This excellent, if fictionalized version of Frederic Chopin's life stars Cornel Wilde as the tortured pianist and Paul Muni as his teacher. A brilliant prodigy and a loyal Pole, Chopin is forced to flee his country when his anti-Russian activities prove dangerous. He and his teacher go to Paris, where he gains fame as a composer but falls under the spell of a ruthless Svengali (Merle Oberon).
If you are a classical music lover, this is the film for you. Chopin's works are beautifully played and his Heroic Polonaise in A-flat Major, No. 53 is given the spotlight. Wilde delivers a tender and passionate, Oscar-nominated performance (the movie received six nominations in all). He's dreamboat-handsome and this is the best role of his career. This could have been a five-star review, but I had to deduct one star for the horrible miscasting and buffoonish work of Paul Muni; his character was obviously meant to give some comic relief to a grim story, but he has more screen time than Wilde and spends it making ridiculous, annoying faces. Merle Oberon, as the writer George Sand, is a one-dimensional, cruel, witch and we are left to wonder why Chopin found her so irresistible.
But the movie is all about the music and that is glorious. I first saw this film as a child and never forgot it; seeing it again now didn't disappoint in any way. Recommended.