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The Glenn Miller Story
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Reviews & Ratings for
The Glenn Miller Story More at IMDbPro »

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42 out of 46 people found the following review useful:

A competent musical heart warmer!

8/10
Author: Righty-Sock (robertfrangie@hotmail.com) from Mexico
5 January 2002

It is said that Miller could never remember precisely the moment he decided to emphasize his new reed section sound... But it was during this disheartening interim, that he realized the unique sound, produced by the clarinet holding the melodic line while the tenor sax plays the same note, and supported harmonically by three other saxophones - just might be the individual and easily recognizable style that would set his band apart from all the rest...

Photographed in color, Anthony Mann's 'The Glenn Miller Story' is purely a time trip to those years, when Glenn Miller's band ruled the record charts and anchored the airwaves... The film, beautifully captured Miller's spirit and follows his life story with reasonable fidelity... It is one of the most charming and touching musical biography...

Appearing in glasses and winning grin, Stewart kisses Allyson, holding her face lightly with his fingers, the same way he detains his trombone slide... Stewart applied his natural musical expertise, playing on the trombone... Miller's style was there. The original sound was there. The real music was there. The mix was there...

The film traces Miller's romance and marriage to his college sweetheart, Helen Burger, and his progress from a free-lance trombonist and arranger to band leader...

The pop music styles of '20s sweet and jazz bands were getting ready for the Big Band or Swing era of the '30s... About this time, Miller began writing charts that would one day to be his band's stock in fame, the clarinet "lead" sound over the saxophones... Miller's imagination, strong will, and determination kept his aspirations alive.. His music, a careful mixture of swing, jazz, and improvisation, flowed like spring with matchless string of hit records ( "Moonlight Serenade," "String of Pearls," "Pennsylvania 6-5000", "Little Brown Jug," "In the Mood," & "Chattanooga Choo Choo," among others...

The constant impact of radio broadcasts, and the drawing power at dance pavilions built and sustained the momentum of Miller's popularity...

June Allyson, who regularly played the little, lip-quivering waiting wife, again she is the petite and husky-voiced woman who, once married, is supportive and inspirational.. She finances Glenn what he needs to start his own band... Her scenes with Stewart have such a natural, easy-going on the screen, that we get completely drawn into their lives... Also featuring in the film are such legendary figures as Frances Langford, Gene Krupa, and Louis Armstrong...

With its unique jazz sound, 'The Glenn Miller Story' is a competent musical heart warmer with a well-cast star and successful reproduction of the Miller sound...

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27 out of 31 people found the following review useful:

A Quest for a Sound

8/10
Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York
24 June 2005

The Glenn Miller Story is a biographical tribute to a man who is always ranked as one of the great swing bandleaders of the late thirties to middle forties era. It is indeed fortunate that when James Stewart puts a pair of glasses on, he does actually look like the real Glenn Miller. I don't know what Helen Miller looked like, but I'm sure she was as supportive to her husband as June Allyson was to her screen hubby.

The Miller story begins with Stewart and pal Harry Morgan on the road as musicians. Stewart plays a slide trombone and has ideas of how the orchestra should sound as a whole. He spends a lot of time writing arrangements for the entire band. When they're not done right as is graphically shown in a scene when Miller's famous Moonlight Serenade is performed, he decides to form his own band.

He's still looking for that particular sound that he wants his orchestra to have and he chances on it in one of the more interesting scenes in the film. Swing fans when they hear it will recognize it as the genuine Glenn Miller.

One glaring fault for purists though is while the instrumentals are performed nicely, the vocal part of the Miller band is left out of the film. For whatever reason singers, Ray Eberle, Marian Hutton (Betty's sister)and most of all Gordon "Tex" Beneke are not in the film. In fact Chattanooga Choo Choo, Beneke's most famous number, is performed in the film by Frances Langford as herself.

My favorite scene in the film is the nightclub scene in Harlem on the Miller wedding night. June was definitely a patient wife, but hey, if you got a chance to jam with Louis Armstrong, you drop EVERYTHING for that opportunity. Gene Krupa and other top jazz musicians are in that scene with Stewart and Satchmo, making it a real treat for jazz aficionados.

For American music we are indeed fortunate that Glenn Miller succeeded in his quest for the right sound which is so lovingly captured in this film.

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22 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

excellent biopic

Author: didi-5 from United Kingdom
22 March 2004

James Stewart in one of his best roles of the 1950s playing the late bandleader in the embellished story of his life; June Allyson plays his wife – one of her best roles and I believe one of her personal favourites.

Watching the real Miller in ‘Orchestra Wives' and then watching this, Stewart is really a revelation in this role. All the hits of the band are represented – Moonlight Serenade, In The Mood, Tuxedo Junction, Chattanooga Choo-Choo, Pennsylvania 65000. Some artistic licence has been taken but the whole is funny, celebratory, and at the end fairly touching. One of the best Hollywood biopics, right in the middle of a glut of them (Love Me or Leave Me, With a Song In My Heart, The Eddy Duchin Story, Night and Day, Words and Music, Three Little Words …).

