Individual Boy Choir Movies

HBC will list choir movies alphabetically here for ease of access. If you do not know the title, you can peruse the various country lists which may make them easier to find as the individual country lists are shorter than the overall films. HBC is listing documentaries along with the major feature films. We are including films about choirs as well as movies in which choirs are featured. This appears to be a topic which was of greater interest before the 1970s. We have noted few recent films about choirs, the British made for TV serial The Choir being a notable exception.

Almost Angels (Austria/United States, 19??)

I'm not sure about the title of the film shown here. One HBC contributor reports that there is a Disney movie in which an "all-American" boy joins the Vienna Boys' Choir, albeit Austrian. The film was entitled Almost Angels (1962). It was filmed entirely on location in Austria. It is the story of two Vienna choir boys who become best friends. They try to cover up the fact that one of them is losing his golden tones. It starred two boys who were quite busy child actors. One was Vincent Winter, a British actor, and the other was Sean Scully (who was the one also in The Prince And The Pauper). The story centers around Tony Fiala, who wanted to become a Vienna Choirboy, and Peter, one of the senior Choirboy. At first Peter does not like Tony because it seems like the choirmaster takes a liking to Tony and pushes Peter to the background. However, after an incident in which Tony takes the blame for himself rather than blame Peter, the two become fast friends. One reviewer reports, "Overall, it is a wonderful movie that gets you behind the scenes of what it is like being a Vienna Choirboy. I highly recommend it."

Angels with Dirty Faces (United States, 1938)

This is one of the better remembered films from the Dead End series. The Catholic priest in the film directs a church choir. It is, however, a very small part of the film.

Boys/Mal'chiki (Soviet, 1971)

We note a Soviet movie about orphanages and choirs. The main character of the movie is a boy Zhenya Prokhorov. First he lives in an orphanage located in a small village Lipovka. A Russian reader tells us, "I'd say the depiction of the orphanage is rather realistic." We have noted reports of very poor conditions at Soviet orphanages. We do not know much about thatm although we have begun to collect some information on orphanages. One fact that seems true is that children from orphanages were less likely to get into good schools and pursue university educations. The orphage in the film is depicted as a realtively pleasant place. The director of a boys choir boarding school, seeking talented boys, visits this orphanage and discover that Zhenya has a very good voice. He takes Zhenya to the boarding school. There Zhenya lives with other boys, learns music along with the usual school lessons like maths or geography and so on. Later Zhenya is chosen as a soloist of the choir and becomes popular. But later, after his voice breaks, he needs to forget about his former glory and to find his own way in music from scratch. This imaginary boys choir boarding school has many common points with Gorky Boys Chapel Choir or with the Big Children Choir of the USSR. HBC has some information on Soviet choirs.

(Le) cage aux rossignols (France, 19??)

The French movie la cage aux rossignols ("The cage with the nightingales") used choristers from the French boys choir Les petits chanteurs a la croix de bois (the Little Singers of the Wooden Cross). We have some information on the film or the story line. The scene here shows the choristers in an informal momment. It shows casual clothes commonly worn by French boys during the mid-1940s.

(The) Choir (England, 1998?)

One of the better productions about choirs was a recent BBC series called The Choir featured a noted young singer. This excellent production concerns the financial problem of maintaing a great cathedral. The dean of the cathedral decides the only way to save the cathedral is to close the choir. The choir master attemts to save the choir by opposing the dean before the choir's govenors. In the mean time he has one of the chorisers make a record which proves to be a popular success. There are several sub-plots to the film which diverge from the central story of the choir. The film provides information on formal choir costumes, English school uniforms, and English clothing styles in the 1990s. The Choir was shown in the United States as a multi-night mini-series, of course on PBS. The film introduced the world to the vocal talent of one young Anthony Way. Anthony is superb in voice and acting.

(The) Choir (Japan, 2000?)

