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Robert D. Webb
The story of legendary jazz drummer, Gene Krupa. Since his youth, all Gene ever wanted to do is play the drums and make music. This is something his parents would not approve of- they want him to be a priest. When Gene's father dies he promises to enter the priesthood. He soon realizes that he doesn't belong there and leaves to join his friend, Eddie's band. Ethel, Eddie's girlfriend, convinces Gene to go to New York and make it big. The 3 of them head to New York. Here Ethel and Gene soon fall in love and Gene makes a name for himself. Gene starts to live in the fast lane, with drugs, alcohol, women and parties. Ethel, unhappy with Gene's lifestyle, leaves him. Gene soon "hits rock bottom" where he has to face reality and choose where to take his life. Written by
When the film opened in Krupa's hometown of Chicago at the Schiller Theatre on January 15, 1960 both Gene Krupa and Sal Mineo were on hand to greet the public and sign "fan fotos." See more »
In the scene between Gene and Ethel, right after Gene's mother argues with him in the speakeasy about the priesthood, Ethel's small handbag on the table is closer to her on the close-in shots than it is on the longer shots. See more »
Sal Mineo, who made a career of played conflicted people, does a magnificent job in the biography of legendary drummer Gene Krupa.
Mineo, as Krupa, gets wonderful support from James Darren and Susan Kohner. 1959 was a remarkable year for Miss Kohner. It was that year where she received a best supporting actress nomination as the troubled daughter of Lana Turner's maid in that great film "Imitation of Life."
Krupa's family wanted him to enter the priesthood. However, Gene's calling was for being a drummer. As is the case with so many talented people, success came quickly and unable to handle it, Krupa descended into a life of drinking and using reefers. At a time, when there were investigations revolving about musicians and drugs, Krupa's career suffered from his conviction and serving time in prison.
While Mineo at age 20, may have been too young for the part, he does a very credible job as the tormented youth. Kohner, as his girlfriend, Ethel, never gave up on him even though he literally walked out on her before his troubles again. As she did in "Imitation of Life," Kohner shows her own emotional conflict. Her early retirement from films deprived Hollywood of an excellent talent.
We also lost a great talent, when Mineo, who would get possibly the best part of his career as Dov Landau,the following year, in "Exodus," was murdered in 1976.
Lawrence Dobkin, who in 1959, was an important player in the television series "The Untouchables," scores well here as a protégé of Krupa.
Celia Lovsky, who was so memorable in many old films, usually portraying elderly women, was wonderful in 2 scenes in portraying Krupa's disappointed but loving mother. Of course, a Jewish woman playing a Catholic mother, might have raised some eyebrows at that time.
This is an excellent film where the social mores of the time derailed Krupa's great talent and career.
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