The Great Waltz
Called by some “The Great Schmaltz,” The Great Waltz is one of the most delightful of pompous, ornamental extravaganazas, based on the story of young Johann Strauss when he wrote waltzes for his passion, the prima donna Carla Donner. It was directed by Julien Duvivier at the start of his short American period, photographed in an appropriately dizzying swirl by Joseph Ruttenberg (who won an Academy Award), orchestrated by Dmitri Tiomkin, with lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein, and performed by an international cast including Fernand Gravet from Paris, Luise Rainer from Vienna, coloratura Miliza Korjus from Budapest, and our own Hugh Herbert.
It was Louis Mayer's penchant for Strauss that set the fire under this hot production by MGM, the studio which, wrote the New York Times reviewer in genuine admiration, “makes the most beautiful bores in the world. They are designed by Cedric Gibbons, gowned by Adrian, and have dollar-signs all over them. No other studio in Hollywood can build such ballrooms and fill them with such lovely, lacy ladies. No other studio makes such enchanting beer-gardens, with the moonlight just right and the dance floor perfection. No other studio can make so big a picture out of so small a script. Some day, we greatly fear, MGM will make so great a production that cast, script, director and all will be engulfed in it, swallowed up like Jonah by the whale.”