An Australian reader writes, "The movie 'The Choir' was on our multi-cultural channel in 2002. Because all of the credits are in japanese, it is difficult to glean information about the movie. The movie is part of a series from the "Tales From The Orphange" range." The movie starts with Michio (stutters badly) sitting alongside his uncles sick bed. He his taking copius notes on his uncles health. Every time a nurse takes his uncles temperature or checks his heart beat, Michio writes it down and formulates it into a graph. The nurse comments on Michios uncle reaching the 'cross of death' and she rushes off to find a doctor. At this stage, Michio connects the graphs together and realises what the nurse meant when she spoke of the cross of death, all of the graphs cross over, obviously, this indicates a point of no return. His uncle then sits up in bed and talks to Michio before he collapses and dies. Michio has taken this very hard and runs from the hospital. Sometime later he is told that he will be enroled at a boarding school (unsure if Michio was living with uncle or not) and would be leaving straight away.

(Les) Chorists (France, 2004)

The French Film "Les Choristes" is a lovingly done remake of an acclaimed French film. The original title was "La cage aux Rossignols". It ran in Britain and the United States as "The Chorus"/"The Chour". The film is set in France during 1949. Clément Mathieu, a unremployed music teacher, is hired by Monsieur Rachin, the very strict principal of a correctional boarding school ( reformatory ) for boys. By introducing his pupils to music he changes their lives. The film features a choir from Lyons, les Petis Chanteurs de Saint-Marc. The reviews I have seen have been quite positive. A Dutch reader reports, "I was in Chartres (France) during the weekend and heard people speak well of ´Les Choristes´ by Christophe Barratier. The music in the film is stunning. The film is a competently told story of an inspirational teacher. There are several similar films. What makes this film rise above the other movies in this genre is the music. Viewers will take the haunting music with them and it lingers in the memory in a way that few film music tracts do.

Empire of the Sun (United States, 1987)

This is an American film set in Shanghai. However the main character is an English choir boy. The film begins with the choirm a dramatic device to stress the boy's inosence in contrast to what lies before him. The nusic is also an important aspect of this film. This is Steven Spielberg's film about 11-year-old Jim Graham, who sings at a British school in Shanghai and is somewhat bored with "The Good Life"-- until he is separated from his parents when the Japanese invade on December 8, 1941. Christian Bale does not do his own singing. (The real soloist is James Rainbird, and "Suo Gan" is performed by The Ambrosian Junior Choir, directed by John McCarthy.) But Bale displays profound ranges of emotion, and through his eyes we see both the fascination and the horror of war. If you have not seen Empire of the Sun, you must. Watch the picture from the Saturday Evening Post as it travels with Jim through his ordeals! Have you ever had a time in your life when you finally "lost it", as Jim did when the P-51 fighters attacked the Japanese camp? For me this was the climax of the film, the lightening appearnce of the sleak American fighter meant that the calvery was comingh. If you have seen the movie, did you know right away what the "bright light" was which seemed to go up from the woman's body? What DID it mean when Jim was trying to bring his young Japanese friend back to life--and suddenly he seemed to be doing CPR on himself? -- Be sure to let the video run until it fades to black-- so you can hear the wonderful theme chorus ('Exsultate Justi') by John Williams! The interesting costuming is at the beginning of the film. The blazers the boys wear with red piping look authentic enough, but I doubt if they would preform in them on Sunday--especially with grey shirts.

Going My Way - (US, 194?)

This wonderful film starring Bing Crosby included several scenes with a boy's choir of course led by Bing. It was syrely Bing's best perfiormnce. Again we do not know if the boys were actually in a choir or if the producer just recrited talkented boys.