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19 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

If music be the food of love, play on Glenn, play on!(after W.S.)

7/10
Author: Fleapit from United Kingdom
13 January 2002

Produced nine years after his death this is Hollywood's obituary of swing era legend Glenn Miller. Essentially a musical told around the story of his struggle to achieve musical stardom. A film that will appeal to all lovers of 1930s swing music and Glenn Miller in particular. A film also for James Stewart fans. Casting the gangling Stewart as Miller was a huge gamble that succeeded; if it had failed so would have the film. This success was due to Anthony Mann's undoubted ability as a director. The Mann-Stewart combination had already proved itself but here both were on unfamiliar territory. Mann's forté was the outdoor adventure while Stewart was a pre-war light comedy star still trying to find a new identity. Mann had earlier directed Stewart in Winchester '73(1950)and the two were to go on to further success with The Far Country (1954) and The Man from Larramie (1955). He excels himself in bringing out previously unknown talents in Stewart that make this a career best for the Actor. Clad simply in a military raincoat, a trombone to his lips and sporting a USAAF officer's peaked cap he requires no further make-up to pass himself off as the wartime Miller. Among the lesser credits is the name of an unknown Henry Mancini but this was to be his big break as at the young age of 22 he was to become an Oscar nominee (jointly with Joseph Gershenson) for musical scoring. Before joining Universal Mancini had been a piano player and arranger with the post-war "Glenn Miller Orchestra", by using musicians from this band, made up mainly of sidesmen from Miller's own bands, Mancini ensured an authentic re-creation of the seductive Miller sound that had enchanted teenagers in the years leading up to the war. Regrettably an argument with the Miller Estate prevented the participation of saxophonist Ted Beneke, who had earlier led the post-war band and was renowned for his performance of Chattanoga Choo-Choo in"SunValley Serenade" (1941). The fidelity of the sound track of Miller's music won the film an Oscar for best sound recording of a musical. After a ponderous start the film picks up pace in apparent tune with Miller's success until the last reel is a non-stop performance of Miller standards. Miller was supported throughout by his wife, Helen, sympathetically played by a cuddlesome June Allyson, who ceaselessly encouraged him when all seemed to have failed. When news of his death reaches her one immediately feels her sadness in her loss and spontaneously grieves with her. Get your hankies out! A few minor lapses mar an otherwise competent production; Miller is incongruously seen in his army raincoat an a glorious summer's day conducting his wartime band at an outdoor concert in England just after D-day while the audience and band are in standard military attire; a continuity lapse shows a German flying bomb attack taking place before D-day, 6th June, whereas the first one did not reach England until the following week. Miller's loss at the peak of popularity, flying in advance of his band to make arrangements in Paris for his Christmas concert, ensured his enduring fame. As his plane and body were never recovered the mystery of his death has added to the legend. Only in the last decade have military historians been able to piece together his last moments and pinpoint where the plane came down. Whilst crossing the English Channel in dense fog the plane, which relied entirely on a compass for navigation, wandered off course and entered a prohibited area reserved for returning Allied bombers to drop any left over bombs; it was one of these that hit the plane so bringing to its end the life of one Glenn Alton Miller. Anthony Mann's deliberately abrupt end to the film comes as a jolt and dramatically conveys the unexpected loss of the patriotic Miller in his prime - the touch of the Master. A film that has stood the test of time; part fact, part fiction, it will remain the definitive tribute to the man and his music. Good wholesome entertainment for the whole family and a must for Stewart and Miller fans.

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20 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

Really, truly, one of the best!

Author: mommish from Baltimore, MD
2 January 1999

"The Glenn Miller Story" appears on cable-TV from time to time. It is an historically accurate piece about a beloved man whose music defined an era.

Miller is portrayed as a gracious and kind man -- an officer and a gentleman. We see Jimmy Stewart's affectionate portrayal of this simple man who spent his short musical career searching for a particular sound. The results got the whole world dancing to his new beat: Swing! The music in this movie will surely get you on your feet!

The driving force in Glenn Miller's life was his love for his wife, Helen, amicably played by June Allyson.

A "must-see", movie classic. Be sure to bring a hanky!

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14 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

The Music of Glenn Miller and James Stewart, What an Awesome Combination!

