Supported avidly by his mother and more reluctantly at first by his father, a working-class Austrian boy joins the Vienna Choirboys, where he proves to be unusually talented.
The standard initiation ordeals which new boys must endure at the hands of their seniors are intensified in his case because he has aroused the jealousy of Peter, the head chorister, by singing a solo which Peter had long sung himself. The fact is that Peter's voice is breaking, and with a broken voice often comes a broken heart.
But, encouraged by the director and all the boys, Peter begins to develop in a new role as composer and conductor.
PS: The quality of this movie is not great. The video size is small and it has hard-coded subtitles. Unfortunately I can not find a better copy HOWEVER I still highly recommend this film to everyone! I fanyone has a better copy, please make it available!
Vincent Winter ... Tony Fiala
Sean Scully ... Peter Schaefer
Peter Weck ... Max Heller
Hans Holt ... Director Eisinger
Bruni Löbel ... Frau Fiala
Fritz Eckhardt ... Father Fiala
Hermann Furthmosek ... Choirmaster
Denis Gilmore ... Friedel Schmidt
Hans Christian ... Choirmaster
Hennie Scott ... Ferdie
Gunther Philipp ... Radio Announcer
Walter Regelsberger ... Choirmaster
Director: Steve Previn
Runtime: 93 mins
Subtitles: Dutch (Hard-encoded)
Codecs: Mpeg1 (VCD)
I'll be brief. "Almost Angels" has always been one of my favorite live-action Disney movies because of the singing and the story. As a young boy, I enjoyed music (I still do), and always thought having an experience like Tony's would be wonderful.
Sean Scully, a stock Disney child actor, does an OK job as the older boy whose voice is changing. Not great, but OK. I do have to say that his choral directing technique needs lots of work, however; he would have benefited from some simple instruction.
The movie is delightfully family-safe. Some will love it, some will think it's cheesy (which it may be). If you like music, especially the Vienna Choir Boys, watch the movie. Don't watch it to be intellectually challenged or anything like that. Watch it for the entertainment value. The Boys Choir music is wonderful, the scenery is beautiful. It has a reasonably realistic storyline, and most of the actors do a fair job.
I would love to see this on DVD someday - I would buy it immediately. Until then, you'll just have to look for it at the video store or watch for it on the Disney Channel.
This movie seems to have quickly passed into obscurity as a piece of fluff worthy of no more consideration than a dated 1960s travelogue. So I considered it myself when first viewing it in the cinema, as a contemporary of Peter and the other older choristers portrayed, shortly before perceiving how precious it was to have enjoyed, even on a humbler scale and for only a matter of weeks, a similar experience. One could take such things (films and choirs) for granted in those days, but what a mistake that was: in the ensuing decades, boychoir after boychoir in America was sabotaged on whatever conceivable pretext proved most expedient. They are now a gravely endangered species, as little sympathy as that may evoke from people oh-so-concerned about endangered species of other kinds.
It was a movie, however, which I never forgot. I soon yearned to be able to see it again, and it has been quite galling to see it systematically neglected even in places which purport to specialize in offering Disney movies of the period. Finally finding it, I marveled at its authenticities: the fine music to which it treated the audience; the vocal training and technique which it adumbrated; the power and glory of possessing a beautiful treble voice, such that boys otherwise as eager as any to mature into manhood could shed tears at its passing. I doubt that any such genuine presentation would be considered viable for American audiences now. Surely such an attempt would be trivialized and bastardized today even to a much greater extent than perhaps it was then.
Popular attention is finally devolving, if belatedly and only as an issue of self-preservation, upon the legacy of incompetence which socio-political trends have bequeathed to the raising of boys in the past generation. I commend this film, and the institution which it shows, as one redress whose value, proved over centuries, remains undiminished and ripe for recovery.
This is an excellent movie, especially for those who enjoy listening to The Vienna Boys Choir. There is nothing better, as far as I am concerned, than listening to the soprano voices of a Boy's Choir. I myself, was once a choir boy, and enjoyed the many years that I sang in three different boys choirs. To this day, I still sing in a choir.
Back to my report on this movie. This Disney movie utilizes the world renowned Vienna Boy's Choir, as the bases for its plot. The movie itself, is not a best seller, but the singing throughout the movie is beautiful. I find myself rewinding the film and playing the songs over and over. The star of the movie is a young boy Tony Fiala, played by Vincent Winter, who wants to become a member of the choir. When his parents finally agree, he goes, but is put on probation. One of the Choirmasters feels that Tony is blessed with an exceptional voice. This does not go over very well with one of the senior boys, Peter Schaefer, played by Sean Scully. I don't want to spoil this movie for you, so you will have to see it to see how this all works out.
In another comment, which you can read on this site, it was mentioned that, and I quote: " there's a scene wherein several of the boys are required to dress as girls for a public performance!" In reading this statement, I feel that there are some overtones, that are not being said out loud. If the person who wrote this, (comment on the movie), had ever gone to a performance of the Vienna Boys Choir, he would've probably seen the boys (himself) dress up as girls. In each of the shows I saw, the boys had to dress as girls, so as to perform the small musical that they put on. It was always and accepted part of the performance, and we, the audience, never thought anything different. To me, I don't think it ever harmed any of those boys. In fact,I myself on one occasion, on a Halloween night in the fifties, got dressed up as the mayor of our city. I won first prize in our school function for my effort. I always thought that was so cool. Today, people are not as relaxed about these sort of situations, which is too bad.
This movie is an excellent movie that the whole family can watch. If you are able to get a copy, do so. They are hard to find. I was able to obtain a copy of it on "e-bay" and paid dearly for it. I have not regretted it one bit. I have also written to Disney to see whether they have any intention of making it into a DVD in the near future. The reply was not favourable at this time, but maybe in the future. I sure hope so. There are a lot of movies out there today that are not half as good as this film is, and they are already on DVD. So, I'm praying for a turnaround at the Disney Studios.
Walt Disney personally supervised the filming of "Almost Angels" and in so doing, invested the film with his own personal magic. Among other requirements, the central staircase at the Vienna Choir Boy's home in Augarten Park, Vienna, had to be changed, so that boys could enter into and disappear from scenes written into the script that called for a specific kind of stairs.
Although dated in some respects, the film is beautifully photographed, and of course the music is the main element, as well as the boys' charm. Actors chosen for the lead roles did not sing, but soundtrack and film were so well matched, most people are convinced they did!
An update of this classic is unnecessary, but it would be a terrific thing if this movie were re- mastered, digitized and released in DVD format!
* On its first (and possibly only) theatrical run, this film was shown as the second feature on a double bill with the 1962 re-release of Lady and the Tramp (1955).