Production and staging, the Robert Wright-George Forrest music and lyrics based on Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg’s music, and wide screen photography make Song of Norway a magnificent motion picture. Unfortunately, Andrew L. Stone’s screenplay imparts a frequently banal, two-dimensional note featuring a wooden performance by Norwegian actor Toralv Maurstad in this musical biopic.
It is not another Sound of Music but screenplay, even with its faults, is superior to the original stage play by Homer Curran.
Maurstad as Grieg, Florence Henderson as the cousin he marries and Frank Porretta as composer Rikard Nordraak, Grieg’s closest friend, are primarily required to sing – not bring deep psychological sensitivity to their roles.
Stone shot Song of Norway totally on location in Europe at an announced cost of $3.9 million and scenes follow scenes with an irresistible richness. Choreographer Lee Theodore’s staging of the musical numbers is smashing.
Harry Secombe gives a hearty, warm portrayal of the Norwegian playwright Bjornson, one of Grieg’s early benefactors, displaying a rich, strong voice; Robert Morley imparts a delicate villainy to a role as Schollin’s father; and Edward G. Robinson is kindly and concerned as the kindly and concerned old piano teacher.