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THAT MIDNIGHT KISS/THE TOAST OF NEW ORLEANS (MGM, 1949-50) Warner Home Video

Few earthly superlatives suffice in summarizing the exceptional force of nature that was Mario Lanza’s singing voice. That vocal strength belied his diminutive 5 ft. 7-inch frame. When he sang, whether operatic arias or pop tunes expressly written for the movies, his fans did more than swoon; they remained spellbound in awe and admiration. Much has been written about Lanza – the man, and, the entertainer – born Alfred ‘Freddie’ Arnold Cocozza; his infrequent womanizing, quite incongruous when discussed alongside his obvious devotion to his family; his bouts of paralytic depression and self-loathing that manifested through chronic binge-eating and drinking; his occasionally angry determination to triumph – perhaps misconstrued as vanity - that often infuriated costars and directors alike. Yet, like all truly unique and divinely inspired talents, Mario Lanza’s gift to the world was born of a desperate need to be loved, and, of a fervent desire to succeed in spite of himself; his own hap…

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