|The Blue Danube|
Original French poster
|Directed by||Herbert Wilcox|
|Produced by||Herbert Wilcox|
|Written by||Miles Malleson|
by Doris Zinkeisen
|Music by||Alfred Rode|
|Edited by||Michael Hankinson|
|Distributed by||Woolf & Freedman Film Service (UK)|
The Blue Danube is a 1932 British romance film directed by Herbert Wilcox and starring Brigitte Helm, Joseph Schildkraut and Desmond Jeans.Its plot, based on a short story by Doris Zinkeisen, concerns a Hungarian gypsy who leaves his girlfriend for a countess, but soon begins to suffer heartache. The Blue Danube was made in both English and German-language versions.
In a Hungarian gypsy encampment, carefree Sandor (Joseph Schildkraut) lives with his beautiful sweetheart Yutka (Chili Bouchier). Into their lives rides a blonde countess (Brigitte Helm), with whom Sandor becomes infatuated.
Yutka soon flees from her faithless lover. Sandor roams the country, searching for his lost love, but finds her too late — she now wears furs and has her own aristocratic love—and Sandor returns heartbroken to his Romany encampment.
Herbert Wilcox later wrote in his memoirs that he made the film because he was frustrated from making a series of photographed stage plays. He wanted to make a "talking that did not talk - and without subtitles. Music, of course, was to be a dominant substitute for words or text".He decided to make a film with minimal dialogue.
Wilcox claims the reviews he received were among the worst of his career. However he said the film recovered its cost from screening in Australia alone.
In contemporary reviews, Frank Nugent in The New York Times wrote, "The chief merit of "Blue Danube," a British film now showing at the Fifty-fifth Street Playhouse, is its presentation of Alfred Rode and his Royal Tzigany Band, a group of eighteen Hungarian gypsy musicians. They play the famous Strauss waltz, some melodies by Liszt and a guitar song of Mr. Rode's composition. Not being a music critic, nor possessing one's technical vocabulary, this corner must be content to report that the selections are played in a manner that sets one's blood to pounding. But Mr. Rode and his band are not all the story of 'Blue Danube.' To be exact, they are little of it, and the rest is a sorry tale of poor editing, incoherence and an overwrought performance by Joseph Schildkraut." The critic concluded that "there is nothing in the film's acting, direction or tempo to arouse enthusiasm."
The Monthly Film Bulletin described the film as "very dated" and that it "must not be looked on as a typical example of Herbert Wilcox's production". The review concluded that neither the sound or photography were "up to modern standards".
More recently, TV Guide called it a "plodding Gypsy musical."
Romani music is the music of the Romani people, who have their origins in northern India, but today live mostly in Europe.
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Many fictional depictions of the Romani in literature and art present Romanticized narratives of their supposed mystical powers of fortune telling, and their supposed irascible or passionate temper paired with an indomitable love of freedom and a habit of criminality. Critics of how Romani people have been portrayed in popular culture point out similarities to portrayals of Jewish people, with both groups stereotyped negatively as wandering, spreading disease, abducting children, and violating and murdering others.
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