"The Great Mr. Handel"
At the Exeter
Although the picture has several weak points which may be pointed out, the English have done a god job in portraying the life of "The Great Mr. Handel." Many of its faults are due to the economy of its production, an economy which has undoubtedly been imposed more on British studios than on Hollywood.
Beginning with the depression in Handel's life--the period at the age of 37 when his fame and fortunes were at their lowest ebb--the film climaxes in the composer's intensive work on his masterpiece, the "Messiah," which was completed in less than a week, and returned him to the good graces of his adopted compatriots when it was produced in Dublin in 1742.
Its technicolor is excellent in spots, but the plot of "The Great Mr. Handel" is disjointed, however historically accurate. Economy of production shows up in such scenes as that in Foxhall, where the camera stresses the characters and no sense of the surroundings is given. The arias of the "Messiah" which are presented are mostly the female ones, and well done, but the lack of a good male voice necessitated the omission of several of the best parts.
The English producers missed out on something, too, when they presented Handel's prima donna, the notorious Mrs. Cibber (who was actually sold by her husband to another man), as a pious woman. The picture is saved by the excellent performance of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and the casting of Elizabeth Allan in a part which might have been spoiled by an opera singer.