The Magic Bow (1946) Poster

(1946)

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9/10
Better than expected
calvertfan9 October 2002
The Magic Bow is usually known as the "worst" of the Gainsborough costumers - to call it that shows how very good all the others are, because this one is by no means poor, though the ending falls a little short. The actresses, who apparently hated the whole thing, don't let a bit of that show, although Stewart Granger looks a bit uncomfortable at times - perhaps the daggy long hair? The main three assume almost identical roles to those in Madonna Of The Seven Moons - Stewart Granger is perfectly content with his mistress Jean Kent until beautiful Phyllis Calvert comes on the scene - then it's watch out Bianchi! In this, he's a poor violinist and she's a noblewoman who falls for him, but is unfortunately betrothed to another, and can not get out of the situation. The whole thing is filled with some very lovely music, and is terribly romantic, probably more so than most of the other costumers. But, the plot is pretty thin, and Granger's performance is a little tired. 9/10 - raised an extra point by both the girls who really give it their all.
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7/10
Great film chronicling the life and times of famous Italian violinist Nicolo Paganini
Red_River16 July 2003
This movie is pretty a good costume drama from the Gainsborough stable about famous Italian violinist Nicolo Paganini, set in the 17th century around the time of Napoleon. The Film on a basic level, is a rags to riches tale and also includes a love story, various complications amount as a result. On a technical level I was really impressed with how Stuart Granger did all the violin finger movements and bow strokes himself, all seemingly in synchronization with all the musical selections played in the film. No double or close up shots here, ala Hurmoresque with John Garfield. He's quite convincing as the 17th century violinist. The music in the film is great and a real treat for anyone who likes the violin, (though I'm no expert here, just very pleasing to the ear). The title might be seen as a little misleading, as the bow isn't really magic at all, though I suppose some might beg to differ when talking about a Strativarious. This is definitely one of the better Gainsborough costume pictures. All in all a great film with good performances all around, and I'd give it 3.5 stars out of 5.

Just one postscript, if anyone is after a good read I can wholeheartedly recommend Stuart Granger's autobiography "Sparks Fly Upwards". His real life was as much of a drama and adventure as it was in any of his movies.
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6/10
Mr. Paganini, Sotto Voce
bkoganbing27 October 2009
The Magic Bow is the alleged story of 19th century violin virtuoso and composer Niccolo Paganini as played by Stewart Granger. Granger looks the part and plays it well, at least what I heard of it.

I'm not sure if it was the film or the VHS copy I saw, but the music score drowned out the players during much of the film. It would have helped to have been a lip reader and then only if the players were facing the camera head on. The great Yehudi Menuhin did the playing for Granger and if this had been one of his concerts that would have been just fine.

After consulting the Wikipedia article on Paganini I found the Magic Bow to be quite a work of fiction. The plot has Granger as the young violin prodigy, seemingly content with his music and mistress Jean Kent who is also a budding singer. But one sight of Phyllis Calvert, a noblewoman quite a bit above him on the social scale and Granger starts losing sight of his career goals. It also doesn't help that French nobleman Dennis Price is also interested in Calvert and he's willing to back his desires up with a sword.

The article contains no mention of Calvert or Price's character, but in real life Paganini and Bianca did have a kid out of wedlock before they broke up. In real life Paganini never married.

I'm reluctant to criticize a film knowing that it could be my bad copy, but if it was the original film with the heavy handed soundtrack, be forewarned.
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Additional omitted film credit
spitz-312 March 1999
Considering Leonard Maltin's brief review that the music overshadowed the story, it should be noted that the violin tracks were played by Yehudi Menuhin, and arranged into an exceptional introduction to that instrument for impressionable minds like my own at the time.
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10/10
Outstanding Acting
bellcurrier-857-67530426 November 2018
I am surprised at the ignorance of some reviewers. How easy it is to judge and criticize. The violin is a notoriously difficult instrument to play. Having played the viola myself, I can simply say that Stewart Granger's acting performance here is quite remarkable indeed. He himself came from a musical family; both his great grandfather and grandfather were both operatic singers. To have mimicked the stance and movements for these classical pieces must have taken Granger quite of bit of study. The actual music recorded by violinist Yehudi Menuhin was beautifully performed for this film. Stewart Granger was coached by the first violinist of the London Philharmonic, David McCallum over a period of three months of hard work. In most cases of this sort the camera pans outwards so that the actor is not seen to play the instrument. That Stewart Granger was able to supercede that challenge is a real testament to his brilliance as an actor.
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8/10
Great music in this enjoyable biopic of a great talent
SimonJack24 September 2017
Warning: Spoilers
"The Magic Bow" is a fictional account of the famous adult years of Italian composer and musician Nicolo Paganini (1782-1840). The movie is part musical biography, part romance, and part history. With some nice touches of light comedy, it's a very enjoyable film.

The comedy fits, considering the life and character of Paganini. While he had a reputation as a womanizer and gambler, he was something of a flamboyant performer. He was known to purposely break strings on his violin and then go on to play superbly. A scene in the movie shows two strings breaking and then his playing a number on just two strings.

Nicolo was a true musical genius with natural talent. No one could match him in his day on the violin. His advanced techniques have influenced violin virtuosi since then. But his musical genius far surpassed what this film portrays. He also mastered the cello and guitar, and composed music. Something else the film doesn't show was his acquaintance with prominent composers of the day, and his guest conducting for them at times. All that was in the later part of his life.

