And continuing on with my movie reviews of Good, Bad and Ugly – today we have a real Norwegian nasty from the dark days of 1970.
The Song Of Norway (1970)
This light operatic stinker was adapted from the 1944 Broadway operetta hit about the famous Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg. Not unnaturally the movie was set to Grieg’s often bland compositions and then they were edited and rearranged by Robert Wright and George Forrest; who also wrote those lyrics that Mr. Grieg had somehow happened to overlook when he originally composed the music. Virginia and Andrew Stone (‘Julie’, ‘Cry Terror’) both produced and directed this non-start action movie, they photographed on actual locations in Norway and Denmark, where Grieg’s riveting life story actually happened – and then popped over to England to shoot some more scenes where it didn’t. Grieg himself was played by that electrifying star of the Norwegian stage Toralv Maurstad. Now there’s a name you’re not likely to forget. Or to be able to spell. Or pronounce probably. Anyhow, as good as a stage actor as Toralv was alleged to be, his performance in this movie was akin to a strategically shaved chimp suffering from terminal hemorrhoids that had been forcibly dragged onto a movie set to unwillingly perform under the promise of receiving 30 lbs of bananas as a reward.
There were a massive 45 – count them 45 – musical numbers and 25 songs. And as this cinematic turkey flickers in front of your eyes, one can’t help but be thrilled as various, and apparently congenitally hobbled European actors perform a twitching, uncoordinated and interpretative romp through endless vistas of picturesque Norwegian countryside. You really do need to watch this movie to get as sense of it awfulness of truly heroic proportions. The problem with any movie about Grieg, is well…Grieg. He was a person who, in real life, could have captained his countries Olympic boring team.
Pauline Kael of the New Yorker sums it all up far more eloquently than I ever could:
‘The movie is of unbelievable badness; it brings back cliches you didn’t know you knew – they’re practically from the subconscious of moviegoers. You cant get angry at something this stupefying; it seems to have been made by trolls’.
Trolls indeed. Rent it. See it. Shoot the TV.