The Great Caruso (1951) starring Mario Lanza, Ann Blyth, Dorothy Kirsten, Jarmila Novotna directed by Richard Thorpe Movie Review

The Great Caruso (1951)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Mario Lanza in The Great Caruso (1951)

The Great Lanza

Loosely based on the life of Enrico Caruso. My knowledge of Enrico Caruso wouldn't even fill the back of a postage stamp and so I can't say just how much fact and fiction there is going on in "The Great Caruso" although seeing that the Caruso family successfully sued MGM for damages suggests there must be a few factual errors in the movie. For some the inaccuracies are sure to spoil the movie but for those just looking to be entertained "The Great Caruso" still achieves that.

So what goes on in "The Great Caruso"; well we watch how the young Enrico starts singing in a church choir being spotted singing when work as a flour merchant and going on to be a big star. Along the way there are some rocky patches especially when it came to women especially when the women he falls for have disapproving father's who either dislike that he is a singer or that he is a peasant. And on top of that we also see how being an in demand singer robbed him of his life as he was unable to do some of the things he wished to do. Of course there is more depth to "The Great Caruso" than that but it is a simplified look at the movie.

Now as a movie fan I have mixed feelings about "The Great Caruso" even though I found it entertaining. The positives are that there are some truly fantastic sets and director Richard Thorpe delivers a beautiful backdrop in every single scene, be it the streets of Italy to the stages of New York it is visually pleasant. There is also the not so little matter of Mario Lanza who looks like he is having a wonderful time and delivers an enjoyable character, as to how close to Caruso that character is, is another matter.

But here is my conflict as understandably when you have a biopic of sorts about a great opera singer starring another great opera singer of course there is going to be plenty of musical scenes and I imagine fans of Mario Lanza enjoy this greatly. But for me the number of musical scenes no matter how good they are out weigh the actual drama and narrative which is a shame as just a little less singing and a bit more story telling would have made "The Great Caruso" more than just an entertaining movie.

What this all boils down to is that "The Great Caruso" is entertaining and I can fully appreciate that those who enjoy the singing of Mario Lanza probably love this movie. But for those who watch out of a love of movies the balance between the music and the story telling is a little off.