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Warner Bros. signed popular pianist Liberace to make this film with great fanfare. Ads proudly boasted, "Fabulously yours in his first starring motion picture!" They turned to a tried-and-true property to launch their new cinematic light. Jules Eckert Goodman's play The Silent Voice, about a concert pianist stricken with deafness who uses his newly developed talent for lip reading to help people he spots in the park outside his apartment, had been filmed three times before. It's most notable incarnation, The Man Who Played God (1932). starred George Arliss and brought Bette Davis to Warner Bros., initiating her rise to stardom. Liberace's version was less well-received or enduring. Although he played the piano with all of the verve that had made him a star, his acting was decidedly lacking. When critics tore into him and fans stayed away, the studio moved his billing to below the title. In some areas, ads promoted co-stars Joanne Dru, Alex Nicol and Dorothy Malone to the top spot, with a notation at the bottom reading "with Liberace at the piano." The film isn't really that bad. The plot holds up, even four decades after its creation, while leading ladies Dru and Malone are really pretty good. Nonetheless, it would be a decade before Liberace returned to the screen, with cameo roles in films like When the Boys Meet the Girls (1965) and The Loved One (1966).
By Frank Miller