Modern audiences may have little or no knowledge of Lawrence Tibbett, the star of Metropolitan, but he was quite well known in the 1930s as one of America's premier operatic voices. The early days of sound featured a number of opera stars on film, only a few of whom made an impression. Tibbett was one of those, although his screen success was relatively brief. Metropolitan demonstrates why, showcasing both his strengths and weaknesses. Clearly, his voice is his major calling card, and it is tremendous, a sturdy baritone of beauty and purity that was made for dramatic arias. He sounds absolutely magnificent in Metropolitan, and the film gives him plenty of opportunities to demonstrate his vocal prowess, which he does in spades. Like many opera stars, he is not foremost an actor, but he does better than many of his contemporaries. He is stiff, and he doesn't have the range that one might desire, but he acquits himself nicely. His acting persona, however, doesn't seem varied and engaging enough and he doesn't have onscreen the same level of charisma that he is reported to have had onstage. And it must be admitted that his looks work against him. He's not an unattractive man, but he doesn't have the leading man profile that film requires. Metropolitan works as a means of showing off the singer, but the script itself is "same old, same old." Co-stars Alice Brady and Virginia Bruce are quite good, and the physical production impresses.
by Craig Butler review