Grahame N's Web Pages


Pathéscope Monthly December 1951

Released by Pathéscope Ltd. in December 1951 on 9.5mm optical sound as T.9697 (9 reels)

One of the first 9 reel features issued by Pathescope in the UK. (First was "Candlelight in Algeria" in August 1951). The 9.5mm optical sound print runs about 74 minutes. Part of the series of better quality titles released on 9.5mm sound to help the sale of the new Pax 9.5mm optical sound projector and in preparation for the launch of the new UK made "Son" 9.5mm optical sound projector a year or so later.

Despite being issued as a nine reeler, the film still had to be cut by about 20 minutes. I haven't viewed my 9.5mm print for some time, but I recall most of the initial scenes by the river are cut and some of the later love scenes in the Italian Alps were also shortened. As far as I remember most of the concert remains, including of course the famous theme tune written by Nino Rota for the film.

I was told by a well known 9.5mm specialist some time ago, that Pathéscope optimistically printed more than a hundred copies of this title (it was a very popular film at the cinema and had been re-issued in 1950), but when the rights expired some five years later, only about 30 prints had been sold, the remaining copies having to be destroyed.

UK cinema poster

"THE GLASS MOUNTAIN" GB Feb 1949  A Victoria Film Production
 In charge of production: John Sutro
 Directed by: Henry Cass               Produced by: Fred Zelnik and Joseph Janni
 Photography: William McLeod & Otello Martelli
 Music: Nino Rota                      Played by: Louis Levy & his Symphony Orchestra
 Screenplay by: John Hunter, Joseph Janni & Henry Cass
 Additional Dialogue by: Emery Bonett & John Cousins
 Released by: Renown Pictures Corporation Limited
 (Re-issued in the UK in 1950 and 1953)
 98 minutes B/W "A" certificate (approx 74 minutes on 9.5mm)

Technical Credits:
 Production Manager: Theo Lageard         Art Director:    Terence Verity
 Assistant Directors: I.E. Agosti and Robert Asher
 Camera Operator:    Arthur Grant         Italian Advisor: E. Anton
 Sound Recordist:    John Myers           Music recording: A.E. Rudolph
 Assistant Editor:   Adam Dawson          Editor:          Lister Lawrance
 Made at Nettlefold Studios, Walton-on-Thames, UK
 Location filming at the Teatro La Fenice Opera House (Venice)
 RCA sound (Re-recorded variable density on 9.5mm)

 Michael Denison    - Richard Wilder      Dulcie Gray    - Ann Wilder
 Valentina Cortesse - Alida               Tito Gobbi     - Himself
 Sebastian Shaw     - Bruce McLeod        Antonio Centa  - Gino
 Sidney King        - Charles             Elena Rizzieri - Singer
 Arnold Marle, Ferdinand Terschack
 Teatro La Fenice Opera House (Venice), Venice Orchestra and Chorus, 
  conducted by: Franco Ferrara

Musical numbers:
 "Wayfarer" (Vivian Lambelet & Elizabeth Anthony) first sung by Michael Denison
 "La Montanara" (Ortelli & Pigarelli) sung by Tito Gobbi
 "The Glass Mountain" (Nino Rota) sung by Tito Gobbi and Elena Rizzieri
 Opera sequences sung by Elena Rizzieri & Tito Gobbi of the Scala Opera House, Milan

"Shot down in Italy during the Second World War, Richard (Michael Denison), a composer, is helped by an Italian girl, Alida (Valentina Coretese). He falls in love with her. She tells him the legend of the Glass Mountain. When he returns to his wife (Dulcie Gray) in England, he writes an opera based on it. He goes back to Italy to see Alida, but returns to his wife for good after she has been hurt in an air crash. Rather slow love story boosted considerably by its striking direction, photography and especially music". (David Quinlan - British Sound Films) - he gave the film four out of five stars!

"World War 11 : Airman Richard Wilder, a successful composer, crashes in the Italian Dolomites. He is rescued by partisans and falls in love with Alida, a leading member . She recounts a local legend about two lovers meeting their fate on a nearby peak called The Glass Mountain. After the War, Richard writes an opera based on the story. He returns to Italy and fins himself torn between love for his wife or Alida." (Maurice Trace - Guide to 9.5mm Optical Sound Films)

"Beautifully made film of a British composer who writes an opera, inspired by majestic Italian Alps. A treat for music lovers, with many singers from La Scala appearing in opera sequence." (Leonard Maltin's Movie and Video Guide)

Pathéscope Film Catalogue 1952

Just before World War 11 a budding composer (Michael Denison) and his wife (Dulcie Gray) (actually married in real life) find their dream house by the Thames. In the war as an RAF pilot, he is shot down over the Italian Alps and nursed by an Italian girl. (Valentina Cortese). Whilst he learns of the story of "The Glass Mountain" they begin an affair. After the war, the airman returns home and resumes life with his wife. She senses something is wrong and suggests he return to the Alps to finish his opera based on The Glass Mountain legend. Naturally the affair resumes but he finishes the opera. During its first performance (with Tito Gobbi singing the lead) news comes that his wife's plane has crashed over the mountains. He rushes to her side and realises that long-term love is better than short term lust!