While the romance in this film with Jeanne de Vermond, and the contest of his winning the violin are fictional, they resemble some actual details in his life. A number of the other things the film shows actually happened, but at different times and places. His biography in the Encyclopedia Britannica doesn't mention a duel. A wealthy French trader lent him a Guarneri violin to play a concert. After hearing Paganini play, the merchant gave him the violin. In real life, Nicolo pawned his violin to pay a gambling debt. He did have a long relationship with the singer, Antonia Bianchi, and they had a son out of wedlock. His son, Achilles, toured with him later.

The character Luigi Germi, who becomes his manager in the film, is fictional. Nicolo's father taught him the mandolin as a young child and then started him on the violin by the age of seven. With his natural talent, he quickly surpassed all of his successive instructors in ability. His father traveled with him to get him started in his regional performances around Italy. Italy then consisted of several city-states, small monarchies and republics. He made his European tour of all the major capitals in 1828-1831, when he was age 46-49. After that, he toured England and Scotland and became wealthy.

The historical aspects involving Napoleon and the French annexation of part of Italy occurred as noted in the movie. For a few years, Nicolo was music director and violinist for the Baciocchi court at Lucca and then Florence. Elisa Baciocchi was Napoleon's sister. In 1827, Pope Leo XII made Nicolo a knight of the Order of the Golden Spur. Other great artists have been so knighted. They include painters Raphael (1483-1520) and Titian (1490-1576), sculptor Bartolomeo Cavaceppi (1716-1799), and composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791). The latter at age 14.

In 1833, Nicolo settled in Paris where he opened a casino. After it failed, he sold all his instruments to pay his debts. He had health problems in his later years. He quite performing in 1834 and moved to Marseilles and then to Nice, France. He died there in 1840 at age 58.

Apparently, Gainsborough had difficulty with the script in making this movie. The editing does show a little disconnectedness. But the production overall is very good. The acting is superb by all the main characters – Stewart Granger as Nicolo, Phyllis Calvert as Jeanne de Vermond, Jean Kent as Bianchi, and Cecil Parker as Luigi Germi. The camera work is outstanding, especially in showing Granger playing the violin. Granger had two instructors and does a remarkable job in appearing to play the music we hear. And of course, that music is divine. Famed American-born British violinist and conductor Yehudi Menuhin (1916-1999) recorded the music for the film.

This film is superb just for the music. But with an interesting story, a little bit of history and a superb cast, it's an outstanding film. It's a fair look at one of the great musical geniuses and outstanding violinists of all time.

Here are some favorite lines from the film. For more, see the Quotes section on the IMDb Web page of the movie.

Niccolo, "Forgive me; I'm in a bad temper." Jeanne, "Perhaps I could cure it." Nicolo, "I believe you could."

Nicolo, "Nicolo Paganini play in the street?" Jeanne, "Oh, at the time there would be nobody about to hear you." Nicolo, "No one to hear me? Musicians play to be heard, Mademoiselle."

Nicolo, "The name is Paganini, jailbird."

Nicolo, "With the violin, I can talk to the world. By God's will."

Luigi Germi, "Nicolo, what's the matter? You find the laurels harder to gain than you imagined?" Nicolo, "Germi. I'm a fool." Luigi Germi, "Good, it takes most of us a lifetime to realize that."

Jeanne, "Tell me, do all people who play the violin divinely have such bad tempers?" Nicolo, "Who else do you know who plays the violin divinely as I do?" Jeanne, "Nobody darling. Nobody."

Luigi Germi, "Nicolo Paganini, a knight?" Cardinal, "Exactly!" Luigi Germi, "I must be a much better manager than I realized."

Nicolo, "Your holiness. With your permission I should now like to play a piece of music which came to me when I needed a prayer, and which is especially near to my heart." Pope Leo, "Play my son. Your prayer may just be answered."
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7/10
Niccolò Paganini the devil's violinist !!
elo-equipamentos12 February 2020
I'm deeply upset about this fictional dramatization on real Niccoló Paganini's life, if someone is willing to make a biographic picture, is upmost importance focusi the real facts, it wasn't happened here, he never had a manager as implied on movie, never had any romance with Jeanne de Vermont and also never got a Stradivarius as wrongly exposed here , his father was his own manager, just small details are accurate as compulsive gambler and a womanizer, it's all true, Stewart Granger has a strong similarity with real character, even the sound coming from by the fantastic violinist Yehudi Menuhin, Stewart Granger never was dubbed on playing by anyone, he is enough skilled to play in the pass on the recorded music, also his posture with the violin seems perfect, the title isn't correct neither, The Magic Bow sounds that the violin was the major movie's star, instead the great virtuous Italian Paganini regarded the best and skillful violinist of all time, applying news techniques on violin, aside the fabulous performance of Stewart Granger and Cecil Parker and the marvelous Paganini's music worthwhile to see this picture!!

Resume:

First watch: 2020 / How many: 1 / Source: DVD / Rating: 7
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4/10
Slow-moving romanticized story of classic violinist...
dwpollar26 March 2001
1st watched 4/22/2000 - 4 out of 10 (Dir-Bernard Knowles): Slow-moving romanticized story of classic violinist named Paganini. The movie seems to want to woo the women and share the man's story but doesn't do either very well.
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