The Making of 'Mary Poppins
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“You cannot capture a man’s entire life in two hours. All you can hope is to leave the impression of one”.
Deep in My Heart (1954)
As the last in MGM’s series of composer biopics, Deep in My Heart featured all the good and bad traits of the quartet of films. A lead actor with limited musical talent, lavish production numbers showcasing MGM’s roster of stars and a fictional plot that could fit on the bulb of a conductor’s baton.
Released just three years after Sigmund Romberg’s death, the film traces his life from café pianist to Broadway composer, detouring long enough for a touch of romance. His own conflict between writing tin-pan alley songs for musical revues or composing operettas for Broadway plays is reflected in his personal life, as the mother of his beloved derides the low-brow nature of his work (as opposed to Gilbert and Sullivan). Despite his successes, it is a triumphant concert at Carnegie Hall that finally provides a personal validation.
These characters are endearingly self-effacing, with Romberg mocking his lavish spending and failure as a producer while his wife juxtaposes scenes from his plays with the realities of life. But it is all undone by Jose Ferrer’s ingratiating performance, who appears to be acting under the mistaken belief that his own enjoyment in the role will immediately rub off on the audience. In direct contrast, the performances in the musical numbers outshine the material they are designed to showcase.
If only the filmmakers adhered to Romberg’s own advice when he stated “…in our screen plays we … try to make our songs and music contribute to the story’s development”.
as Sigmund Romberg
as Dorothy Donnelly
as Gaby Deslys
as Oscar Hammerstein II
Many pivotal characters in the film are fictional, including Frau Mueller (played by Helen Traubel), Ben Judson (Jim Backus), Harold Butterfield (Douglas Fowley) and Bert Townsend (Paul Stewart).
Romberg never contributed to a play titled 'Jazzadoo'.
Romberg never wrote a song for Gaby Deslys.
'It' featured in the play 'The Desert Song', not 'Artists and Models'.
'I Love to Go Swimmin with Wimmin' featured in the play 'Love Birds', not 'Dancing Around'.
'Mr. and Mrs.' featured in the play 'The Blushing Bride', not 'Midnight Girl'.
The lyrics to 'Leg of Mutton' were added for the film.
No mention is made of Romberg’s first marriage.
In his biography of Sigmund Romberg, William A Everett states… “Romberg was many things, but not a song-and-dance man.”
Biopic does not cover Romberg's career in films.