I grew up on Mario Lanza records (my dad loved listening to him), but strangely, I've never seen any movies with him. Well, after catching this clip of him singing one of the greatest and most exciting tenor arias of all time, I wanted to see more. You see, very few tenors can actually sing this aria well, and to my great surprise, Mario Lanza is one of them. (This is a short version of the aria, cutting out the best part of it, but what is there is fun.) When Lanza sings straight, he really is good. When he starts scooping up to his notes and getting schmaltzy, well, it's harder for me to listen to.
So, on to That Midnight Kiss, which was Lanza's screen debut. It's light-weight, cheesy but sweet, fluff. It made me smile; it made me roll my eyes. Lanza co-stars with Kathryn Grayson, whose soprano voice is a bit of an acquired taste, and a bit ear-piercing on those super high notes they insist she hit. Plot was slight, but that was just fine. It didn't need plot. Lanza plays a truck-driving opera singer who is overheard by Grayson and given a chance to replace a famous (but obnoxious) tenor in their new opera house. There's minor romantic complications that inexplicably get resolved simply by seeing each other again. Very Hollywood. I have no idea what the title has to do with the movie. And, they spend the whole opera rehearsing Lucia Di Lammermoor only to perform something else (non-operatic) in the finale. Um, okay then. Glad you guys worked so hard on that duet!
Ignoring all that, what made this one fun was the cast. Jose Iturbi (as himself) gets the funniest parts, as does Keenan Wynn and Jules Munshin. Ethel Barrymore is under-used, but always a presence in any movie she's in. The two leads are fine, with Lanza earnest and likeable in his screen debut. There's a few opera arias sung for me to enjoy.
So, not one I'd want to own, but I'm definitely glad I saw it.