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I am a classic movie fan to the "nth" degree. I have a question about the movie I just watched..

Humoresque starring John Garfield and Joan Crawford, I love the music, and Joan was her classic mean selfish self....love her.....John Garfield played a man who loved his violin and played beautifully. My question is ...Was John Garfield really playing or was it dubbed? Thanks Gahdalia

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I love HUMORESQUE.... I don't think Joan Crawford ever looked better plus I think this is her greatest performance.

 

Also the music is great and John Garfield does a terrific job faking the violin play even if the hands are those of Isaac Stern.

 

I also have the 20s silent version with Alma Rubens starring.... the story was apparently liberally enhanced for the Crawford/Garfield version.... all to great effect.

 

Message was edited by: drednm

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Franz Waxman received an Academy Award nomination for Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture for _Humoresque_.

 

What helps Joan's performance is that _Humoresque_ had been Crawford's first film after her Oscar-winning role in _Mildred Pierce_ . So with an Oscar in hand I think this gave her more of a sense of security with her acting talent.

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> {quote:title=RainingViolets101 wrote:}{quote}

> Never was Crawford more beautiful - her walk along the beach

> at the end and her descent into the surf was Crawford's Finest Hour...

 

Except when she tripped over Fredric March.

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"Remember the Maine" is good, scsu1975, but even on this site there may be some who don't get the reference to Fredric March, and I was going to mention that anyway, so:

 

In the original version of A STAR IS BORN, with March as Norman Maine and Janet Gaynor as Vicki Lester, March commits suicide by walking into the ocean, as Joan Crawford does in HUMORESQUE -- which is one of my favorite movies.

 

As a previous poster pointed out, Garfield had two violinists standing next to him, one doing the bowing and the other the fingering. Meanwhile, Isaac Stern was playing, and in some scenes Oscar Levant was accompanying on piano. Levant quipped that the five of them should go on tour.

 

Most of Levant's wisecracks -- many of them bitter in tone -- were original, such as, "I didn't make the world -- I barely live in it."

 

At least one, however, was lifted. When Paul Boray's childhood sweetheart asks Sid Jeffers what Helen Wright is like, Jeffers says, "She has a large alumni association." This was first said by Edmund Wilson about his lover, Edna St. Vincent Millay.

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I love HUMORESQUE, having been a working violinist who was something of a troublemaker myself, just like John Garfield. And for that reason, I don't believe the stories I've heard about John Garfield and the two violinists who are supposed to have played for him. True, Isaac Stern did actually play the music in the film, and you can see close-ups of just his hands playing the violin in some scenes.

 

But three people could never play the same violin -- get together with two of your friends and try it some time. Playing the violin is a very tactile endeavor. You not only have to hold the violin with your chin and shoulder, move the bow across the strings with your right hand, and finger the notes with your left hand (which doesn't hold the violin at all) -- you have to literally feel what you are playing. Your whole body becomes sensitive to the vibrations coming from the instrument. That's something three people can't fake.

 

I think John Garfield learned how to play the violin just well enough so he could look credible playing it in the film. Any time you see Garfield in close-up playing the violin, he is playing relatively simple passages that anybody could learn with a little coaching. Stern probably dubbed those passages later, but it wouldn't surprise me if Garfield did his own playing in some of those scenes.

 

In other scenes, there are obviously doubles playing for Garfield, but I think he did a little of the work himself in those close-ups. There's precedent for this -- Jane Wyatt spent four weeks learning the violin for her scenes in LOST HORIZON (1937) so she could look credible playing the instrument, but the actual music was dubbed later. Laura LaPlante didn't exactly learn to play the banjo for the 1929 version of SHOW BOAT, but she did learn how to finger the instrument well enough to look as if she were playing.

 

Okay, enough for now. We'll play some big Beethoven for next week's lesson . . .

 

Message was edited by: coffeedan (who literally loved the violin to pieces)

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Thanks for the info coffeedan!

I agree with you, I think he learned a little bit to pass in the closeups. John Garfield was truly an amazing actor and man. I really love the movies Between Two Worlds and Out of the Fog. Two rarer Garfield pictures that are worth looking into.

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It's useful to get the point of view of someone who actually knows something about musicianship. IMDb repeats the account of the two violinists flanking Garfield, but some stories pass into legend. "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend." -- THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE.

 

Clifford Odets was co-screenwriter, and no one could write dialogue the way he did.

 

Some of the lines have to be credited to Oscar Levant, who presumably knew whereof he spoke when he told Garfield what was necessary for making his debut:

 

"Who goes to debuts? Relatives and enemies. . . What are you going to play on, that fifty-buck fiddle? . . . You have to have some first-string critics there, that's important."

 

Garfield: "What about my playing, doesn't that count for anything?"

 

Levant: "Sure, you fill the lull between intermissions."

 

Message was edited by: faceinthecrowd

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This Odets script was written in the early 40s as Rhapsody in Blue, the Gershwin bio. It was rejected -- possibly by the Gershwin estate -- and a blander script was filmed as RIB.

 

Around this time Jerry Wald discovered the Odets RIB script in the Warners files. He had it rewritten for a violinist and renamed it Humoresque.

 

My favorite line in the movie was spoken by Levant: "It's not what we are but what we become that disappoints". Can anyone tell me if that line was a Levant original?

 

One day they were shooting a concert scene with Levant on piano, Garfield making faces, and two guys working the violin for him. Isaac Stern happened to be visiting the set, and between takes Levant asked, "Why don't the five of us go on tour?"

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Since Levant was a noted wit -- Google "Oscar Levant quotes" for a sampling -- my guess is that practically everything he said in HUMORESQUE was his own.

 

There is some controversy in this thread about whether Garfield was actually flanked by two violinists, but every reference I've seen appears to confirm that he was. It must have been a hilarious sight.

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Nice to see you here as well. I'll bet you've also heard the quote from Oscar regarding Joan's penchant for knitting between scenes. According to the biography, A Talent For Genius, one his first remarks to her on the set was, "Do you knit while you f**k?" I love that guy.

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I never heard that quip of Levant's (I had to figure out what the missing letters were, but I finally got it). I think I'm going to have to buy either the biography or, better yet, his autobiography, "Memoirs of an Amnesiac."

Without Levant the picture wouldn't have been nearly as memorable.

 

And let's not forget, as a curious footnote, that Paul as a child was played by Bobby Blake.

 

As to the director, Jean Negulesco also directed THREE STRANGERS, ROAD HOUSE, and, to get back to Zachary Scott (yay!), THE MASK OF DIMITRIOS.

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