New To DVD: Mario Lanza: The Best Of Everything

If there was anytime in history I would love to have been around besides this time, it’s definitely the golden era of Hollywood. Just having the chance to be around the age of the classical Hollywood actor and picture is something that I would think about for days at a time. It’s like the saying goes; there really is no business like show business. Old Hollywood is filled with stories of success and broken dreams alike. At almost every corner, there was somebody trying to make it big in show business. Mario Lanza was one of those somebodies and this is his story. 

Mario Lanza: The Best of Everything is a music documentary that tells the story of the rise and fall of a musical legend. Mario Lanza was one of the most famous tenors the world had ever known. His voice was big and powerful, rich and golden, with a dazzling top that thrilled everyone. He was a crowd favorite. Lanza inspired all the greatest tenors of the modern era – Pavarotti, Carreras, Domingo and Bocelli. Trained for a career on the opera stage, Lanza instead became the first true crossover artist when MGM made him a matinee idol during the 1950s with box office hits such as The Toast of New Orleans, The Great Caruso, and Because You’re Mine. He had it all but like most stars; he glowed so brightly the he ended up burning himself out. Lanza’s sudden passing in 1959 at age thirty-eight was one of the first tragic deaths of the modern pop and rock era – a glimpse of what was to come for many great artists battling to live with fame and its darker side. 

The Best of Everything serves as introduction to a man that many modern audiences don’t know. It is not an entirely comprehensive or in depth retelling of his life but it manages to paint a vivid portrait of who Lanza was as a man and as an artist. 

The story is conventionally told in a way that is compelling for both viewers who are unfamiliar and familiar with who Lanza was as a person. The talking heads featured in this documentary offer both musical and personal insights into the performer, which gives the film depth and character. We see his performances and see the range and beauty that is in his voice. I was impressed by his vocal range and skills. His voice is one that has so much potential that it makes his inevitable demise even sadder. This film serves as a conventionally beautiful look at a talented singer gone too soon. 

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-Liam S. O’Connor