For the First Time (1959)

97 mins | Musical, Romance | August 1959

Director:

Rudolph Maté

Producer:

Alexander Grueter

Cinematographer:

Aldo Tonti

Editor:

Peter Zinner

Production Designer:

Fritz Maurischat
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HISTORY

For the First Time was shot on location in Italy, Germany and Austria. The film marked the final motion picture appearance of tenor Mario Lanza (1921--1959). Lanza made his film debut ten years earlier in the 1949 M-G-M production That Midnight Kiss (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50 ). The singer, battling alcohol and weight problems, died unexpectedly of a heart attack in Rome in Oct 1959, two months after the opening of For the First Time . The film also marked the American film debut of German actress Johanna von ... More Less

For the First Time was shot on location in Italy, Germany and Austria. The film marked the final motion picture appearance of tenor Mario Lanza (1921--1959). Lanza made his film debut ten years earlier in the 1949 M-G-M production That Midnight Kiss (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50 ). The singer, battling alcohol and weight problems, died unexpectedly of a heart attack in Rome in Oct 1959, two months after the opening of For the First Time . The film also marked the American film debut of German actress Johanna von Koczian. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
17 Aug 1959.
---
Daily Variety
14 Aug 59
p. 3.
Film Daily
14 Aug 59
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Oct 1958
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Nov 1958
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Aug 59
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
15 Aug 59
p. 372.
New York Times
15 Aug 59
p. 8.
Variety
14 Aug 1959.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
Orig story and scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
FILM EDITORS
Ed supv
Film ed
MUSIC
Mus score and dir
Opera seq photographed and rec at
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Prod mgr
SOURCES
SONGS
"Come Prima (For the First Time)," music by S. Taccani and V. Di Paola, Italian lyrics by M. Panzeri, English lyrics by Buck Ram
"Capri, Capri (Tarantella)" and "Pineapple Picker," music and lyrics by George Stoll
"Munchen Lied" and "The Bavarian's Beer Song," music and lyrics by Karl Bette
+
SONGS
"Come Prima (For the First Time)," music by S. Taccani and V. Di Paola, Italian lyrics by M. Panzeri, English lyrics by Buck Ram
"Capri, Capri (Tarantella)" and "Pineapple Picker," music and lyrics by George Stoll
"Munchen Lied" and "The Bavarian's Beer Song," music and lyrics by Karl Bette
"Ave Maria," music by Franz Schubert, lyrics traditional
"O Sole Mio," music and lyrics by E. di Capua
"Le Donna e Mobile," "Bella Figlia del'Amore," the death scene from the opera Othello and "Ritorna Vincitor," from the opera Aida , music and lyrics by Giuseppe Verdi
"Vesti la Giubba," from the opera Pagliacci , music and lyrics by Ruggiero Leoncavallo
"Laughing Song Trio," from the opera Cosi Fan Tutti , music and lyrics by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
"Ich Liebe Dich," music and lyrics by Edvard Grieg
"Je m'en connais pas de la fin," music by M. Monnot, lyrics by R. Asso.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
August 1959
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 14 August 1959
Production Date:
late October--late November 1958 at CCC-Film-Studio and Centro Cinematografico Incom, Rome
Copyright Claimant:
Loew's Inc. & Corona-Film-Production
Copyright Date:
27 April 1959
Copyright Number:
LP14828
Physical Properties:
Sound
Klang Film
Color
Technicolor
Widescreen/ratio
Technirama
Duration(in mins):
97
Length(in feet):
8,707
Length(in reels):
12
Countries:
Italy, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
19164
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Outside a Vienna opera hall, a crowd of wealthy patrons await the appearance of famed tenor Tonio Costa, as his manager, Ladislas Tabori, frets about the star’s unpredictable behavior. While the crowd grows increasingly restless, Tony is outside the hall in the rain standing atop a car, serenading those unable to purchase tickets for his show. Although Tony offers an apology, the management cancels his appearance and declares they are suing him. Tony and Tabori are joined backstage by Tony’s frequent companion, the Contessa Gloria de Vadnuz, who apologizes for leaving him unexpectedly in London. Frustrated by her behavior and the cancellation, Tony refuses to continue on to Spain for another performance. Tabori allows Tony to take a rest in Capri if he promises to travel incognito and stay out of trouble. Tony agrees and is surprised the next day to be greeted in Capri by Gloria, who invites him to stay at her villa. Tony reminds her of his promise to Tabori and politely declines. The next morning, despite his attempts at disguise, Tony is quickly recognized and surrounded by a crowd of young people who encourage him to sing. Tony obliges, but is miffed when he sings to a lone, pretty girl who continues reading and ignores him completely. Later when the crowd becomes overly effusive, Tony is forced to flee and escapes with the aid of a local musician. The guitarist reveals that the girl who piqued Tony’s curiosity is Christa Bruckner, a well liked local who is deaf. Chagrined, Tony purchases a van full of flowers and drives to her home ... +


