The Great Waltz (1938)

100, 104-105 or 107 mins | Biography, Musical | 4 November 1938

Producer:

Bernard H. Hyman

Cinematographer:

Joseph Ruttenberg

Editor:

Tom Held

Production Designer:

Cedric Gibbons

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

An early working title for the film was The Life of Johann Strauss . According to contemporary news items, M-G-M originally had planned to make the picture in late 1935 or early 1936. In early 1935, it was announced that Dmitri Tiomkin was doing advance music work for the film, and a short time later, Nelson Eddy was announced as the lead. Joseph L. Mankiewicz was initially announced as the film's producer. Several possible leads other than Eddy were considered in 1935, among them Francis Lederer, Brian Aherne, Clifton Webb and Fredric March. After more than a year of preparations, however, in Nov 1935, M-G-M announced that they were postponing the project to wait for the "right" operatic lead. In the released film, the male lead, Fernard Gravet, does not sing. The only singing done by his character was dubbed by two baritones. Backgrounds for the film were shot on location in Chino, CA, under second unit director Richard Rosson. This was the only American film of Polish soprano Miliza Korjus, and the last American-made film for almost thirty years for Ferdinand Gravet, who returned to France in 1939. According to modern sources, portions of the film were directed by Josef von Sternberg.
       Cinematographer Joseph Ruttenberg received an Academy Award for his work on the picture. The film was nominated for two other Academy Awards--Best Supporting Actress (Miliza Korjus) and Best Film Editing (Tom Held). A 1934 British film entitled Waltzes from Vienna , starring Jessie Matthews and Edmund Gwen, the 1963 Disney film The Waltz King , directed by Steve Previn and starring Kerwin ... More Less

An early working title for the film was The Life of Johann Strauss . According to contemporary news items, M-G-M originally had planned to make the picture in late 1935 or early 1936. In early 1935, it was announced that Dmitri Tiomkin was doing advance music work for the film, and a short time later, Nelson Eddy was announced as the lead. Joseph L. Mankiewicz was initially announced as the film's producer. Several possible leads other than Eddy were considered in 1935, among them Francis Lederer, Brian Aherne, Clifton Webb and Fredric March. After more than a year of preparations, however, in Nov 1935, M-G-M announced that they were postponing the project to wait for the "right" operatic lead. In the released film, the male lead, Fernard Gravet, does not sing. The only singing done by his character was dubbed by two baritones. Backgrounds for the film were shot on location in Chino, CA, under second unit director Richard Rosson. This was the only American film of Polish soprano Miliza Korjus, and the last American-made film for almost thirty years for Ferdinand Gravet, who returned to France in 1939. According to modern sources, portions of the film were directed by Josef von Sternberg.
       Cinematographer Joseph Ruttenberg received an Academy Award for his work on the picture. The film was nominated for two other Academy Awards--Best Supporting Actress (Miliza Korjus) and Best Film Editing (Tom Held). A 1934 British film entitled Waltzes from Vienna , starring Jessie Matthews and Edmund Gwen, the 1963 Disney film The Waltz King , directed by Steve Previn and starring Kerwin Mattews and Brian Aherne, and a 1973 M-G-M release, also entitled The Great Waltz , were inspired by the life of Johann Strauss II. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
2 Nov 38
p. 3.
Film Daily
4 Nov 38
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Jan 35
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Feb 35
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Apr 35
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
11 May 35
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Jul 35
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Nov 35
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
9 May 38
pp. 1-2.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Apr 38
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
16 May 38
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Aug 38
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Aug 38
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Nov 38
p. 3.
Motion Picture Daily
3 Nov 38
p. 4.
Motion Picture Herald
5 Jul 38
p. 2.
Motion Picture Herald
9 Jul 38
p. 25.
Motion Picture Herald
4 Nov 38
p. 35.
New York Times
25 Nov 38
p. 19.
Variety
2 Nov 38
p. 15.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Bodil Ann Rosing
Arthur Hamburger
Anthony Marlow
Luke Cosgrove
Harry von Zynda
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2d unit dir
Dial dir
Dir of retakes
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Orig story
Contr to orig story
PHOTOGRAPHY
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir assoc
Art dir assoc
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
COSTUMES
Gowns
MUSIC
Mus dir
Mus of Johann Strauss II adpt and arr
SOUND
Rec dir
DANCE
Dances and ensembles
MAKEUP
Hair styles for Miss Korjus
STAND INS
Singing voice doubles for Mr. Gravat
Singing voice doubles for Mr. Gravat
Vocal stand-in for Miss Korjus
SOURCES
SONGS
"Tales of the Vienna Woods," "There'll Come a Time," "I'm in Love with Vienna," "One Day When We Were Young," "An Artist's Life," "The Blue Danube," "Voice of Spring," "Du und du," "Revolutionary March," selections from the operetta Die fledermaus and other waltzes by Johann Strauss II, with lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Life of Johann Strauss
Release Date:
4 November 1938
Production Date:
early May--21 September 1938
Copyright Claimant:
Loew's Inc.
Copyright Date:
31 October 1938
Copyright Number:
LP8416
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
100, 104-105 or 107
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
PCA No:
4613
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

