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  Sincerely Yours Piano Man
Year: 1955
Director: Gordon Douglas
Stars: Liberace, Joanne Dru, Dorothy Malone, Alex Nicol, William Demarest, Lori Nelson, Lurene Tuttle, Richard Eyer, James Bell, Edward Platt, Guy Williams, Ian Wolfe
Genre: Drama, Romance, MusicBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: Anthony Warrin (Liberace) is one of the most successful pianists in the world, but he still has a dream as yet unfulfilled: he wishes to play Carnegie Hall, if only for one night. He is waited on by his manager Sam Dunne (William Demarest) and his secretary Marion Moore (Joanne Dru), but the former has noticed something about the latter, which is that she is in love with Anthony yet has never done anything about it. So the concerts go on in front of adoring fans, and Marion pines - has she left it too late? Because Anthony has now met someone else...

The image of Liberace now is of a piano playing dandy bedecked in sequins before a crowd of hundreds of little old ladies screaming their adoration, the epitome of showbiz kitsch, taking that sheen of sophistication in the music and drowning it in camp. But there was a time when those little old ladies had been, well, not young fans but middle-aged fans at least, and it was for them that Sincerely Yours was produced, at the time derided as absolutely ridiculous in its endeavours to jerk the tearducts but thereafter winning the hearts of yes, those diehards, yet also the connoisseurs of chintz from an era which certainly had its share.

Knowing what we know now, that Liberace was a homosexual gentleman no matter how he would sue the press if such a rumour was printed as fact, that he romances not one but two young ladies in this was enough to get audiences laughing as he made little effort to perform more butch for the camera, which makes you wonder if the potential love interests had any idea they were barking up the wrong tree - this wasn't Rock Hudson we were talking about. A mark of Anthony's desperation could be noted when he proposes to Linda Curtis (Dorothy Malone) within hours of meeting her, which would make most women suspicious but here is meant to be swooningly romantic.

That Anthony has just been coaxed up to play boogie-woogie in a nightclub (I say coaxed, he practically charges the stage) and from his position in the spotlight murmurs sweet nothings to a matronly old dear who is genuinely let down when he smooches Linda instead speaks to a rather confused character, but that's nothing to what will befall him soon after. Just as he is drawing to the climax of a concert, he notices his hearing is failing him and he cuts the performance short. Then he goes stone deaf, getting the bad news he has an ear problem which needs an operation - and he has a fifty/fifty chance of it working! Are you crying yet? Tears of laughter don't count, this is supposed to be emotional!

Anyway, Anthony learns to lipread which comes in handy when he whips out his binoculars and uses his privileged position to spy on the little people he can see in Central Park from his penthouse apartment. This is in no way creepy, of course, especially when a little boy catches his eye and he decides he would like to be part of his life, but in a benevolent fashion, showing what a great guy the pianist is by using his millions for charitable purposes. Ah, but the music, that was what most were here for, wasn't it? And we assuredly got an earful of that, as Liberace tickled the ivories with many a twiddle and flourish, ever the showman, racing through Chopin, Tchaikovsky and Gershwin with uncommon haste and bringing the house down even when he plays an embellished variation on Chopsticks - especially then, actually. For those most used to the Las Vegas glitz, they might be disappointed that a black sequined tuxedo was as far as the costume budget would stretch, but for lovers of dramatic camp, it was all here.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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