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Anita O'Day: The Life of a Jazz Singer (2007)

A tribute to jazz diva Anita O'Day, completed just weeks before her death in November 2006.

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2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast

Credited cast:
Anita O'Day ...
Herself
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
...
Himself (archive footage)
...
Himself
...
Himself (archive footage)
Leonard Feather ...
Himself
Will Friedwald ...
Himself
Russell Garcia ...
Himself (as Russ Garcia)
Willis Holman ...
Himself (as Bill Holman)
Eddie Locke ...
Himself
Johnny Mandel ...
Himself
...
Himself
John Poole ...
Himself (archive footage)
Denny Roach ...
Himself
...
Herself
Billy Taylor ...
Himself
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Storyline

A documentary look at the improvised life of Anita O'Day (1919-2006), singer and stylist whose timing, phrasing, interpretations, and unique sound put her among the finest vocalists of jazz. Interviews with her late in life are interspersed with archival footage of performances and old interviews as well as with comments by friends, arrangers, critics, and other musicians. She talks about singing without a uvula (sing eighth notes), of jail time for a marijuana arrest, of taking and kicking heroin, of finally making money after appearing at the Newport Jazz Festival, of loss, of a broken arm that almost cost her life, and of living in 4/4 time, one day at a time, smiling. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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Genres:

Documentary | Music

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Details

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Release Date:

30 April 2007 (USA)  »

Box Office

Budget:

$600,000 (estimated)
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film depicts Anita O'Day's emergence as a solo artist and her signing with Bob Thiele's Signature label by showing a cardboard cut-out of her with the slogan, "Hey, ops! I'm on Signature now!" "Ops" meant jukebox operators, who were crucial to the success of a record in the 1930's and 1940's. Not only did they buy a lot of records themselves, they also promoted it by putting it on their jukeboxes. See more »

Goofs

In one of the interview clips, Anita O'Day says that composer-arranger Gary McFarland died soon after the release of the album they made together, "All the Sad Young Men." McFarland actually lived another 10 years after the 1961 release of his record with O'Day, and died on November 2, 1971. See more »

Connections

Features Jazz on a Summer's Day (1959) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Anita O'Day: The Life of a Jazz Singer... Jazz Allusion
26 July 2009 | by (Clearwater Fl) – See all my reviews

Anita O'Day: The Life of a Jazz Singer: 6 out of 10: I had no idea who Anita O'Day was when I rented this film. I like Jazz well enough and enjoy having it as background music, but I am hardly what one describes as an aficionado.

Since viewing this film, I have watched the wonderful documentary "Jazz on a Summer's Day" and have downloaded some fine Anita O'Day jazz albums.

Therefore, from one point of view, the documentary is a stunning success. It got me interested enough in its subject, for me to take actions after viewing.

The film however suffers from uneven interviews and presentation. Film quality is all over the map and some of O'Day's last interviews were clearly filmed by folks unfamiliar with the workings of a motion picture camera.

Even more disappointing is the poor sound quality of many of the musical tracks and the lack of sampling from her albums.

You know if you have a 16-year heroin addiction and four failed marriages and you still manage to live until 87 despite grinding poverty and botched healthcare, you are the definition one tough bird. Unfortunately that also signifies most of your contemporaries are long dead. Many of the war stories as a result, tend to be second hand at best.

The film does contain one wonderful non-musical highlight. In a mid-seventies interview a young Bryant Gumbel states to O'Day "Your life story involves rape, failed relationships, drugs, and multiple abortions". O'Day's that is just they way it went down response is priceless.

Anita O'Day: The Life of a Jazz Singer is a decent film but I would recommend renting Jazz on a Summer's Day first. That concert seems to capture the magic better than anything else I have seen.


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