12 September 2009

Silver Screen

The old movies aren't always the best, but frequently they beat hell out of most of what Hollywood has to offer today.  Consider the Warner Bros. classic, Deceptionfrom 1946 starring the powerhouse trio of Bette Davis, Claude Rains and Paul Heinreid.  He is a virtuoso cellist, Rains is an imperious composer of world-class stature and she is the love interest of both.

Now, apart from the dramatic intensity these three bring to the picture, what struck me was Heinreid's masterful faux-playing.  It is unfailing that actors called upon to play instruments do so amateurishly, with halting, spastic movements -- if they even bother to move at all.

Not Heinreid.  

He bows and fingers  like Yo-Yo Ma, perspiration glistening on his forehead, deep in concentration.   Really quite astounding.  And it's critical, since the role requires him to be shown playing lengthy passages.

Since writing the above, I came across a this IMDB thread.  Somehow, I hope it's not true.


Nick Peters said...

I can't rememebr the name of the movie (New York, New York?), but I remember one in which Robert De Niro played a saxophonist. He reportedly spent several months learning proper fingering so that shots of him playing the sax did not have to be tight cutaways to someone else's hands.

Anonymous said...

Yes . . . it was 'New York, New York.' I saw it many years ago and have no real recollection, but judging from De Niro's immersion in other roles, it doesn't surprise me.

I should have also mentioned Bette Davis' playing as well. In one scene, she is at the piano and to judge by her hand movements, you'd suspect she was actually playing.