(The) Great Caruso (US, 1951)

Mario Lanza in "The Great Caruso" appears with a boys' choir. I'm not sure if the boys were from a choir or just recruited to play the choral parts. Mario Lanza's tenor voice made this film one of the top box-office draws of 1951. What's more, it helped to popularize opera among the general public and to inspire two boys to pursue opera careers -- Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras. In the film, Lanza portrays the legendary tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921), who first rises to prominence in his native Italy, then earns critical acclaim in America. In imitating the power and majesty of Caruso's voice, Mario excels. Among the arias he sings are "Celeste Aida" (from Aida, by Giuseppe Verdi), "Vesti la giubba" (from I Pagliacci, by Ruggero Leoncavallo), and "Che Gelida Manina" (from La Boheme, by Giacomo Puccini). Lanza also sings popular selections and performs the Johann Sebastian Bach-Charles Francis Gounod version of Ave Maria with a boy choir. In a PBS television special, acclaimed opera star Domingo, one of the "three tenors," said the 1951 film truly inspired him when he was a boy growing up in Mexico, and that Lanza "was a superstar before that word was even invented." Carreras, another of the three tenors, dedicated one of his albums to Lanza. Ironically -- because of hard living, debilitating stage fright, and an unruly temperament -- Lanza himself never joined an opera company, and opera critics generally snubbed him as an undisciplined lout even though he became the first opera singer to sell more than 50 million albums. "The Great Caruso" won an Academy Award for best sound recording and an Academy Award nomination for best music and best scoring.

Lord of the Flies (England, 1963)

This is surely one of the most provocative films about boys ever made. It is in the same genre as The War of the Buttons, but much more powerful. This is a very powerful and dramatic movie. The acting by the boys is excellent, the writing is effective, and the location shooting is superb. The plot is about a group of English private prearatory school boys, including a choir, stranded on a deserted island when the airplane they are on crashes. All of the adults are killed and except for the very end, adults play no part in the plot and do not appaer. The film is based on the acclaimed novel by Sir William Golding and the film lives up to the book--unusual nowadays. Some of the boys attempt to resist the descent to barbarity, but the boys slowly revert to the primitive--led in this case by the choir. With many kids surviving, but no adults Ralph (James Aubrey) initially takes charge to the dismay of Jack (Tom Chapin), who wanted to be the leader. Eventually, Jack has enough of Raplhs leadership methods (order, discipline, rules etc), and decides to go it alone. Soon most of the kids have gone to Jacks 'evil' camp. Without any adults in the party, civilization soon disapears as Jack imposes his rule leading to the theft, torture, and murder. It doesnt take long for these well behaved kids to turn into savages, that are capable of anything. Most of the boys wear English short pants school uniforms at the beginning of the film, including caps, ties, blazers, short trousers, and kneesocks. They slowly discard their hot woolen clothes. Mostly non professional actors were used for the boys who had a real romp on the island during the filming. James Aubrey, Tom Chapin, Hugh Edwards, Tom Gaman.

Figure 1.-- The French film 'Moineaux de Paris' is a comedy drama (1952). It featured an actual choir--Les petits chanteurs ā la croix de bois, the choir which revivded the French boy choir trdition. Iy is not a dcumentary but provides a useful vie of life in the choir.

Moineaux de Paris (France, 1952)

The French film 'Moineaux de Paris' is a comedy drama (1952). The English translation is 'Sparrows of Paris'. It was directed and written by Maurice Cloche. The film starred Jean-Pierre Aumont and Louis de Funčs. It provides a view about life in a French choir during the 1950s. The plot is about a choir who sings for a rich American family. In the past, many choirs were supported by important families, like aristocrats, and boys performed for the family during various private events. In this film, one boys saw the Madame of the house wearing a necklace, and he thinks it is owned to his grandmother. He tries many ways to take the necklace. Along the way, a ghost French soldier helps him with his work. While the plot is fiction, life in a boarding choir is depicted in the film. It featured an actul choir--the Les petits chanteurs ā la croix de bois. This was the choir which revivded the French boy choir trdition. The boys wear the school uniform all the time , with rare exceotions. For example, they wear similar pyjamas to sleep. They also wear the aube sometimes. The boys always tuck their hands in their sleeve, even when they are not singing. There is also one scene when the boys visit a doctor, and he removes his sweater. A man holds the sweater. This happens a few times in the film. This film show that in the past, boys were not treated very well, unlike today. There is also an ugly scene where a boy is carried by his waist to receive a beating. There are vrious other scenes. The choir also had a bus that they use to travel to sing. The songs they sing are similar to what French choirs sing today. The plot is a little like a comedy. And like mt films can not be used a a documentary. We can not be sure how much of what is presented can be accepted as historiocal fact.

