DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

SONG OF NORWAY (director/writer: Andrew L. Stone; screenwriters: from the play by Homer Curran/musical story by Milton Lazarus; cinematographer: Davis Boulton; editor: Virginia Stone; music:  Roland Shaw; cast: Florence Henderson (Nina Grieg), Toralv Maurstad (Edvard Grieg), Edward G. Robinson  (Krogstad),  Christina Schollin (Theresa Berg), Robert Morley (Berg), Harry Secombe (Bjornsterne Bjornson),  Oscar Homolka (Engstrand), Frank Porretta (Rikard Nordraak); Runtime: 138; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Andrew L. Stone/Virginia Stone; Playhouse Video; 1970)

"A rare miss from one of my favorite directors, Andrew L. Stone."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A rare miss from one of my favorite directors, Andrew L. Stone ("The Decks Ran Red"/"Julie"/"Cry Terror!"). It's a dull family type of fantasy musical biopic, shot in the Sound of Music style. With 25 songs and 45 musical numbers, all on Norwegian composer Edvard Greig (Toralv Maurstad), it's listenable but hardly exciting. Too bad the composer lived a dull life, and though Stone to his credit tries to enliven things he still fails. The raising of tension whether or not Grieg could compose for his country an indigenous national music is just not enough to make the film more entertaining.

Song of Norway is based on the 1940's Broadway play by Homer Curran, and many critics say is an improvement on it. It's shot on some beautiful Norway locations, bringing its icy fjords, its majestic waterfalls and snow-capped mountains to life.

It traces Grieg's early life and his fierce struggle for recognition. It climaxes with Grieg's rise to the top, as one of Europe's most popular talents. 

Florence Henderson stiffly plays Nina, Grieg's loyal wife, his cousin and final judge of his songs. Edward G. Robinson is likable but a bit out of tune as a gentle piano salesman. Robert Morley chimes in as the pushy rich merchant father of Theresa (Christina Schollin), offering to be Grieg's patron if he marries his daughter.

Things get no lift from Stone's trite screenplay, neither from the unrewarding kitsch presentation nor from the wooden performance by Toralv Maurstad. Adding to the minuses, the story seemed to take an eternity to unfold. But, at least, the picture-perfect postcard scenery was worth looking at and would certainly be approved of by the Norwegian Tourist Office.

REVIEWED ON 11/16/2014       GRADE: C+

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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