered with the understanding that in 1945 this film did a deal to interest a wide public in Chopin's music... With the music adapted by Miklos Rozsa and performed by Jos¨¦ Iturbi, there is much to enjoy and admire...

    According to Sidney Buchman's screenplay, Chopin is a political idealist who devotes much of his career to adopt the cause of his native Poland in its struggle to throw off czarist oppression... As a young man Chopin (Cornel Wilde) sides with the revolutionaries, to the concern of his sagacious teacher and mentor Joseph Elsner (Paul Muni). When Chopin goes to Paris to win fame and money to support his political friends, Elsner accompanies him, to guide and protect him...

    In the halls of a music publisher, Chopin makes the acquaintance of Franz Liszt (Stephen Bekassy), who is already an admirer of the young Pole's compositions... Liszt befriends him, promotes his career, and introduces him to the elegant and romantic novelist Georges Sand (Merle Oberon). The tempestuous couple fall in love and Chopin, against Elsner's advice, goes with her on a journey to Majorca, where his health is undermined...

    The facts are that Chopin was never an active Polish revolutionary and pursued a career without political motivation... He went to Paris alone, and his affair with Georges Sand lasted eight years, until he left her after a quarrel...

    Elsner did not accompany Chopin to Paris from Poland, nor did he ever engage in a duel of wits with George Sand for control of Chopin's life and aims...

    Constantia, the character played by Nina Foch, never went to Paris to plead with Chopin to help his fellow Poles in their struggle against Czarist rule... Elsner and Sand never reflected, nor influenced Chopin's musical style to the degree implied in the film, and it would be a mistake to accept the movie impression of Sand as a nymphomaniac who betrayed Musset, destroyed Chopin, and changed her philosophy and politics to suit the views of each successive lover... When Sand thought she had found something approaching perfection in a man, she lived with him for years... She remained impervious to Musset's skeptical views and Chopin's aristocratic prejudices...

    However, Charles Vidor's film is a handsome Technicolor extravaganza, directed with all the sweep and emotional vitality for which he was characterized... The film showcases a highly mannered Paul Muni; an effusive and intense Merle Oberon (a petite, exotic-looking and strikingly beautiful brunette, wearing gorgeous gowns, walking with grand ¨¦clat) and an elegantly tormented Cornel Wilde...

    Having taken due note of all this, it is only fair to state that if one is willing to surrender to the gorgeous romanticism of the doings, and if one approaches 'A Song to Remember' as a fictional tale about a 19th century composer who wrote exquisite concertos, penetrating solo pieces, who loved the eccentric George Sand, who wanted to help his fellow Poles in the effort, who proved ungrateful to his mentor, then one is faced with electrifying scenes, courtesy of Merle Oberon who was never more forceful in her tense confrontation scenes with Muni for Wilde's attention and acknowledgment... Paul Muni's performance exuded a poetic kind-heartedness with quiet realism...

    When the indifferent but determined Chopin decides to embark on the concert tour that will raise money for "the cause," Oberon seems very exciting in her trenchant speech about the bitterness and sorrow of her past that had hardened her to defy the world with her individualism...

    Fine characterizations are contributed by Stephen Bekassy as Franz Lisz, George Coulouris as music publisher Louis Pleyel, and George Macready as Alfred De Musset, one of the more conspicuous lovers of Sand...

    If taken as an essentially fictional work, 'A Song to Remember' is hilarious classical musical biopic which was unexpectedly popular... ...more info
  • The Best Classical Musical
    Although some liberties may have been taken with the actual life story of Frederic Chopin, the story is appealing. The optimum amount of music is interspersed with the story so that there is enough music, but not too much. Chopin is perhaps the finest composer of piano music ever and the majesty of his music lifts this movie to the heights of musical entertainment. I loved it when I was ten years old and I love it today at the age of 72. It is a wonderful inspirational movie and I personally wish it could be remade with today's technology....more info
  • Ridiculous facts, but fantastic fainting
    For anyone who is really looking for the facts, don't see this movie! However, if you like extreme drama and death bed scenes it is pretty stirring. My ultimate favorite scence is when he faints after his final concert....more info
  • A Song to Remember
    My husband and I loved this video-- played it for our grandson (only 9 and an accomplished pianist) and he and his mom loved it too. The piano playing is so wonderful it brought tears to our eyes!...more info
  • Entertaining but inaccurate
    I love the music of Chopin. That is why I was eager to see this 1945 classic about his life. After seeing it, I enjoyed the film so much that it spurred me to seek out some biographical information on his life. After having done so, I realized that the story in the film bore very little resemblance to the truth and I was greatly disappointed. It was just another example of extremely entertaining Hollywood drivel.

    As a work of fiction, the film was nicely done. The story was enchanting and it painted Chopin as a very noble patriot, playing himself to death in concerts to earn money to support the Polish revolution, though I found no support for that in anything I read. Cornel Wilde was nominated for an Oscar for his performance, which was excellent indeed, but he was incongruously cast. Wilde is handsome and athletic looking and Chopin was plain and frail. Paul Muni, though charming in the role of Professor Elsner, was much too eccentric and ebulliently peculiar to be very believable. The best performance by far was given by Merle Oberon as the cold and iron willed George Sand, whose love affair with Chopin turned into a tyrannical attempt to shelter him from the world.

    The best part of this film was the music of Chopin himself, played brilliantly by Jose Iturbi. The music alone was worth enduring the Hollywood prevarication. I also enjoyed the 19th Century costumes.

