Incredibly hokey, and more than a bit creepy, this one-off starring vehicle for ‘50s tv & nightclub phenom Liberace adds a half hour of piano specialties in remaking THE MAN WHO PLAYED GOD/’32, an antique vehicle for an old George Arliss & a young Bette Davis. Now, it’s Liberace who loses his hearing mid-concert, only to find new meaning in life playing deaf fairy godfather to strangers in the park by eavesdropping on their lives via binoculars & a newly acquired virtuoso skill at lip-reading.* A big flop in its day (note our pure desperation Double-Bill pressbook ad), it’s not so much bad as odd. (Okay, it’s also bad.) Even the piano playing’s odd. Pulling the rhythm like taffy on pop fluff is one thing, but playing classical party pieces with one foot on the brakes and one on the accelerator can leave you woozy. (One of the writers gets in a sly classical music joke when Liberace asks for requests and a grande dame snob calls for the Scherzo movement from Brahms’ Concerto in B-Flat Minor. A neat trick since neither of Brahms’ two piano concerti has a Scherzo movement, and the key is actually B-Flat Major. LOL - Oh, those Hollywood jokesters! Anyway, the request goes missing, substituted by variations on the Beer Barrel Polka.) Joanne Dru & Dorothy Malone are all glammed up with no place to go as rivals for Lee’s affection; you get the feeling he’ll always stay true to his Steinways, Bechsteins & Knabes.
SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: *Going deaf at 12 didn’t stop Evelyn Glennie from becoming the best known solo percussionist in classical music today. (But can she Boogie-Woogie in triple time?)