Great Performances: Season 31, Episode 11

The Great American Songbook (11 Mar. 2003)

TV Episode  |   |  Biography, Drama, Music
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Title: The Great American Songbook (11 Mar 2003)

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Episode credited cast:
Himself - Host
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Robert Alda ...
Himself (archive footage)
Herself (archive footage)
Himself (archive footage)
Themselves (archive footage)
Harold Arlen ...
Himself (archive footage)
Himself (archive footage)
Himself (archive footage)
Herself (archive footage)
Anne Brown ...
Herself (archive footage)
Herself (archive footage)
Himself (archive footage)
Himself (archive footage)
Ben Carter ...
Himself (archive footage)
Himself (archive footage)


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Release Date:

11 March 2003 (USA)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Vernon Duke, the Russian-born songwriter mentioned in the film, studied music at the St. Petersburg Conservatory under his original name, Vladimir Dukelsky. One of his classmates was Sergei Prokofieff, who became a major classical composer: the two were lifelong friends and regularly wrote letters to each other until Prokofieff's death in 1953. (The letters were an important source for Harlow Robinson's biography of Prokofieff.) See more »


The narration describes Al Jolson as one of America's leading vaudevillians. Jolson never played vaudeville; he went directly from performing in minstrel shows to appearing in Broadway musicals. See more »


Features Alexander's Ragtime Band (1938) See more »

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User Reviews

Too Much Judy!
16 October 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I believe I saw this documentary on PBS. If this is the same one with Michael Fienstein talking about composers and showing clips throughout, it must be the same one. I watched the show because Doris Day was prominently advertised, but it turned out to be another "Judy Garland Show." You'd think by looking at all these documentaries about movie musicals, etc., that Garland was the ONLY female making this type of film. FYI, Doris Day, almost single-handedly, saved this dying art form upon arriving at Warner Brothers to make "Romance on the High Seas" in 1948. During her seven hear contract at WB, she made 17 pictures, mostly musicals, including the legendary, "Calamity Jane."

Day, because of the backlash she received during the late 60s (the sexual revolution was taking place), is purposely slighted when today's retrospectives on Hollywood's "golden age" are presented. People felt it "fashionable" to disparage Doris Day as "un hip" and a "goody goody girl." Of course, all of this was nonsense, but it DID impact on how Day would later be treated when look-backs centered on the 50s and 60s movie stars. You'd think, by looking at these shows that Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland and Elizabeth Taylor were bigger stars than Day. They were not. Doris Day remains, to this day, the top female box office attraction in the HISTORY of films. They can't take THAT away from her.

As I recall about this documentary, there was one clip of Doris Day, even though they have prominently placed her on the DVD box-cover. That's just to sell the product. Misleading.

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