Opera haters, you’re missing out.

I went on a crazed movie purchase binge recently, and now the 1955 film Interrupted Melody sits atop my T.V. (Does anyone put their DVDs back in the cabinet? Really? Okay, never mind). Finally! This film is seriously underrated. Based on opera singer Marjorie Lawrence’s  memoir, it recounts her rise to, and later, her fall from fame after she contracts polio.

Interrupted Melody poster

Eleanor Parker was nominated for an Academy Award for this role, and with good reason: her performance was gripping, emotional, inspiring.

Eleanor Parker Interrupted Melody Delilah

Parker as Dalila in a scene from Saint-Saëns’ opera Samson et Dalila.

Parker’s voice was dubbed by Eileen Farrell, who insisted on going uncredited for the score.

Eileen Farrell

Opera singer Eileen Farrell.

Something to do with Marjorie Lawrence wanting to sing the score, and the producers not, and Farrell not wanting to steal her thunder. Pretty selfless if you ask me.

eleanor parker carmen

I read that Parker actually sang on set to make the scenes more realistic. It worked. All of the opera scenes are spectacular, but their collaboration on Carmen was my favorite.

Glenn Ford also delivered an excellent performance as Thomas King the doctor, Lawrence’s love interest.

glenn-ford-interrupted melody

But his character grated a little on my nerves. He bordered on sexist at times, wanting her to stay home as much as possible and make babies, wanting her to sacrifice her 6 month tour (which isn’t that long), the opportunity of a lifetime, to keep him company. And the film seems to agree, because she contracts polio during the tour. “I’m such a fool,” she says, weeping, as Tom gazes down at her immobile form. As if to say, if she had just stayed home and made babies with Tom like a good wife should, instead of gallivanting all over South America, this would have never happened. Hello! When you’re a world-renowned opera singer at the height of your career and love what you do, some compromises have to be made. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m sure it’s challenging being spouse to a celebrity. She made sacrifices. He just didn’t appreciate them. 

But I digress. I haven’t read the book, so I don’t know when she contracts polio. Therefore, I can’t assume anything. Plus, later on he makes up for being a jerk.

On doing research, I discovered that Eleanor Parker passed away this past December. She was 91. The Baltimore Sun wrote a short but warm tribute on her passing.

12 Classic Films for the Bucket List (Before You Kick It)

Snap out of West Side Story. Ditch Gone with the Wind. And don’t even think about playing Casablanca. They’re already on hundreds of lists. Why rehash the obvious? It’s boring. So without further ado:

1. Lilies of the Field (1963) Based on the novel by William Edmund Barrett, the film follows the story of a wandering jack-of-all trades (Sidney Poitier) who comes across a group of German nuns convinced he’s been sent by God to build them a church. I love this film.

2. My Man Godfrey (1936). A ditzy socialite (Carole Lombard) hires a hobo living in the dump as the family’s butler, then promptly falls in love with him. Whether he returns the affections is more doubtful, especially considering the utterly irrational in-laws he would be stuck with …

 3. Bringing Up Baby (1938) A prim paleontologist (Cary Grant) wants a sponsor to donate one million dollars to his museum, but messes it all up after getting mixed up with a harebrained woman and her leopard. My first screwball favorite.

 4. Rebecca (1940). Joan Fontaine plays a young, naïve bride tortured by the lingering presence of her husband’s deceased first wife. And also by the super creepy Mrs. Danvers.

5. To Have and Have Not (1944) This was Bogart and Bacall’s first film, and smolders with chemistry. Bogart rents a charter boat to tourists in Martinique and is asked to smuggle out resistance fighters. He refuses, but then has a fateful encounter with a pickpocket. Bacall was 19 (19!) when she filmed this.

6. It (1927) Clara Bow has definitely got “it” in this silent film. She plays a strong, independent working female set on getting what she wants … one of which happens to be the company’s head honcho.

7. Interrupted Melody (1955). This film is based on the life of Australian opera singer Marjorie Lawrence, who was struck by polio at the height of her career. It has fantastic famous opera scenes and stars the talented and gorgeous Eleanor Parker (the evil baroness from The Sound of Music).

 8And Then There Were None (1943) Psychological thriller based on Agatha Christie’s mystery. Ten guests are invited to a house on a lonely island and are killed off one by one. It’s creepy and suspenseful.

9. Carefree (1938) What list is complete without a film starring the iconic Astaire/Rogers duo? This one involves a psychologist, hypnosis, and skeet shooting gone hilariously awry. (Shall We Dance is another good film, and features the catchy “potato, patahto” song.)

10. Gentleman’s Agreement (1947). Gregory Peck plays a journalist who decides to experience anti-Semitism firsthand by saying he’s Jewish for two weeks. It’s thought-provoking and gives a revealing look at anti-Semitic sentiment during the 40s.

11. Seven Chances (1925). Critics and hardcore classic film buffs rave about The General, but do you ever hear much about Keaton’s Seven Chances? It’s got great visuals, obvious when the hero runs down a canyon in the midst of rocks that look like giant meatballs. Plus he gets chased by an angry horde of wannabe brides.

 12. Naughty Marietta (1935) Another film for the opera fan, starring Jeannette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy. MacDonald plays a French princess who runs away to New Orleans to avoid marrying a stuffy old Spaniard. There’s a great scene with singing marionettes (they’re cute, really).