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Welcome to the Movies!


  The Cast:    
Moishe Oysher ... Yoel Duvid Strashunsky
Florence Weiss ... Chana Strashunsky, his wife
Maurice Krohner ... Aaron, his father-in-law
John Mylong ... Stanislaw Maniusko
Helen Beverley ... Wanda Mirova
Mae Schoenfeld Baby Winkler ... Peretz Strashunsky
 Mae Schoenfeld Benjamin Fishbein ... Nute, the city sexton
Lazar Freed ... The city rabbi
Erika Zaranoya ... Jadwiga Godliewska, blond diva
Ivan Bussatt ... Director of the opera
Mae Schoenfeld Leonard Elliott ... Tilchinski, orchestra conductor
Mae Schoenfeld Max Willenz ... The Warsaw sexton
  Herman Blaß ... Margaret (Anderson's office nurse)
Omus Hirshbein ... Peretz's pal
Werner Bass ... The Pianist
Luba Wesoly ... Counteds Mirova
Manfried Lewandowski ... A Cantor
Alfred Durra ...  

Directed by Max Nosseck
Music by Alexander Olshanetsky
Written by Mark Arnshteyn (play); Ossip Dymow,
Jacob Gladstone and Max Nosseck.
First released in the U.S. on February 9, 1940.
77 minutes; black & white


The cantor of the Vilna Synagogue, played by the great real-life cantor Moishe Oysher, leaves behind his prayers to perform in the Warsaw Opera. He struggles to balance the appeal of his newfound fame and notoriety with feelings of guilt and responsibility toward his family and community. Featuring perhaps the most convincing scenes of synagogue life in any fiction film, Overture to Glory begins during the morning service on Rosh Hashanah and ends at Kol Nidre, making the story a kind of redemptive journey during the days of awe.

-- The National Center for Jewish Film


The following review appeared in the Brooklyn (N.Y.) Daily Eagle on February 10, 1940:

To the screen from Jewish legend, this time by was of Poland, comes the tragedy of a transgressor, the story of a gifted cantor in a Vilna synagogue who inspired the composition of the opera "Halka," and who left his people to climb to a foreign fame in Warsaw. With English captions translating J. Gladstone's Yiddish dialogue, it came to the Cameo Theatre last night to make its bow as "Overture to Glory."

It profits more from the presence of Moishe Oysher in its leading role, than it does from the scenario in which it was framed by Ossip Dymow. Similarly, it is more remarkable as a spectacle -- a category that contains very few Yiddish films -- than as an emotional drama. It is handsome to look upon and exceedingly pleasant to hear. Yet, only in fleeting moments does it have a convincing dramatic sweep. More often its most poignant scenes are either clipped short or are interrupted so that a dangling thread of the story can be picked up and tucked into the script. It is a problem of writing that Director Max Nosseck could neither remedy nor combat.

Moishe Oysher had better success. He made the most of Olshanetsky's lyric score, displaying again the brilliant voice that no so long ago supplied the most exciting moments of "The Singing Blacksmith." His followers -- and last night they filled the Cameo Theater, jammed the lobby and lined up in 42nd St. -- will not be disappointed. He makes an inspiring cantor, singing with fine, orthodox feeling. But when "Overture to Glory" must get along on its script, even with the support of an adequate cast featuring Florence Weiss and Helen Beverley, it is something less than compelling.

From the advertisement that appeared in the Yiddish Forward (Forverts) newspaper on February 11, 1940:

Moishe Oysher in the great musical film drama, created from the famous legend of the "Vilna Balebesel" -- "Overture to Glory (The Vilna City Cantor)," with original music by Alexander Olshanetsky. Original story by Ossip Dymow. Dialogue by I. Goldstein. Besides opera and folk songs, you will hear Moishe Oysher in "Kol Nidre," "Hineni Heni" ...

Cameo Theatre, 42nd St. E. of Broadway. 24 cents until 2 p.m.
Cameo Theatre under new management.

Here is a short video clip from "Overture to Glory."



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