    I rated this film a 7/10. If it were a fictional account of some person who never existed, I probably would have rated it a 9/10, because it was very enjoyable. However, such liberties were taken with the truth that I had to deduct a couple of points in protest. If you are a classic film buff or a classical music lover, it is definitely worth seeing....more info

  • Several Moments to remember.
    This is the earliest movie rendering of the Chopin/Sand affair I have seen to date. However, in this, Sand is more of an impediment to what Chopin must do--raise funds for his Polish rebel friends. This is something that has been neglected to a degree, in the other two movies I have seen on this subject (Impromptu, Desire for Love). Both acknowledge his Polish-ness and one does even show his rushed departure from his beloved homeland.

    However neither really illustrate his ties with the rebels of the country in the same way this one does. This one is based on the idea that Poland was his sole reason for playing and performing that Poland was the source of his greatest triumph (The Polianse--not sure I spelled that right).

    While Sand's character is clearly maligned for the sake of a more inspiring plot, she is portrayed beautifully by Merle Oberon, who looks fantastic in the very stylized outfits. (An attempt to capture Sand's cross-dressing ways) Her children, who played a huge role in the Sand/Chopin relationship have been completely eliminated. Instead she is given the odd notion of being a semi-hermit. Someone who beleives that artists should be paid tribute to and not forced to perform for the general rabble.

    Cornel Wilde does an amazing job, while not looking the part of the waifish Chopin (I think Hugh Grant might be my favorite, honestly), he acts it so as to really convince me. And he didn't do it with a silly accent (unlike the French accent he sports in 'The Sword of Lancelot') He plays Chopin with a sort of sweet innocence that flames his passion for his country and allows us to forgive him for his lack of abilty to really be his own man when faced with the opposition of Sand and his Professor.

    The Professor character while mostly endearing was at times very over the top--played by Paul Muni, whom I don't personally recognize from anything else. I did enjoy him as a sort of anchor for Chopin though, and he really was very endearing in the manner which he kept in contact with Chopin's family.

    A reallly enjoyable movie, but certainly not a real biography. It had two scenes which I really admired, firstly the introduction of Chopin and Lizt "If you play the harmony and I play the melody then we shall each have a free hand" and Sand's little trick on the Parisians to gain acceptance for Chopin's music. The moment she walks in the the darkened room with her candelabra (in full women's dress, looking amazing) It really looked great....more info
  • Magnificent music and drama
    Saw this film when I was a young gal. My friends and I gathered around the popcorn this past week and watched it-enthralled by the amazing finger placement by Cornell Wilde. So believable!
    The composers during the Romantic period were God's gift to us, and their music will live on in our hearts.

    If you haven't seen this one, don't miss it....more info

  • The Majesty of the Music
    My sister and I were talking about music and got around to dicussing Chopin's Grand Polonaise. It is, beyond all others that I've heard and loved in my life, my favorite piece of music. My sister feels the same and remarked that she was surprised she did not have a copy of it. I mentioned that I have different renditions but not one that I'm 100% satisfied with. This movie came to mind and I said I would kill to hear it again as played in "A Song to Remember," which she instantly remembered and rhapsodised over. We agreed that there was no rendition of the Polonaise more sublime than the one in this movie. We were little girls then, are in our early 60's now, but never forgot this movie, Cornel Wilde or Chopin's Polonaise. Critics can say what they like about the unimportant inaccuracies of this old film, but it's burned into the emotional memory of those of us who saw and loved it in our childhoods. I'm putting in an order for my copy right now. You won't regret it if you put in yours....more info
  • A Song to Remember
    Well, I have not seen the video yet. But I will.

    I saw this picture when it was a new film, 13 times. I remember exactly, because I had just turned 13 when it came out. (I'm now 69.)

    When I saw this movie, I fell in love, total love, with Cornel Wilde and Frederic Chopin simultaneously. I had just started taking piano lessons the year before, and I became obsessed with Chopin's music, played in masterful fashion in the film by Jose Iturbi. Cornel Wilde also did a masterful job, pretending to be playing the piano. He was totally believable. And beautiful Merle Oberon was so good as George Sand, Chopin's lover and a great novelist of that time. Paul Muni was memorable as Chopin's teacher. But for me, the film was all about Cornel Wilde, Chopin, and Jose Iturbi. That wondrous music!

    I have not been able to see this film since 1945, but I still remember it. Of course it is shamefully a Hollywood product, they take great liberties with the truth, but oh, when I was a 13-year-old, it was magical to me! Everyone on the screen vibrated, shone! The story grabbed me by the throat, I sobbed when seeing it the second time and all subequent times when Chopin made the decision to go to Majorca with George Sand, because I knew it was his doom. I sobbed when Chopin slogged through the torrential rain to attend his piano lessons, knowing that (according to the movie) he was going to "catch" tuberculosis later, and die far too young. I believe he was only 39 when he died. I sobbed when those telltale drops of blood hit the piano keys while he played his thunderous Polonaise, nobly protesting the czarist regime. Oh, the emotions! Oh, the drama!

    Well, that's the way movies were made back then. The truth was ignored in the interest of a good profile or a dramatic plot device. The handsome/beautiful stars drove the story. The way the movie looked and sounded was more important than any historical accuracy. And this movie delivered: beautiful images and lush sound, in spades. I still remember it, after 57 years!

    So, if you love Chopin, or Cornel Wilde, or Merle Oberon, you won't be disappointed in this film. The music is glorious, the actors are gorgeous, the scenery gets chewed to a fare-the-well. I'm gonna buy the VHS! Wish I had a DVD player, I'll bet it's fantastic in that format....more info

 

 
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