(An) Orphan Boy of Vienna (Austria, 1936)

An Orphan Boy of Vienna is the touching story of an orphan boy who meets a street singer who gets him accepted by the Vienna Boys Choir. It is one of the few films in wich the Vienna Choirs Boys are involved. Orphan Boy of Vienna will be of interest mainly to boy choir historians and serious film collectors. It was produced in 1936, a year before the NAZI Anchhluss, by a company operating in Vienna and Amsterdam. This early musical was directed by Max Neufeld and features songs by the actual Vienna Boys Choir.

Perfect Harmony (United States, 1959)

The setting for this Disney production is 1959 South Carolina at Blanton Boys Academy. What is special about this school? Are you sitting down? Choir is considered to be as important as any other school activity! Bigots will not appreciate this film, because it shows how the love for each other's music-- brings together two boys of different race--during the dark days of racial prejudice. The academy boys do a great job of singing the classics. To really enjoy this film, you must try your best to forget Peter Scolari's role in "Newhart" and even more important-- forget the character of the boy in "Married With Children" which I rate as quite possibly the worst TV show ever produced in this country, and most certainly the worst show ever exported to other countries as an example of U.S. culture! "Perfect Harmony" seems to be currently out-of-print. - Length: 93 minutes.

Figure 2.--This is the Hungarian boy who becomes a Vienna Choir Boy with his sister Maria in "Der schönste Tag meines Lebens".

(Der) schönste Tag meines Lebens (Austria, 1957)

Der schönste Tag meines Lebens is about a Hungarian orphan, who becomes in the end a Choirboy at Vienna. [Note: There is a historical association between Austria and Hungary as they were for a long time unified under Hapsburg rule.] The film feature Michael Ande, who was a well-known star at that time, as main character.

Songs of Praise (England, 1961- )

A HBC reader writes, "I have been watching "Songs of Praise" for some time now and I am wondering why some of the boys in the Cathedral Choirs wear white vestments over their coloured robes and others do not. Could you please explain the reason for this." HBC does not know the answer to this question and would be interested in any readers can provide any insights for us. A HBC reader writes, "I have been watching "Songs of Praise" for some time now and I am wondering why some of the boys in the Cathedral Choirs wear white vestments over their coloured robes and others do not. Could you please explain the reason for this." HBC does not know the answer to this question and would be interested in any readers can provide any insights for us. A British reader responds, "Well, first of all it is not a movie. It is a programme of hymns which has been shown in Britain on Sunday evenings on BBC 1 television since 1961. It comes from a different church each week, so many different varieties of choir vestments have appeared on it. The BBC has a program page. And the answer to the question is that in many church and cathedral choirs Probationers only receive the white surplice to wear over the coloured cassock when they achieve the status of full Choristers."

(A) Swarm in May (England, 1983)

A Swarm in May was filmed at Rochester Cathedral and released in 1983. It was based on a child's book published in 1955 by William Mayne, one of the first he wrote. The boy's school story at the time was declining in popularity, despite this remarkable work. A 1982 edition was Illustrated by CW Hodges. The title comes from a rhyme about bee keeping: "A swarm in May is worth a load of hay; A swarm in June is worth a silver spoon; A swarm in July ain't worth a fly!" Unfortunately at this time I have no information on the actual film.

This Is Cinerama (United States, 19??)

The Vienna Boys Choir were featured in a segment of the first Cinerama film "This Is Cinerama". A few of the boys sang "Tales from the Vienna Woods", if I'm not mistaken, and the boys wore their regular clothes which included knickers, lederhosen, regular shorts and button up shirts. The segment had a silly staged look, but the boys sang beautifully. It was shot on the grounds of the school, I believe.

