|Directed by||William Dieterle|
|Produced by||William Dieterle |
|Screenplay by||Bertita Harding|
Ewald André Dupont
David T. Chantler
|Based on||novel by Bertita Harding|
Yvonne De Carlo
|Music by||Erich Wolfgang Korngold|
|Distributed by||Republic Pictures|
|15 July 1955 (UK)|
29 March 1956 (US)
Directed by William Dieterle, the film made extensive use of Wagner's music, which was arranged by Erich Wolfgang Korngold. Dieterle worked with Korngold on several Warner Bros. films, including A Midsummer Night's Dream and Juarez. It was one of the final films Republic made in the two-strip color process known as Trucolor.
Although many details about Wagner's life were accurately portrayed, the film often distorted some facts, apparently for dramatic purposes. One high point was the accurate depiction of the riot at the Paris Opera House for the premiere of the revised version of Tannhäuser. The film depicted King Ludwig II's patronage of Wagner, without going into much detail about the king's controversial personality.
The film used a very large cast, opulent sets, and lavish costumes. Since Republic was known primarily for westerns and adventure serials, Magic Fire was one of the rare "prestige" films to be produced by studio chief Herbert Yates. Nevertheless, critical response was mixed and box office receipts in the U.S. were disappointing.
Conductor Richard Wagner dreams of being a composer. He falls for actress Minna Planer.
- Alan Badel ... Richard Wagner
- Yvonne De Carlo ... Minna Planer
- Carlos Thompson ... Franz Liszt
- Rita Gam ... Cosima Liszt
- Valentina Cortese ... Mathilde Wesendonck
- Peter Cushing ... Otto Wesendonck
- Frederick Valk ... Minister von Moll
- Gerhard Riedmann ... King Ludwig II
- Erik Schumann ... Hans von Bülow
- Robert Freitag ... August Roeckel
- Heinz Klingenberg ... King of Saxonia
- Charles Régnier ... Giacomo Meyerbeer
- Kurt Großkurth ... Magdeburg Theatre Manager (as Kurt Grosskurth)
- Fritz Rasp ... Pfistermeister
- Hans Quest ... Robert Hubner
- Jan Hendriks ... Mikhail Bakunin
- Erich Wolfgang Korngold ... Hans Richter (uncredited)
Film rights were purchased in 1953 by William Dieterle, who had been interested in a film about Wagner for ten years. Dieterle had directed the film Juarez (1939) based in part on Harding's book The Phantom Crown. Dieterle wrote the script with David Chandler. Harding also worked on the script. Finance was obtained from Republic Pictures. Republic were expanding their production facilities at the time.
Howard Duff and Ida Lupino were originally considered for the leads. Charlton Heston was also discussed. Eventually the lead role went to Alan Badel who had just been in Dieterle's Salome (1953). Support parts went to Carlos Thompson, Rita Gam and Yvonne de Carlo. Thompson was borrowed from MGM.
De Carlo had discovered Carlos Thompson in Argentina and had him cast in Fort Algiers. The two had an affair and Thompson owed de Carlo money. Their relationship was over by the time they made this film though.
- Republic Pictures documentary
- Eyewitness account by Robert E. Nylund
- Fuller, Edmund (25 October 1953). "LIFE OF COLORFUL WAGNER". Chicago Daily Tribune. p. h6. ProQuest 178651161.
- Winwar, Frances (20 December 1953). "The Road Led to Bayreuth". New York Times. p. BR10. ProQuest 112678174.
- "Vanessa Brown's 'Moll' to Costar Guinness; Vocalists Aid 'Carmen'" Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 3 July 1954: 11.
- Smith, Cecil (5 June 1955). "Films Call to Author Bertita Harding Again: Writer Sells Second Book in 20 Years". Los Angeles Times. p. e3. ProQuest 166776998.
- Pryor, Thomas M. (17 August 1954). "REPUBLIC STUDIOS CONTINUE TO GROW". The New York Times. p. 17. ProQuest 112945293.
- HEDDA HOPPER: "Dieterle to Proceed With Wagner's Life" Los Angeles Times 17 July 1954: 12
- Schallert, Edwin (3 December 1953). "Drama: Bartley Film Readied for Deborah Kerr; Jory Big Menace for Taylor". Los Angeles Times. p. B13. ProQuest 166581204.
- "DIETERLE SHAPING MOVIE ON WAGNER". New York Times. 21 July 1954. p. 19. ProQuest 113068951.
- "MOVIELAND BRIEFS: Director Finishing Lavish Wagner Film" Los Angeles Times 27 Nov 1954: 13.
- "Yvonne De Carlo Will Narrate Foreign Film; Gobel Manager Irked" Ames, Walter. Los Angeles Times 30 Dec 1954: 22.
- De Carlo, Yvonne; Warren, Doug (1987). Yvonne : an autobiography. St Martins Press. p. 184.
- "MOVIELAND EVENTS: New Process Again to Enlarge Film" Los Angeles Times 27 Apr 1955: 26