10 November 2011 4:06 PM, PST | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

Charlie Chaplin's City Lights and its live score opened Dan Pritzker's eyes to the possibilities of silent movies. But was choosing Louis Armstrong as his subject a step too far?

I was working on a screenplay about Buddy Bolden, "inventor" of jazz, when I went to a screening of the classic Chaplin silent film City Lights. Dimly lit beneath the silver screen was the Chicago Symphony Orchestra playing the score live. I'd never seen anything like it. By the time the Little Tramp restored the Blind Girl's sight, I had decided to write another film, a silent one about jazz that would be stylistically like films of the Chaplin era.

Bolden's career ended in 1907, when he was committed to an asylum. The concept of there having been an "inventor" of jazz seemed far fetched. Jazz, I figured, developed incrementally, over time. But what if there really was such a person? »

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