Monday, January 17, 2011

Screen sirens singing

One of my favourite radio programmes is "Lauantain toivotut levyt" [The Saturday Wish Records], which started in 1935 and is the oldest continuous Finnish radio programme and one of the oldest radio programmes globally. The first half is dedicated to classical music and the second half to popular music. There are certain tracks that have in our country a special identity as a record likely to be heard in this particular programme from time to time. One such legendary record is "Warum?" sung by Miliza Korjus to the poem of Goethe, composed by Theo Mackeben originally for the motion picture Der Student von Prag (1935 version). It resonates in a special way as a record much listened to during the war years in our country. As a film scholar fond of Siegfried Kracauer's book From Caligari to Hitler I hear in this song aspects of a dignified German tradition that was almost crushed during the Nazi era. One of the earliest films discussed by Kracauer in his book is Der Student von Prag (the 1913 version), a horror film warning about our dark side. A pact with the devil can make a murderer out of an ordinary, decent man. "Warum?" is a song against brutalization.

Among the delights of the programme is the discovery of how many favourite music tracks are film-related. Well-known film theme songs resonate in a new way in this context. But there are also fine songs that have lasting value although the film itself may now be less known (at least I've never seen Boy on a Dolphin directed by Jean Negulesco in Greece)

In the first category in my inner soundtrack is now playing:
Marilyn Monroe: River Of No Return (Lionel Newman, Ken Darby) (1952)

And in the second category:
Sophia Loren & Tonis Maroudas - Ti 'ne afto pou to lene agapi (sung in Greek) (Takis Panagiotis Morakis, Gianis Ioanis Fermanoglou) (from the motion picture Boy on a Dolphin, 1957)

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