In mid-nineteenth century Vienna, Johann "Schani" Strauss, the son of the well-known waltz composer, whose name he bears, works as a clerk in a bank. Johann also wants to write waltzes and has difficulty concentrating on banking matters. When he is caught composing a tune one day, he is fired, but is happy because he will now have more time to devote to music. Johann's sweetheart, Poldi Vogelhuber, the daughter of a baker, is happy with his decision, and while Johann visits her father's shop, baker Kienzl, who is an amateur musician, suggests that he and other friends help Johann to start an orchestra. A short time later, they get a job at the popular Donmayer's Cafe, but their music does not seem to appeal to Otto Donmayer's patrons. Just as he is about to dismiss Johann, however, Fritz Schiller and Carla Donner, two stars from the Imperial Opera, arrive at the cafe and ask to have the orchestra play for them. Johann plays a new waltz, "Artist's Life," and the cafe is soon crowded with music lovers. Schiller, is impressed with Johann and arranges for him to attend a party at the palace of Count Hohenfried. Carla sings one of Johann's waltzes, which attracts the attention of the music publisher Julius Hofbauer, but Johann is insulted by what he perceives to be both Carla and Hofbauer's interest in him only as an amusement. He storms out of the party and soon marries the devoted Poldi. A short time later, a revolution breaks out and Johann writes a march that becomes the anthem of the revolutionaries. One day, as marchers ... +


In mid-nineteenth century Vienna, Johann "Schani" Strauss, the son of the well-known waltz composer, whose name he bears, works as a clerk in a bank. Johann also wants to write waltzes and has difficulty concentrating on banking matters. When he is caught composing a tune one day, he is fired, but is happy because he will now have more time to devote to music. Johann's sweetheart, Poldi Vogelhuber, the daughter of a baker, is happy with his decision, and while Johann visits her father's shop, baker Kienzl, who is an amateur musician, suggests that he and other friends help Johann to start an orchestra. A short time later, they get a job at the popular Donmayer's Cafe, but their music does not seem to appeal to Otto Donmayer's patrons. Just as he is about to dismiss Johann, however, Fritz Schiller and Carla Donner, two stars from the Imperial Opera, arrive at the cafe and ask to have the orchestra play for them. Johann plays a new waltz, "Artist's Life," and the cafe is soon crowded with music lovers. Schiller, is impressed with Johann and arranges for him to attend a party at the palace of Count Hohenfried. Carla sings one of Johann's waltzes, which attracts the attention of the music publisher Julius Hofbauer, but Johann is insulted by what he perceives to be both Carla and Hofbauer's interest in him only as an amusement. He storms out of the party and soon marries the devoted Poldi. A short time later, a revolution breaks out and Johann writes a march that becomes the anthem of the revolutionaries. One day, as marchers start to sing the song in the streets, they surround the coach of an aristocrat. Just as violence is about to erupt, Johann notices that Carla is in the coach and rescues her. They then drive through the Vienna Woods and Johann is inspired by the sounds of the forest to compose a tune, which he and Carla joyously sing. They are then caught in a rainstorm and take cover at a small inn where the innkeeper, who thinks that Carla is Johann's wife tells her "it must be wonderful to be the wife of Johann Strauss." After she wistfully agrees, Johann leads the inn's small orchestra in one of his compositions and he and Carla realize that they are in love. Soon Count Hohenfried arrives after looking frantically for Carla and takes her home. The revolution has failed, and Johann returns home to Poldi, but cannot get his mind off Carla. He resolves to leave Vienna and take Poldi with him, but soon Carla tells him that he has been commissioned to write an opera for her. While the opera is being rehearsed, Carla and Johann fall more deeply in love. When the opera opens, the count discovers that Poldi, who has remained silent about Johann's relationship to Carla, has not come to the opening. The count goes to her and urges her to stop the affair before they run off together because he knows that such a relationship will only bring unhappiness to all of them. Poldi then goes to the Imperial Opera House but, when he sees Johann's triumph, she decides to go to Carla to tell her that she is planning to give her husband up because she could not help and inspire him as Carla does. Touched, Carla tells Poldi that she cannot accept her sacrifice and leaves without Johann. In the following decades, Johann becomes world famous and is given every possible honor for his waltzes. Despite his feelings for Carla, he remains with the devoted Poldi. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.