Unsere Schoensten Weihnachtslieder (Germany, 19??)

Finding U.S. Standard (NTSC) video of European boy choirs has been almost impossible until now-- but here is a NTSC Release of the famous TOELZER KNABENCHOR of Germany! This delightful video was taped in Munich and has HI-FI Stereo sound. There are eight selections and each one has the boys performing in a different 'formation' with colorful religious paintings in the background. The native costumes worn by the boys are unique. You will also find their manner of singing different, in that on some selections, the boys turn and smile at each other while singing--as if they were around a campfire. Some short solos are featured, and one piece features a duet with a second-camera shot of the featured boys being superimposed above-left of the other singers. The selections are Christmas-- HOWEVER, since they are traditional European songs (instead of "Deck the Halls With Rudolph's Shiny Nose", and are sung in German.

Wenn die Glocken hell erklingen (Austria, 1959)

Wenn die Glocken hell erklingen is about a choirboy, who visits is grandfather who doesn't know that he's got a grandson. He had banned his daughter from his home because she who went off with a friend he did not like. The film feature Michael Ande, who was a well known star at that time, as main character.

Unknown English film

An HBC contributor an recalls seeing the following on British television some time ago (probably in the late 70s/early 80s). It was a movie about a boys choir, in which the young singers were aged about 12 or possibly 13. They were standing in a row in front of their Choirmaster. What was particularly striking was that every second boy in the row was wearing black shorts and white kneesocks. Every other boy was wearing black long trousers, so the row of boys was made to resemble the keys of a piano. More precisely, the row of boys legs looked like piano keys--the legs of the boys in long pants were the black keys, while the bare legs of the boys in shorts were the white keys. The effect was really quite interesting, and it was obviously deliberately done. The boys shorts were in the very short style. The contributor wonders just how the boys were selected to wear long or short pants. They were all around the same age, so there was no question of only juniors being put into shorts. HBC notes that this may not have been an English film even though it was on English television. English boys did normally wear white kneesocks. It may have been French or German film. Sounds kike the choir had quite an interesting visual effect. I've never seen a choir do this before, although many choirs devote quite a bit of attention to the visual appearance of the boys like combing hair and neatly pressed costumes. Some have quite striking costumes, such as the Polish and Bulgarian choirs discussed in the expanded HBC site. What a shame no one remembers the movie or program or any specific details about the choir. I am a little skeptical about it being English. I know of no English choir where boys wore white kneesocks, or schools for that matter. The only time I have seen Engluish boys wearing white kneesocks is some of the Cubs who used to participate in Scout band competitions. Another British contributor to HBC also remembers seeing the television show, although she does not think it was a film. "From what I remember it certainly wasn't from a film. It was from a news magazine program that usually ended with a child soloist or children's group, band or choir performing. It is true that it is very rare for boys to wear white socks in Britain. Boys usually wear grey socks. White socks are usually for girls. Perhaps the white socks were just for performing. The program was definitely British. If is possible the choir could have been from elsewhere."

Unknown French film

I do not know what film the color images on the French choir movie page came from.

Unknown German Film

everal European choirs have been used in movies. The Vienna Choir Boys have been most frequently fearured in films. Several other choirs, gowever, have also been featured. Although there are quite a number of American choirs, they have not been used in films to our knowledge. The The Schoeneberger Saengerknaben has been featured in at least one film. It was a German film, although we do not yet know the title. We have little information about the film. The film does not appear to be about the choir itself, the choir only appeared in the film. There may have been only one scene and we do not know the context in which they were introduced in the film. We do not know if the The Schoeneberger Saengerknaben made any other films. The boys wear open collar white shirts with shirt black jackets and matching short pants. Notice the famous Berlin bear crest on the jackets. Also notice the boys' short hair cuts.

Unknown Polish film

An HBC contributor has provided some information on a Polish boys' choir film, but as it was in the Polish language, few details about the plot. HBC believes that the choir costumes portayed are authentic.


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Created: December 14, 2001
Last updated: 4:03 AM 2/16/2013