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Humoresque (1946), Joan Crawford

One of the best films in the career of Romanian director Jean Negulesco, “Humoresque” is an extraordinary romantic drama which bears a resemblance to film noir. It tells the story of a violinist (John Garfield) who falls in love with an alcoholic, neurotic socialite (Joan Crawford) – even if one could say that he rather used her money for his career ambitions. The music is superb, as you will listen to a lot of good classical music. As a matter of fact, the film received an Oscar for Best Music, even if both Garfield and Crawford deserved at least a nomination, too. In the cast you will also find Oscar Levant, the great pianist who made so many wonderful musicals in Hollywood! He was truly a genius. But returning to the plot of the film, what impressed me the most was Joan Crawford. She usually played dominant female characters in her movies and she excelled in this kind of roles. The scene where Helen (Crawford) commits suicide by throwing herserlf into the sea waves is superbly directed by Jean Negulesco, and the film has also a very good editing. Garfield was good, too, as the young musican who strives to have a career as a concert player. His strong will and ambition are obvious in this role, just like in other films (among them “The Postman Always Rings Twice”). His tempetuous love affair with a wealthy, but older lady is very well depicted. The combination of music and emotional close-ups is unforgettable. All in all, the story, the characters, the actors, the direction, the editing, the costumes, the settings, and the music – practically the entire film – are superlative, and I am proud of Negulesco, a native from my country, for making so many wonderful productions in Hollywood, with such skill and professionalism.

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