This film tells the true story of the difficult relationship between Austrian composer Johann Strauss (Edmund Gwenn, Miracle on 34th Street) and his son, Johann Strauss II (Esmond Knight, Black Narcissus). The elder Strauss, an established composer, doesn’t want his son to follow in his footsteps. Strauss Jr. sets out to prove to his father that he has the talent to succeed in the world of music.
Reaction & Thoughts:
“You mean you’d really give up your music for me?”
Waltzes From Vienna is an anomaly in Alfred Hitchcock’s filmography: a period piece based upon real-life people and events. And you know what? He is pretty good at this sort of thing! The Master of the Suspense referred to the movie as “the lowest point in my career,” but I beg to differ — this is an entertaining movie with fantastic music.
Waltzes From Vienna is based on a London stage musical. Alma Reville, Hitchcock’s wife, co-wrote the screenplay with the help of Guy Bolton (Till the Clouds Roll By). The movie plays loosey-goosey with facts; the rivalry between Strauss Sr. & Strauss Jr. was very real, but the rest of the movie is mostly fiction.
The script is witty and the melodrama is satisfying. The performances are good too. Sometimes I felt like I was watching an old Ernst Lubitsch musical-comedy and I mean as a compliment — if you’ve seen films like The Smiling Lieutenant, The Love Parade and Monte Carlo, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
This is a gift for fans of classical music. The music by Strauss II is featured throughout the movie. The 19th century Austrian composer was responsible for some of the most beautiful music ever written and Hitchcock seems to understand this fact.
Waltzes From Vienna was competently shot by the director. Hitchcock’s brilliance can be seen during the film’s powerful climax. The final montage is carefully edited to match Strauss’s “The Blue Danube.” It’s so well-done that you feel as if Strauss wrote the music specifically for the movie. We know this is impossible, but that’s how the montage comes across. I re-played this sequence without sound and I could still see the rhythm of Strauss’s famous composition.
Conclusions & Final Thoughts:
It’s too bad that Waltzes From Vienna isn’t as readily available as other Hitchcock movies. At the very least, the film is a nice curiosity. Waltzes From Vienna is meticulously crafted. The fancy sets settings and costumes are wonderful. If you liked films like A Song to Remember (1945), The Music Lovers (1970) or Immortal Beloved (1994), you might enjoy this delightful production. B&W, 80 minutes, Not Rated.