Waltzes from Vienna (1934)

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6.0 Overall Score
Story: 5/10
Acting: 6/10
Visuals: 7/10

Interesting to see a sell-out Hitchcock picture

Dull and lifeless

 
Movie Info

Movie Name:  Waltzes from Vienna

Studio:  Gaumont British

Genre(s):  Musical/Drama/Romance

Release Date(s):  March 1934 (UK)/April 7, 1935 (US)

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

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“Please, Father….listen to me play….please!”

Johann “Schani” Strauss (Esmond Knight) dreams of being a composer, but his father Johann Strauss (Edmund Gwenn) refuses to let him live his dreams as the resident composer.  When Schani works with his love Rasi (Jessie Matthews) to compose a waltz called The Blue Danube, Resi fears that she’ll lose him to the Countess Helga von Stahl (Fay Compton) who could help Johann’s musical dreams become reality in spite of his father.

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, Waltzes from Vienna is also known by the title of Strauss’ Great Waltz.  Following Number Seventeen in 1932, Waltzes from Vienna is a musical and was said to by Hitchcock to be the lowest point of his career.

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“I just want to remind you that your father hates you”

Waltzes from Vienna is generally not considered a non-Hitchcock “Hitchcock” film.  Hitchcock admitted he made the film because he needed the money and had nothing on his plate for they year.  It is a strange movie because it is rather basic fair for the time and has very few Hitchcock touches.

The plot is rather mundane.  It is loosely based on the real life of Johann Strauss’ life and his relationship with his father.  It is very cliché driven and over the top.  The movie builds to the performance of the famous The Blue Danube, but then goes on for another ten minutes or so which feels even more tired…fortunately, the movie is rather short.

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“I’m doing it, Daddy…I’m doing it!!!”

The acting is very typical for the day.  Esmond Knight plays the lead as Schani, and he later went on almost be completely blinded during World War II.  Jessie Matthews was also popular during the pre and post-war film and stage and Fay Compton started out in J.M. Barrie’s plays.  Edmund Gwenn had the meatier role in the movie as Johann’s jealous father, and went on to his Academy Award winning performance in Miracle on 34th St.

While some of the style of the film is a bit creative, there is little of Alfred Hitchcock’s signature look in the movie.  It is this which makes Waltzes from Vienna even more disappointing.  It would have been interesting to see a true Hitchcock musical with all his style.  The movie doesn’t even feature his signature cameo.

Every director occasionally has to do movies just to make money so in that sense, it is interesting to see a Hitchcock picture where he sells out for popular culture.  Hitchcock did learn how to blend popular trends with his stories, but Waltzes from Vienna feels just like he described it…something to do to get some income.  Hitchcock followed Waltzes from Vienna with his original version of The Man Who Knew Too Much in 1934.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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