A very popular film at the time of release, specially with the ladies - because of the war, a large proportion of the UK population had had extra marital relationships of varying intensities, so I guess they could identify with this basic story of love and illicit lust! The music is good too, by Nino Rota (not 'Rita' as on the DVD box!) - I remember as a young teenager buying an early stereo 45rpm EP of the Mantovani Orchestra with Rawicz and Landauer playing this and other film themes. (Wore it out testing my home built stereo set up!) - Listen to the piece from that 45rpm E.P. record below. Oddly we didn't ever hire this title on 9.5mm sound, I guess it wasn't in the film libraries that we used. It was much later in life that I got a 9.5mm sound copy for my collection.

gln/June 2008.

Listen to the Mantovani Orchestra with Rawicz & Landauer on pianos as they play "The Legend Of the Glass Mountain" -

Extra notes: 
   1. Many sources record the original running time as around 96 minutes.
      However the British Board of Film Censors record the original print
      they passed (Cert "A") ran for 107 minutes and 10 seconds.
   2. The leading roles were taken by husband and wife Michael Denison
      and Dulcie Gray - who were still appearing together on the West End
      stage almost 30 years later. (Michael died in July 1998; Dulcie in
      November 2011 at the age of 95).
   3. The title music ("The Legend of the Glass Mountain") became very
      popular. Composer Nino Rota later won an Academy Award for his work
      on "Godfather Part Two".
   4. The Spring 1999 isuue of the Group 9.5 magazine commented that the
      9.5mm release was "Something of a coup for Pathéscope as the film
      had just been on re-release at the cinema. It is said they printed
      over a hundred copies on 9.5mm sound, but when the rights expired
      some five years later, only around 30 copies had been sold, the
      remaining prints having to be destroyed". Edward Wilkes, assistant
      sales manager at Pathéscope, told Paul van Someren that, on the
      final day of the lease, some reps arrived at Cricklewood from
      Renown to collect the master print negative and deal with unsold
      copies. He recalled over 40 Nine-Five prints being consigned to
      the incinerator.
   5. The American PCA (the film industry's censors) initially found
      the film "unacceptable because of an adulterous relationship
      treated without adequate compensating moral values" and suggested
      two scenes to be cut. However, after representations from Renown
      Pictures, the PCA dropped all objections.
   6. Location filming at the Teatro La Fanice (Venice) and in the
      Dolomites. The Glass Mountain is La Gusela in Passo di Giau in
      the Veneto Region.
(Extra information from 9.5mm researcher 'extraordinaire' Maurice Trace)

Watch the title music from the film on You Tube:

. A full length, 95 minute (says 86 minutes on the box!) version of "The Glass Mountain" is now available on DVD from Renown Pictures Ltd / Simply Home Entertainment in the UK. (Simply Home Entertainment are a new set-up formed from DD Video which went bust a few years ago). I doubt if your local DVD shop will stock it; try Amazon or Moviemail ( ) Sadly there is nothing else on or with the disc. Price around £9.99

Despite the pack stating 'restored and remastered' - the source is obviously a rather average tape master. (A credit says "Photography: BFI". I hope this just refers to the photos on the DVD pack!) Whilst the image is fine for a TV it was sadly a bit soft on my 6 foot screen (that is 6 foot x 4 foot), but OK at 4 foot. Although rock steady vertically (computer corrected?) and quite clean, there are frequent horizontal picture distortions, very obvious in places which presumably indicates tape stretch or a knackered replay deck. Maybe at least the vintage master tape could have been rewound a few times to overcome a bit of the stickyness which often causes this problem. I checked my vintage off-air VHS which is probably slightly sharper and better graded, and no picture distortions, but has noticeable vertical unsteadiness; it's also a bit noisy (I needed an aerial pre-amp!). So whilst it is maybe worth getting this DVD to encourage further releases (and of course if you have never seen this excellent film), don't sell your Super 8mm or 9.5mm (even better if you have 16mm or 35mm!) copies!

Renown intend to release some others of their earlier UK titles - maybe things like "Things Happen At Night" also released as a 9 reeler on 9.5mm optical sound. Even at a 10,000 pressing, they are going to net at least £25,000 for each release - surely its a bit mean not to fork out a few hundred quid for professional digital transfers? After all, this will be presumably be the only chance to view these other long forgotten British feature films on a digital format. Pity Ted Turner didn't get involved with UK film history - now he has retired will American TCM product still be as good? (gln circa 2008)


Created:March 2004 ........ Last updated:18 May 2019 ........ 95flmcatt9697.htm .......... ©MM1V Grahame L. Newnham
18May2019 - Mantovani E.P. record track added from YouTube