André Previn is mentioned in my previous blog. He worked on Valley of the Dolls.
A longtime respected friend and fellow musician enters with his protegé. Myra is polite, quiet and pretty but her politeness and quietness do not mean that she's passive. She is talented and spirited. When the maestro, who feels that classical music is basically a man's game, invites her to the piano, he says "You will play for me...and in tune perhaps..." See what I mean? A cut delivered with a continental charm. She changes the game by not caving in to his musical wishes. She does not play what he wants.
Myra faces him straight in the eye on his level and says, "....I play the 'Appassionata' by Beethoven."
The maestro replies, "I dare you."
I replayed that moment about half a dozen times because of Dorn's delicious delivery. It was so...so Claude Rains. Myra, of course, accepts the dare -- and she's marvelous.
That's the kind of physical fluidity and energy Philip Dorn displays in Borzage's film.
In my favorite Frank Borzage films, he champions "the little man" and there's a sense of spirituality in his direction. Not in the religious sense but in terms of a compassion, a good will that must struggle to break through like grass pushing up through cracks in sidewalk concrete. There's more at play than just two lovers facing adversity like poverty or war. Some of my favorite Borzage films are Man's Castle (1933), Little Man, What Now? (1934), History Is Made at Night (1937), Three Comrades (1938) and The Mortal Storm (1940). Little Man, What Now?, Three Comrades and The Mortal Storm were three of the best dramas Margaret Sullavan made during her early Hollywood years. The first woman to win the Academy Award for Best Actress was Janet Gaynor. Gaynor got her Oscar for three films -- Sunrise (1927), Seventh Heaven (1927) and Street Angel (1928). Frank Borzage directed Seventh Heaven and Street Angel. Overall, those are more well-known Borzage films than this 1946 production, but it's worth a look. By the way, he was the first person to win the Oscar for Best Director. He won for Seventh Heaven.
In I've Always Loved You, the "little man" is a husband. George has seen Myra's gifts onstage. He was in the Carnegie Hall audience to witness her artistry dazzle the crowd.
She has captivated audience members and stagehands alike with her musical passion. George adores and respect her talent.
Myra refuses to let her talent be dominated and overshadowed by the maestro, a man who bellows, "I created her. She's mine." When first they met, she found him rude. Then he took her to Europe as his student. Her feelings for him softened. On the stage, she is his match. She lets her passionate talent out. Myra plays Rachmaninoff like she's got wildfire in her fingers. Goronoff's sexist attitude is, "There is no woman in music. Remember, no woman in music." He'll later break down and reveal his love for Myra.
Mark Stevens starred opposite Olivia de Havilland in The Snake Pit.
I've Always Loved You present Catherine McLeod as Myra, the sensational classical pianist, and William Carter as George, the "nice boy" from the country.
McLeod's line and the commercial itself gained such pop culture popularity that they were lampooned in network music/comedy variety shows.
Frank Borzage's I've Always Loved You is an interesting and very entertaining film that is worth a look. In Borzage's world, a woman does not have to choose between married life and a fulfilling career. Instead, she can have both if she so chooses.
So, what's the Rachmaninoff connection? After she played Mariah in William Wyler's The Heiress, Vanessa Brown starred on Broadway in The Seven Year Itch opposite Tom Ewell. She originated the role of The Girl upstairs. Tom Ewell recreated his role in Billy Wilder's movie. The material was rewritten as a star vehicle for Marilyn Monroe.
If you're a fan of his work, I recommend seeing Frank Borzage's I've Always Loved You. This movie has got some zip to it. Dorn's vivid, colorful performance was a revelation. The music is fabulous. The Rachmaninoff music "shakes you" and "quakes you."
Has this Borzage feature ever aired on cable's Turner Classic Movies?