DATELINE: Dangerous Moonlight!
Exasperating comments like “out-dated,” or “old-fashioned,” start to grate on our nerves more often nowadays. So, we did not take kindly to the Amazon comments about the 1941 movie Dangerous Moonlight.
The film stars the debonair Teutonic star Anton Walbrook, who always looks grand in a tux when he sits down at the piano to play “classical” music.
In this curio, he is a Polish composer—and the story revolves around Walbrook trying to finish his great creation while World War II and the Nazis decimate his homeland of Poland. He must go to the United States and do a concert tour to raise money to help Polish refugees.
Rachmaninoff reportedly declined the offer to write a composition for the movie character to compose. So, the British film classic went to studio composer Richard Addinsell who wrote the “Warsaw Concerto.” The film may be stunning for the music alone.
Daring in a way that today’s movies would never attempt, the first 14 minutes of the movie are basically the “Warsaw Concerto” being played to help Walbrook regain his memory lost in war—and explain how he met his wife. Movies about amnesia were big in 1941 with Random Harvest about another war hero with memory problems.
That the British film chose to make a film about an American girl who happens to be a millionaire who marries a Polish composer is a surprise too.
The music is so stirring and became so famous that it outrivals Rachmaninoff, though purists think of it as fast food classical music. When Walbrook sits down to play, the movie is a catalogue of audience reactions. Nearly 25 minutes of the 75-minute movie is given over to the music being played by a symphony or by Walbrook’s composer character.
In between moments of the “Warsaw Concerto,” he prefers to fly a fighter plane against Nazis in dogfights on suicide missions. It’s certainly true they don’t make movies like this any more. No one would dare to produce it.