Outside a Vienna opera hall, a crowd of wealthy patrons await the appearance of famed tenor Tonio Costa, as his manager, Ladislas Tabori, frets about the star’s unpredictable behavior. While the crowd grows increasingly restless, Tony is outside the hall in the rain standing atop a car, serenading those unable to purchase tickets for his show. Although Tony offers an apology, the management cancels his appearance and declares they are suing him. Tony and Tabori are joined backstage by Tony’s frequent companion, the Contessa Gloria de Vadnuz, who apologizes for leaving him unexpectedly in London. Frustrated by her behavior and the cancellation, Tony refuses to continue on to Spain for another performance. Tabori allows Tony to take a rest in Capri if he promises to travel incognito and stay out of trouble. Tony agrees and is surprised the next day to be greeted in Capri by Gloria, who invites him to stay at her villa. Tony reminds her of his promise to Tabori and politely declines. The next morning, despite his attempts at disguise, Tony is quickly recognized and surrounded by a crowd of young people who encourage him to sing. Tony obliges, but is miffed when he sings to a lone, pretty girl who continues reading and ignores him completely. Later when the crowd becomes overly effusive, Tony is forced to flee and escapes with the aid of a local musician. The guitarist reveals that the girl who piqued Tony’s curiosity is Christa Bruckner, a well liked local who is deaf. Chagrined, Tony purchases a van full of flowers and drives to her home only to find her in a donkey-drawn cart on the road. Christa, who can read lips, introduces herself and acknowledges Tony, but the two are interrupted by the Bruckner maid, Matilde, and Christa’s uncle, Albert. When Matilde despairs that Albert’s goat has eaten the flowers for her friend’s wedding ceremony later that day, Tony presents her with the van load. Albert invites Tony to the Bruckner hillside home where he explains that a bomb explosion during the war cost Christa her hearing at age five and left her the sole survivor of his brother’s family. Albert describes Christa as very sensitive and unusual, which intrigues Tony. That afternoon, Tony attends a party at Gloria’s villa, but is unexpectedly put off by the carefree mood and returns to the Bruckners' as the wedding party begins. The bride asks Tony to sing and he complies as Christa watches with a mixture of awe and sadness. Later, when Tony walks privately with Christa, she tells him they probably should not meet again, but Tony kisses her, then bids her goodnight. The next morning, Tony sets off for the Bruckners, only to be met by Albert who reveals that Christa has fallen in love with Tony, and confides he fears she will be hurt. When Tony protests, Albert admits they have read of Tony’s reputation and question his genuineness. Tony concedes the news stories about him are mostly justified, then tells Albert he will leave Capri, but only so he can prove his love for Christa. Hoping to find a cure for Christa, Tony returns to London to ask Tabori to locate all of Europe’s hearing specialists. Tabori reveals that Tony’s habitual extravagance has bankrupt him and his recklessness has cost vital bookings. Tony insists that Tabori arrange a tour, agreeing to accept and pay a double penalty if he fails to appear. Realizing the singer is sincere, Tabori agrees. Several days later, Tony returns to Capri to tell the Bruckners he has located specialists in Geneva, Vienna, Salzburg, Stockholm and London and also arranged performances in each city. Christa is overwhelmed and she and Albert agree to accompany Tony on his tour. After arriving in Vienna, Tony and the Bruckners learn that the doctor there concurs with the expert in Geneva who advised that the only possible treatment, surgery, is far too dangerous to recommend. The group proceeds to Salzburg where Christa is examined by Dr. Bressart. Eager to know the results, Christa returns before her scheduled appointment. Bressart admits that although he is still awaiting one test result, he must agree that the surgery, which is in experimental stages, is too dangerous. Christa pleads with the doctor to reconsider, confiding that she will never marry Tony unless she can hear. Moved by her plea, Bressart agrees to perform the operation. Upon Bressart’s advice, Tony goes on to Stockholm while the surgery is performed. Bressart telephones Tony later to tell him that Christa’s surgery was successful and they will know the results in five days. Tony returns to Salzburg after his Stockholm performance and immediately visits a sleeping Christa in the hospital. Hearing a choir singing in the distance, Tony joins in softly and Christa awakens to his voice and realizes she can hear. A few days later, Bressart authorizes Christa’s discharge but cautions Tony that to ensure the operation's success, she must rest and avoid even the slightest infirmity. Tony and Christa announce that upon completion of Tony’s tour they will wed in Capri. Tabori takes Christa aside and warns her of Tony’s excessiveness, and she assures him she will keep things under control. Over the next several days as they travel across Europe, Christa joins Tony in enthusiastic celebrations. In London, the pair are caught in a rainstorm and by the evening’s end, Christa is tired and run-down. Upon flying back to the Continent, Christa abruptly realizes she has lost her hearing again, but does not tell Tony. While sailing back to Capri, however, Tony realizes that Christa cannot hear and berates himself for his irresponsible behavior. Upon reaching Capri, Christa and Tony are greeted by Albert, Matilde and Tabori, who are dismayed to learn of Christa’s relapse. Albert contacts Bressart who agrees to come to Capri. When Tony goes into town, Albert asks villa workers Alessandro and Angelo to keep an eye on him. At a local pub, a belligerent Tony tries to buy a drink, but although Alessandro and Angelo try to intervene, Tony starts a brawl. When the men are brought before the local commissar, Alessandro and Angelo take full responsibility for the fight and state that Tony was an uninvolved, innocent bystander. To Tony’s surprise, Gloria appears at the hearing to vouch for him. Despite the newspapers' report of the fight, Tony is let off without charges and gratefully pays for Alessandro and Angelo’s fines. Hastening to the Bruckners with Tabori, Tony meets Bressart, who reveals that Christa has been affected only temporarily by a virus and that her hearing will return permanently. Ecstatic, Tony joins Christa to reveal that his happiness is complete not only because of her recovery, but because he realizes for the first time the value of true friends. +

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.