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Bio of swing band leader 'Benny Goodman' from age 10 (1919) to his landmark Carnegie Hall band concert in 1938. Not exactly historically accurate, but great music. Also, guest appearances by many great musicians of the time. Written by
Don Femia <firstname.lastname@example.org>
THE BENNY GOODMAN story, the half brother of the GLENN MILLER STORY and the GENE KRUPA STORY and the first cousin of THE FABULOUS DORSEY'S is a made to order biopic that lacks ooomph because of the reticence of the title character. Steve Allen's Goodman doesn't have the boyish enthusiasm that James Stewart had as Miller, but rather a quiet nerdishness that although possibly respresenting the person correctly, doesn't make for thrilling cinema. Because of this, Allen treads water valiantly, while all Donna Reed has to do is look lovingly at him and look as beautiful as, well, Donna Reed. (The real find in the film is Berta Gerstein, of whom I had never heard, but who I gather from reading the IMBD database, must have been a Yiddish theater/cinema star, as Benny Goodman's mother. She is so real that she makes the rest of the actors seem like cardboard.) But what a treat it is to see and hear Kid Ory, Harry James, Martha Tilton, Lionel Hampton, Ziggy Elman, Urbie Green and to hear Goodman himself.
Where the film shines is in its music and never more so than at the halfway point's Paramount Theater engagement and the ending's Carnegie Hall concert of 1938. In these two spots the film soars. AND THE ANGEL'S SING is classic and SING SING SING will blow the top off your DVD player.
So, THE BENNY GOODMAN STORY, usual biopic with some amazing music. (Want a great double feature? No, not THE GLENN MILLER STORY which is fun, but rather the 1947 NEW ORLEANS with more jazz greats including Louis Armstrong. Now, as Cole Porter would say, you has jazz!)!!!!!!!!
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