Waltzes From Vienna 1934 80 minutes B&W Cast: Esmond Knight: Johann Strauss, The Younger Jesse Matthews: Rasi Edmund Gwenn: Johann Strauss, The Elder Fay Compton: Countess Helga von Stahl Frank Vosper: Prince Gustav Robert Hale: Ebezeder Marcus Barron: Drexter Charles Heslop: Valet Betty Huntley Wright: Lady’s Maid Sybil Grove: Madame Fouchett Adapted from the play by: Guy Bolton Written by: Alma Reville, A. M. Willner Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock Production Studio: Gaumont British and Tom Arnold Films Viewing date: 3/16/19 Waltzes From Vienna is a costume drama of the era when Johann Strauss Jr is starting out as a composer of waltzes. This I understand is the only musical that Hitchcock did and he did it between projects to remain busy. The film focuses on Johann Strauss Jr and the film starts off with a horse drawn wagon of firemen racing to a café run by Ebezeder that is on fire. In the room above the café we see Johann, called Schani by his friends apparently, playing one of his compositions on the piano with his girlfriend Resi. She is the daughter of Ebezeder. The music catches the attention of a Countess Helga von Stahl across the street at a dress shop. There are several ladies in the dress shop who model the dresses and they are also drawn to Johann and his music, they swoon over him as they peer out the windows. Also in the café is Leopold, the baker of the café who is also in love with Resi and climbs up the fireman’s ladder to rescue Resi who is oblivious to the fire below and he and Johann fight over who will save Resi. Leopold wins out. As he lowers her down the ladder, Resi’s long skirt is caught in the ladder and torn off. Embarrassed, Resi runs in the dress shop across the street. Johann follows her with the skirt. Upon entering, Johann stumbles amongst the models and manages to hand the skirt out and it gets to Resi. When he stumbles out of the ladies dressing room, he meets the Countess who is smitten by Schani and wants to commission him to compose a waltz for her. Resi moments later finds Schani with the Countess and is immediately jealous. Later we see Johann Strauss senior at a rehearsal with his orchestra, where Schani is one of the violin players. They have a fight as Junior criticizes Johann Senior’s music. Upon which Senior suggests Schani play one of his compositions. Senior criticizes it as rubbish. Schani then decides to quit and go ahead with the composition for the Countess. The Countess has even provided lyrics to go with the waltz. Schani’s excitement about this new freedom and commission is dampened by Resi who says if he wants to marry her, he has to give up his music and become a baker at the café. However, upon seeing the lyrics, Resi changes her mind and let’s Schani go ahead with the composition. Later, Ebezeder, who believes Schani wants to be a baker takes him downstairs in the café to see the bakery and kitchen, while there, the sounds and sights of the bakers tossing bread and the sounds of the machinery inspire the timing and notes of his composition. He runs out to finish the composition. The piece is The Blue Danube. Schani presents the music to the countess who is thrilled with the finished waltz and wants to have it published by her publisher friend, and premiere it. Resi unbeknownst to Schani takes a copy of the music and wants to show it to Johann Senior to convince him to read it and play it. He dismisses it as rubbish and Resi runs out of the rehearsal chamber. There she can hear the waltz being played in another chamber, and entering it she finds Schani and the countess. Resi is jealous that Schani had taken the composition, which she thought was written and dedicated to her, and played it for the Countess. This destroyed Schani’s enthusiasm for the piece and runs out the chamber to chase Resi. The rest of the film deals with the romantic triangle and how they work out the relationships and the release of the music in a climatic concert where the music is debuted with great fanfare. This movie surprised me on a couple of levels. It has the look of a lavish production. It’s a musical of sorts, or really a film about the music of Johann Strauss Junior. So it’s not the kind of material one associates with Hitchcock. It’s not a thriller and more like the material of his early silent films of complicated romantic relationships. It has several bits of humor and visual gags that help tell the story. It looks like it could have been made in the 1940’s as the style of make-up is not to locked into the 1930’s silent films era. The source material for this DVD was in much better shape then Number Seventeen, it surprised me how good it looked. It’s wasn’t perfect, but it was another reason why I thought it could have been made in the 1940’s. It was well acted and produced. I doubt it’s another title I’ll revisit unless a better version comes out. It’s an interesting film and I’m glad I had a chance to see it and to see another side of Hitchcock. From what I read, it wasn’t a film he felt was his better ones. Next up is the The Man Who Knew Too Much. It’s a title I’ve not seen before, only seeing the later James Stewart, Doris Day version, so I’m looking forward to it.