unintentionally funny

Film Before the six suspense films Alfred Hitchcock trotted out Waltzes from Vienna, the story of Strauss Jr writing The Blue Danube, and a film which sight unseen you’d at no point suspect was by Hitchcock. His only musical, it’s another piece he hated working on, and it’s reputed half way through shooting he gathered the actors and crew together and told them as much. It’s usually described as the worst things he ever made (presumably by people who haven’t sat through Juno and the Paycock) but it’s actually rather charming probably because in places it's so unintentionally funny.

Perversely, I think it's become one of my favourite Hitchcock films. It’s the kind of biopic in which a composer seemingly plucks a game changing piece of music from the air and knocks it out on paper without much in the way of preparation or feverish revery so that it can spend more of its time charming us with the love triangle between Strauss and his patron and shop girl girlfriend. The dependable Edmund Gwenn is hilariously grumpy as Strauss Snr and you’d have to have a hard heart indeed not to be moved when the opening strains of the tune drift through the soundtrack at the conclusion.

Someone has been good enough to upload the film to YouTube which is where I watched it. The transfer is very good in HD mode and despite Hitch's animosity to the material it’s still technically well planned with a virtuoso opening based around a fire at a bakers shop and some trickery being employed at the close to turn what’s obviously a very small set into a giant concert area for the premiere of the tune, by suggesting the camera is shifting through 360 degrees through some Rope-style cross wipes at strategically placed trees and columns.

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