Mr. Imperium

Mr. Imperium (UK title: You Belong to My Heart) is a 1951 romantic musical drama Technicolor film made by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, starring Lana Turner and singer Ezio Pinza. It was directed by Don Hartman who co-wrote the screenplay with Edwin H. Knopf, based on a play by Edwin H. Knopf. The music score is by Bronisław Kaper. Lana Turner's singing voice was dubbed by Trudy Erwin.

Mr. Imperium
Directed byDon Hartman
Produced byEdwin H. Knopf
Written byDon Hartman
Based onMr. Imperium
play
by Edwin H. Knopf
StarringLana Turner
Ezio Pinza
Marjorie Main
Barry Sullivan
Music byBronislau Kaper
CinematographyGeorge J. Folsey
Edited byGeorge White
William B. Gulick
Production
company
Release date
  • March 2, 1951 (1951-03-02)
Running time
87 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$1,530,000[1]
Box office$755,000[1]

In 1979, the film entered the public domain in the United States because Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer neglected to renew the copyright registration in the 28th year after publication.[2]

Plot

In Italy in 1939, a European man calling himself Mr. Imperium (Ezio Pinza) uses a ruse to meet an attractive American woman, Frederica Brown (Lana Turner). He eventually is revealed to be Prince Alexis, an heir to the throne and a widower with a six-year-old son. He nicknames her "Fredda", so she calls him "Al".

When his father becomes gravely ill, he must rush to be with him, but asks prime minister Bernand (Cedric Hardwicke) to deliver to Fredda a note of explanation. Bernand instead tells her the prince is gone for good, that this is his usual method of seducing and abandoning women.

Twelve years go by. One day in Paris, a cinema's marquee makes it clear that "Fredda Barlo" is now a movie star. Fredda's former love travels to California, where film producer Paul Hunter (Barry Sullivan) is now in love with her and proposing marriage.

Fredda decides to drive to Palm Springs to think about his proposal, as well as to decide which actor should co-star in her next film, about a girl who falls in love with a king. "Mr. Imperium" takes a room next to hers, and soon they meet and embrace. He explains the crisis that took place at home during the war and prevented him from looking for her. Now he wants a new life, and Fredda believes he could even portray a king in her film.

Bernand turns up, however, to say that his son is preparing to ascend to the throne. Mr. Imperium realizes he is needed there, so he must say goodbye to the woman he loves once more.

Cast

Soundtrack

Reception

According to MGM, the film earned $460,000 in the US and Canada and $295,000 elsewhere, resulting in a loss of $1,399,000.[1] Mr. Imperium was an entertaining film with a troubled release; it was the first of two musicals MGM attempted with South Pacific stage-star and former Metropolitan Opera singer Ezio Pinza. When previews with test audiences proved disastrous, the second film, Strictly Dishonorable, was put into general release first, but with the same unfavorable results. Mr.Imperium has an odd title, but the real problem with the film was Pinza as leading man. On stage in South Pacific, Pinza successfully appeared as a dashing, mature leading man; On screen, he came across as less of a matinee idol, and more of a “dirty old man,” to quote historian Donald L. Miller. Mr. Imperium played theatres mostly as a "B movie" second-feature, despite lavish MGM production, Technicolor, Lana Turner, and two pleasant Harold Arlen/Dorothy Fields songs, “Let Me Look At You” and “My Love and My Mule". MGM cancelled Pinza's contract after the box office failure of Mr. Imperium.

References

  1. "The Eddie Mannix Ledger". Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study Cite journal requires |journal= (help).
  2. Pierce, David (June 2007). "Forgotten Faces: Why Some of Our Cinema Heritage Is Part of the Public Domain". Film History: An International Journal. 19 (2): 125–43. doi:10.2979/FIL.2007.19.2.125. ISSN 0892-2160. JSTOR 25165419. OCLC 15122313.
  3. Billboard - 2 Jun 1951 - Page 74 Andiamo VICTOR 10-3391 — A lilt from Pinza's "Mr. Imperium" flicker is done handsomely by the basso with Fran joining him on the second chorus.
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