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Humoresque

Joan Crawford , John Garfield , Jean Negulesco    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 24.95
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The greatness of John Garfield was that he was a tough guy who wasn't afraid to wear his sensitivity on his sleeve. What makes this such a great film is that director Jean Negulesco and his two writers (including Clifford Oddets) construct a complex web of ambiguity around Garfield's own torment. He's a violin virtuoso from the slums of New York who rises to the top with the assistance of socialite Joan Crawford (who was never better). There's a sexual intensity to his art that she wants to possess, and there's a vulnerability behind her lacerating façade that he wants to expose. They play each other like a couple of virtuosos, stripping each other's spirit away. What helps transcend this depression-era class struggle is its cool sophistication. It's a sublime noir about loneliness. Everyone knows his dream has hit a dead end, except Garfield. He refuses to give up, even after his soul is long gone. --Bill Desowitz

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Playing second fiddle to Beethoven's ghost June 1 2004
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
That sentiment sums up the frustration and disappointment of Helen Wright [Joan Crawford] about her love for and obsession with violin virtuoso Paul Boray [John Garfield] in an excellent film blessed with great acting and beautiful music. Mrs. Wright becomes Boray's patron and gives his career a financial boost but becomes hopelessly drawn to her protege as his concert career takes off. The two principals circle each other warily, sizing up the other and lashing out verbally with accusations of ingratitude and selfishness with Boray holding fast to his dedication to his music while Mrs. Wright begins a slow but steady decline into drinking and depression. Boray's tunnel vision concerning his instrument does not allow him to appreciate the love Gina [Joan Chandler] has for him, nor can he grasp his mother's sage counsel and warning about his involvement with a married woman. The film has generous servings of music by Sarasate, Dvorak, Lalo and a brief but excellent recital of Franz Waxman's adaptation of "Carmen".
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5.0 out of 5 stars Joan Crawford's finest film and performance. Jan. 23 2003
Format:VHS Tape
Not only was Joan Crawford at the height of her beauty and glamour when she made Humoresque - she was also at the height of her acting ability, having just won the Oscar for Mildred Pierce. It would be unfair to say Humoresque is a better film than Mildred Pierce, considering how different the two films are. Mildred Pierce was gritty and dark and strived for harsh realism. Humoresque is romantic and tragic - beautifully written, acted, and filmed. There are moments in movies that linger in your mind a long time after viewing.. The finale of Humoresque is one of those moments. I'm certain I will never forget Joan Crawford's melancholy walk along the sea shore in the moonlight. It is one of the most artistic scenes ever captured on film...and all the emotion Joan goes through is genuine and deep. It is definitely a glimpse through to the heart of Joan Crawford, vulnerable and beautiful, defiant and strong. For in real life, Joan Crawford was never loved. And her character in Humoresque was, as Joan described, "a woman with too much time on her hands and too much love in her heart." Perhaps that was the real Joan Crawford, a woman clinging to her career and the fans that loved her, when nobody else did. People have long criticized Joan Crawford, but who would you be if nobody loved you?
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1.0 out of 5 stars fun to laugh at Dec 10 2002
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
To be fair, this is a perfectly awful movie. The main thing wrong with it is Clifford Odet's ridiculously pretentious, stilted, heavy-handed, and ultimately nonsensical script. But that doesn't mean you can't watch this and enjoy it given the proper (or rather, improper, irreverent) attitude. Certain of Odet's bizarre unintentional non-sequitors are hilarious. The incongruity of some of Oscar Levant's comic ad-libs are a treat -- though just one Marx brother is not enough. Garfield never learned to fake playing the violin sufficiently; so one violinist was enlisted to finger his violin and another to bow it. At times it is clearly apparent there are three men manning one violin, and the effect is both scary and amusing. (Isaac Stern plays on the soundtrack. Oscar Levant quipped, "After we finish this movie we should go on tour -- the five of us.")
Garfield as Paul Boray is thoroughly annoying throughout, and so is whoever it is who plays Boray's father. Levant stumbles over his lines at first, but gets better as the film progresses. Crawford does a fair job with her absurd lines. Boray's girl friend is very appealing -- pretty and played very well --, but rarely present. There is no original music, and the unoriginal music is all warhorses -- but nicely played. The cinematography is over the top.
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