Review: ‘Rhapsody in Blue’

Those who knew George Gershwin and the Gershwin saga may wax slightly vociferous at this or that miscue, but as cinematurgy, designed for escapism and entertainment, no matter the season, Rhapsody in Blue can't miss.

Those who knew George Gershwin and the Gershwin saga may wax slightly vociferous at this or that miscue, but as cinematurgy, designed for escapism and entertainment, no matter the season, Rhapsody in Blue can’t miss.

The years have certainly lent enhancement to his music, and the glib interplay of names such as Otto Kahn, Jascha Heifetz, Maurice Ravel, Walter Damrosch and Rachmaninov (all of whom are impersonated) lend conviction to the basic yarn [from a story by Sonya Levien] of the New York East Side boy whose musical genius was to sweep the world.

Robert Alda plays Gershwin and makes him believable. Herbert Rudley as Ira Gershwin is perhaps more believable to the initiate, looking startlingly like the famed lyricist brother of the composer, but young Alda, a newcomer, makes his role tick as the burningly ambitious composer who is constantly driving himself.

Oscar Levant as Oscar Levant can’t miss, and he doesn’t here. He has the meatiest, brilliant lines and whams over the titular Rhapsody in Blue and Concerto in F with virtuosity and authority as befits a real-life confidante of the late composer.

1945: Nominations: Best Scoring of a Musical Picture, Sound

Rhapsody in Blue

Production

Warner. Director Irving Rapper; Producer Jesse L. Lasky; Screenplay Howard Koch, Elliot Paul; Camera Sol Polito, Merritt Gerstad; Editor Folmer Blangsted; Music Leo F. Forbstein (dir.); Art Director Anton Grot, John B. Hughes

Crew

(B&W) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1945. Running time: 130 MIN.

With

Robert Alda Joan Leslie Alexis Smith Charles Coburn Oscar Levant Albert Basserman

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