Great Waltz, The (1938): Oscar-Winning Biopic of Johann Strauss, Starring Miliza Korjus in Oscar Nominated Performance

One of the most popular films of 1938, The Great Waltz stars Miliza Korjus, the Polish-born coloratura soprano in her only Hollywood appearance, for which she was Oscar nominated in the supporting league.

Hoping she would become a major star, MGM created a great publicity campaign for Korjus, based on the line: “Korjus rhymes with gorgeous.”

This was the first of two films bearing the same title which told the life story of Austrian “Waltz King” Johann Strauss.

Fernard Gravet stars as Strauss, while MGM’s two-time Oscar winner Luise Rainer plays his wife, Poldi Vogelhuber.  Poldi suffers as her husband carries on an affair with opera singer Milza Korjus

However, husband and wife mend their differences shortly before being introduced to the court of Emperor Franz Josef.

In 0ne of the film’s most memorable scenes, Gravet and Korjus improvise “The Tales of the Vienna Woods” while taking a buggy ride in the country.

Dmitri Tiomkin adapted to the big screen the original Strauss, while Josef Von Sternberg (uncredited) helped French director Julien Duvuvier finish the movie.

Running time: 102 minutes.

Directed By: Julien Duvivier

Written By: Samuel Hoffenstein, Walter Reisch


Luise Rainer as Poldi Vogelhuber

Fernand Gravey as Johann Strauss

Miliza Korjus as Carla Donner

Hugh Herbert as Hofbauer

Lionel Atwill as Count Hohenfried

Leonid Kinskey as Dudelma


Oscar Nominations: 3

Cinematography (black and white): Joseph Ruttenberg

Supporting Actress: Miliza Korjus

Film Editing: Tom Held


Oscar Awards: 1



Oscar Context:

This was the first of four Oscars for cinematographer Ruttenberg.

The Supporting Actress Oscar went to Fay Bainter for Jezebel.

The Editing Oscar went to Ralph Dawson for Robin Wood.