Song of the Flame

Song of the Flame
Directed by Alan Crosland
Written by Gordon Rigby (screen version & dialogue)
Based on Song of the Flame
(1925 operetta)
by Oscar Hammerstein II and Otto A. Harbach
Starring Alexander Gray
Bernice Claire
Music by (see article)
Cinematography Lee Garmes (Technicolor)
Edited by Al Hall
Distributed by First National Pictures[1]
Release dates
  • May 6, 1930 (1930-05-06) (NYC)
  • May 25, 1930 (1930-05-25) (US)
  • [1] ([1])
Running time
70 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English

Song of the Flame is a 1930 Pre-Code musical operetta film photographed entirely in Technicolor. It was produced and distributed by First National Pictures. It was the first color film to feature a widescreen sequence, using a process called Vitascope, the trademark name for Warner Bros.' widescreen process. The film, based on the 1925 Broadway musical of the same name, was nominated for an Academy Award for Sound Recording (George Groves).[2]


Lobby Card for the film.

Aniuta (Bernice Claire, known as The Flame, is a peasant girl who incites the people against the Czarist regime and the aristocracy through singing. Prince Volodya (Alexander Gray) is the leader of a group of Cossack troops who falls in love with the girl, even though she is part of a revolution that is opposed to his social class. Konstantin (Noah Beery) is a revolutionary who also falls in love with Aniuta, much to the anger of his lover, Natasha (Alice Gentle).

The revolutionaries succeed in overthrowing the regime, leaving the Prince and his aristocratic class in peril for their lives and fortunes. Konstantin becomes the new leader and his brutal treatment of the people make many regret having supported the revolution in the first place. After he attempts to seduce her, Aniuta flees to a village in her native Poland. The Prince, fleeing from the new regime, happens to arrive at the same village. When he meets the girl again he decides to stay. They put their political differences aside and become romantically involved.

Hearing from his spies that the Prince is at a Polish village, Konstantin immediately goes there and arrests him, announcing that he attends to execute him. Aniuta desperately attempts to free the Prince by agreeing to have sex with Konstantin. The Prince is released from prison through this ruse, but when is it discovered that she had no intention of keeping her side of the bargain, she is thrown into jail. The Prince disguises himself and attempts to free the girl, but he is discovered and imprisoned again. Before they can be executed, Natasha, revealing the real reason behind Konstantin's execution order, tells the troops to release both the Prince and Aniuta. Konstantin is arrested by the troops soon after as a traitor to the revolution, and is executed, leaving the Prince and the girl free to pursue their romance.

From left-Noah Beery, Alice Gentle, Alexander Gray and Bernice Claire in a scene from the film.


Cast notes:




The film is believed to be lost. Only the soundtrack, which was recorded separately on Vitaphone disks, survives. The extant sound discs from this film reveal a very high quality Vitaphone sound - round, warm, and clear with good sound effects and a quality reproduction of speaking and singing voices as well as orchestrations. It would seem it fully deserved its Academy Award nomination for Best Sound. All nine songs are preserved in the sound disc performances. There were four choruses as well, three of traditional Russian folk tunes and one drawn from Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker.

Stage musical

The stage musical the film is based on opened on Broadway at the 44th Street Theatre on December 30, 1925 and closed on July 10, 1926 after 219 performances. the music was by Herbert P. Stothart and George Gershwin, with lyrics by Otto Harbach and Oscar Hammerstein II, and book by Otto Harbach and Oscar Hammerstein II. The musical was directed by Frank Reicher, dances and ensemble pictures were arranged by Jack Haskell, and the scenic design was by Joseph Urban. The cast included Phoebe Brune as Natasha, Greek Evans as Konstantin, Tessa Kosta as Aniuta ("The Flame"), and the 52-member Russian Art Choir.[3][4]

Looney Tunes connection

Song Of The Flame is notable as the film which was accompanied in its initial release by Warner Bros.'s first ever Looney Tunes cartoon short, Sinkin' in the Bathtub.

See also



  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Song of the Flame at the American Film Institute Catalog
  2. "The 3rd Academy Awards (1929/30) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved 2011-08-05.
  3. Pollack, Howard (2006) "Song of the Flame" George Gershwin: His Life and Work, University of California Press. pp.368-74 ISBN 0-520-24864-3
  4. Song of the Flame at the Internet Broadway Database

Further reading

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