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Sunday, June 8, 2008

ZAUBER DER BOHEME (1936)

Just as the B’way musical RENT (see above) updated LA BOHEME to lower Manhattan in the 1980s, here’s a silly Viennese variant from the mid-‘30s starring the soon to be married operatic couple Jan Kiepura & Marta Eggerth, each handsome of face & voice. ( Now in her 90s, Eggerth still is.) They made dozens of light musicals before leaving German territories during WWII, but some may recall Eggerth as the star who briefly steals Gene Kelly from Judy Garland in FOR ME AND MY GAL/’42, so it’s doubly amusing to note how much Kiepura looked like Kelly. In this far-fetched version of the opera story, Eggerth plays a consumptive character who's actually cast to sing Mimi (of all roles) and manages to die onstage (for real!) just as the curtain falls. What a trooper! What an exit! The old print only gives glimmers of the great Franz Planer’s cinematography, but it’s an interesting treat for canary fanciers.

NOTE: Those intrigued might also like to check out Eggerth vs Garland in PRESENTING LILY MARS/'43 where she's so good they had to cut her big number and redo the finale to tilt the film back in Garland's favor.

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