Johann Strauss Jr. (Esmond Knight) is the son of the famous conductor and composer, and plays the violin in his father's orchestra. He hasn't had any of his own compositions performed or published because Strauss Sr. (Edmund Gwenn) sternly discourages it. Not dismayed, Strauss Jr gives singing lessons to his gifted sweetheart Rasi (Jessie Matthews), the daughter of a pastry chef, and dedicates all his songs to her.
Then he meets a Countess (Fay Compton) who has written some verses and asks his help in setting them to music. When her husband, the prince (Frank Vosper), hears from a servant that a young man is upstairs with his wife, he storms into the music room, but the name of Strauss placates him. Later, Rasi isn't so easily placated, for she senses a rival.
However, the Countess essentially has Strauss Jr's best interests at heart. With a publisher friend, she successfully plots to have the elder Strauss delayed one night so that Jr's new composition, "The Blue Danube," may receive a performance. Strauss Jr. conducts the waltz himself, becoming the sensation of Vienna. Soon afterwards, though the Prince's suspicions have briefly been aroused again, everyone is finally reconciled.
Hitchcock was not particularly fond of Waltzes From Vienna. He accepted an offer by producer Tom Arnold to make a film of a stage spectacle by Guy Bolton that had run for a year in London. (The original source was German, the basis for the 1933 film Waltzerkrieg). He soon regretted it. He decided this wasn't his type of material and took out his frustrations on the film's hapless stars by indulging in practical jokes and cruel sarcasm. Jessie Matthews, Britain's ascendant young musical performer, suffered as much as anyone at his hands. To make matters worse, the budget was tight, and Hitchcock was anxious to keep on schedule. Often cast and crew worked far into the night.
While Alfred Hitchcock himself did not consider Waltzes From Vienna one of his masterpieces, others have found the movie "rather charming" and no serious Hitchcock collection should be without it.
Shot in 1933 B&W by Gaumont-British, G.F.D., UK. Aka "Strauss' Great Waltz". Music by Johann Strauss the Elder & Johann Strauss the Younger. Stars Jessie Matthews, Esmond Knight, Frank Vosper, Fay Compton and Edmund Gwenn.
Waltzes From Vienna has never been released commercially in the US and is believed to be in the public domain. We have obtained a very good copy of this great classic and with our state-of-the-art equipment we make available a limited number of excellent reproductions. 78 minutes. $35. DVD. US shipping $1 first class. International us$3.