8/10
Author: Claudio Carvalho from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
27 May 2010

The unemployed trombone player Glenn Miller (James Stewart) is always broken, chasing his sound to form his band and hocking his instrument in the pawn house to survive. When his friend Chummy MacGregor (Henry Morgan) is hired to play in the band of Ben Pollack, the band-leader listens to one Glenn's composition and invites him to join his band. While traveling to New York, Glenn visits his former girlfriend Helen Berger (June Allyson), in Boulder, Colorado, and asks her to wait for him. Two years later he quits the band and proposes Helen that moves to New York to marry him. After the success of "Moonlight Serenade", Glenn Miller's band becomes worldwide known and Glenn and Helen and their two children have a very comfortable life. Duting the World War II, Glenn enlists in the army and travels to Europe to increase the moral of the allied troops. In the Christmas of 1944, he travels from London to Paris for a concert to be broadcast; however his plane is never found in the tragic flight.

Glenn Miller was the great idol of my father and I recall that in my childhood, he loved the albums (long-plays) of this American musician and usually commented his tragic end. I do not know how many times I listened to hits like "Moonlight Serenade", "String of Pearls", "Pennsylvania 6-5000", "Little Brown Jug", "In the Mood", "Chattanooga Choo Choo" and other Glenn Miller's musics when I was a kid. This is the first time that I watch "The Glenn Miller Story" and the awesome combination of the music of Glenn Miller and James Stewart. Further, the lovely June Allyson shows a wonderful chemistry with James Stewart and together with the stunning Louis Armstrong, Frances Langford, Ben Pollack, Gene Krupa, Barney Bigard, James Young, Marty Napoleon, Arvell Shaw, Cozy Cole, Babe Russin and others personalities, they make a great tribute to a magnificent American musician and composer. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): "Música e Lágrimas" ("Music and Tears")

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11 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Glenn Miller Story-Forever in the Mood ***

8/10
Author: edwagreen from United States
9 January 2007

Glenn Miller's rise to fame and the tragedy that took him from us at the height of his career makes for a wonderfully entertaining film.

This film is rich because of the wonderful performances of James Stewart as the band leader and June Allyson, the latter was just made for the picture. She captures the depth of a devoted wife and we all can just cry with her when her happiness was ended so suddenly.

Naturally, the supporting cast of musicians and scenes with Frances Langford, Louis Armstrong and Gene Krupa are just wonderful.

We view Miller from humble beginnings to stardom, the old-fashioned Hollywood Way-he earned it by hard work and perseverance as he went through life looking for that sound.

My main flaw with this film. Just like Miller's life, it ended too suddenly. It could have gone on and on while we all danced the night away in tribute to this find musician.

Ever Harry Morgan's tear in the end tells you what this was all about.

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8 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Endearing biopic without achieving greatness.

6/10
Author: The-Spike from United Kingdom
4 March 2008

This is a very tidy film, it's got intelligence, integrity, and above all else...it doesn't merely rely on great tunes to pass as a Glen Miller story. Perhaps guilty of not fully fleshing out Miller's workaholic pursuit of the life changing sound, it manages to portray very well the grind of being on the road, and essentially it doesn't soft soap the defining moment of Miller's career as the swing sound is literally stumbled upon by accident.

James Stewart plays it safe as houses as Miller, it's perfect casting when you think that Miller was such a big household name, something of an American treasure it would seem. Though it should be noted that historians say that the sweet Glen Miller portrayed by James Stewart is not quite in keeping with the real man's persona. Regardless of any character liberty taken, director Anthony Mann crafts a very watchable tale, Stewart and the ever watchable June Allyson as Helen Miller ensure it's a very professional piece, and I dare anyone to not start tapping their feet to those wonderful tunes, but I still think that we are waiting for the definitive Glen Miller picture, some 50 odd years later. As for the ending? Well if it's played out as fact then it's a wonderful finale, but if the makers shoehorned "Little Brown Jug" into the end purely for romanticism? Well that could be construed as dangerously sugar coating what should be a sombre ending to the story. 6.5/10

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11 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

Great Movie about Glen Miller and his music!

10/10
Author: Julie Buse (athena60_98@yahoo.com) from Yakima, WA-United States
3 April 2005

This movie is a great movie about Glen Miller and his music. Jimmy Stewart does a superb playing the part of Glen Miller. June Allyson and Henry Morgan do great in this movie as well. You get to see and hear some great musicians like Louie Armstrong. You also get to hear lots of Glen Miller music like "Little Brown Jug," "Moonlight Serenade," "Pennsylvania 6-5000," "In the Mood," "String of Pearls." "America Patrol," and more. One of my favorite part in the movie is when Glen Miller and the band are in Enland playing "In the Mood" and a German V-1 buzz bomb flies by and explodes. Everone runs for cover except for the band, they continued to play.

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9 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

One of those classics!

7/10
Author: menaka
19 December 2001

Were Jimmy Stewart and June Allyson made for the movie,or what?!

Great movie,lovely music!One of those movies that make you feel good all over,with a beautiful blend if wit,emotion and the Blues!What is even more impressive is the use of African American actors,considering the movie was made in 1954.The Jimmy and June combination evokes the chemistry of a Kate and Spencer movie.A true classic in every way,I'd watch it again in a heartbeat!

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