Almost Angels (also known in the UK as "Born to Sing", in Austria and Germany as "Ein Gruss aus Wien" ("A Greeting From Vienna"), and in Japan as (in English) "The Blue Danube") is a 1962 Disney film about a group of boys in the Vienna Boys' Choir.
The film shows the choristers recruitment process, the rehearsals and the life in the institution as well. The story also conveys the value of friendship, honesty and loyalty.
The child actors were actual members of the Vienna Boys Choir who perform several traditional Austrian songs throughout the motion picture. The filming took place in the Augarten Palais, the surroundings of Vienna and some other places of the beautiful Austrian landscape.
In the United States, the film was released as the second half of a double bill. The first feature on the double bill was the 1962 re-release of Lady and the Tramp.
Tony Fiala (played by Vincent Winter) is a working-class boy whose greatest desire is to become a member of Vienna's most famous choir. His father, however, is reluctant about such idea, since he wants his son to follow in his own footsteps as engine driver. Unlike his loving and supportive mother, Tony's father also sees no future for the boy in music. Despite the objections, Tony manages to join the Vienna Boys' Choir. Once there, he meets Peter (played by Sean Scully), who is the leading boy in the choir and the first and most experienced solo voice, so when Peter finds out that Tony has a wonderful clear treble voice, he immediately feels threatened by the talented new boy. Peter's jealousy will prompt him to do everything in his power to ruin his rival's public performances and good image as a boarder to the point of endangering Tony's life. The sabotage will eventually end but the break in Peter's voice will change the events drastically.
Vincent Winter as Tony Fiala
Sean Scully as Peter Schaefer
Peter Weck as Max Heller
Hans Holt Director Eisinger
Bruni Löble as Frau Fiala
Fritz Eckhardt as Herr Fiala
Denis Gilmore as Friedel Schmidt
Hennie Scott as Ferdie
Hans Christian as Choirmaster
Hermann Furthmosek as Choirmaster
Walter Regelsberger as Choirmaster
Songs and Music
The film takes advantage of the story itself to present traditional Austrian and German songs performed by the children. Besides the Lieder, there are some international scores and instrumental music:
"Kaiser-Walzer" (Emperor Waltz by Johann Strauss Jr.)
"Heidenröslein" (Little Rose of the Heath) by Heinrich Werner / Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Unidentified piece for piano and oboe by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
"Wohlan die Zeit ist kommen" from Ludwig Schubart
"Der Lindenbaum" (Am Brunnen vor dem Tore) by Franz Schubert / Wilhelm Müller
"Tra la la, der Post ist da" (The Postman) by Rudolf Löwenstein
"Omnes de Saba Venient" (Graduale by Joseph Eybler)
"Kindersinfonie" (Toy Symphony by Leopold Mozart)
"Lustig ist das Zigeunerleben"
"Das Hennlein Weiss"
"Guten Abend, Gute Nacht" (Good Evening, Good Night) by Johannes Brahms
"Greensleeves" (Traditional English Song)
"An Der Schönen Blauen Donau" (Blue Danube Waltz by Johann Strauss Jr.)
- Produced and released more than two years before The Sound of Music and six years after Sissi - The Young Empress, Almost Angels uses the same formula of combining a family story, beautiful scenery, beloved music and Austrian local customs and traditions.
- Although it had limited distribution in theatres, the movie aroused the interest in choral institutions and in the Vienna Boys' Choir itself.
- Almost Angels was telecast broken up into two parts on the Disney anthology television series. The film was released on DVD as part of the Disney Movie Club.