The Toast of New Orleans (1950)

Genres - Musical  |   Sub-Genres - Musical Drama, Romantic Drama  |   Release Date - Sep 19, 1950 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 97 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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It's a little hard for most modern audiences to know what to make of movies like The Toast of New Orleans. The story is absurd and predictable, the characters at times are actively annoying, and contrivance is usually the order of the day. In its own time, the attraction of Mario Lanza and Kathryn Grayson made any such flaws beside the point, but opera -- which was even then not food for the masses -- has become so marginalized culturally that few today can appreciate either the voices or the style of the singers. However, for those willing to listen, the songs and arias presented herein hold a great deal of appeal, and Lanza, at least, is in superior voice. Grayson comes off a bit shrill at times, and inferior recording techniques sometimes affect the quality of her upper register. For non-opera fans, there's still a delicious David Niven, and Lanza, though a bit stiff, has virility and a certain flair. For her part, Grayson certainly knows how to do the imperious bit, and the two do have a nice oil-and-water chemistry. Overblown and kitschy in places, there's still an undeniable, schmaltzy appeal to much of New Orleans, especially the classic "Be My love" sequence and the big finale aria from Madame Butterfly.