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The Fabulous Dorseys (1947)

Approved | | Biography, Music, Romance | 21 February 1947 (USA)
The rise and rise of the Fabulous Dorsey brothers is charted in this whimsical step down memory lane, Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey play themselves in this vehicle for their excellent music. From ... See full summary »


Alfred E. Green


Richard English (original screen play), Art Arthur (original screen play) | 1 more credit »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Tommy Dorsey ... Tommy Dorsey
Jimmy Dorsey ... Jimmy Dorsey
Janet Blair ... Jane Howard
Paul Whiteman ... Paul Whiteman
William Lundigan ... Bob Burton
Sara Allgood ... Mrs. Dorsey
Arthur Shields ... Mr. Dorsey
Dave Willock ... Foggy
William Bakewell ... Eddie
James Flavin ... Gorman
Charlie Barnet ... Charlie Barnet
Bob Eberly ... Bob Eberly
Henry Busse Henry Busse ... Henry Busse
Helen O'Connell Helen O'Connell ... Helen O'Connell
Mike Pingatore Mike Pingatore ... Musician


The rise and rise of the Fabulous Dorsey brothers is charted in this whimsical step down memory lane, Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey play themselves in this vehicle for their excellent music. From being raised by their father who insists on them learning music, to the split that just saw their careers rise even further. Written by Paul Batey <pbatey@laurel.ocs.mq.edu.au>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The life of two giants of swing-era jazz.


Approved | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


The failure of the original copyright holder to renew the film's copyright resulted in it falling into public domain, meaning that virtually anyone could duplicate and sell a VHS/DVD copy of the film. Therefore, many of the versions of this film available on the market are either severely (and usually badly) edited and/or of extremely poor quality, having been duped from second- or third-generation (or more) copies of the film. See more »


Although much of the story takes place in the 1920's and 1930's, Jane's fashions, make-up, and hair styles are straight out of the late 1940's when this picture was made. See more »


Mrs. Dorsey: There is only one thing worse than being Irish, and that's not being Irish.
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Crazy Credits

Opening credits appear in the turning pages of a book. See more »


Everybody's Doin' It Now
Written by Irving Berlin
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User Reviews

Music good, but the Dorseys deserve better
14 April 2008 | by paulwlSee all my reviews

THE FABULOUS DORSEYS is not fabulous - a B feature with a C-minus script and D-plus dialogue - but the music at least is enjoyable, as I'd expect from a picture starring not one but two big bandleaders.

Laying aside the rickety wooden dialogue and nonexistent love duo, the story is compressed but basically true: poor Irish mining family produces two talented musicians who don't get along, but rise quickly through the band business, start their own outfit, then inevitably break up. As a band nut I'd have liked to see mention of some of the name orchestras of the 20s including the Dorseys - Jean Goldkette? Freddie Rich? - or of Joe Haymes, a forgotten talent who sold Tommy his first band. But that's just me.

Janet Blair (like the brothers a Pennsylvania girl, and one-time vocalist with Hal Kemp's band) just lights up the screen every time we see and hear her, leading us to wonder just what she sees in a stuffed-shouldered cluck like William Lundigan. Other vocal highlights come from ex-JD singers Bob Eberly and Helen O'Connell and TD's then current crooner, Stuart Foster. Instrumental stars Art Tatum, Ray Bauduc and Charlie Barnet add heart to a jam session sequence. Paul Whiteman, gruff, fast-talking and positive, obviously liked playing Paul Whiteman, liaison between fiction and musical reality.

TD and JD are actually OK on screen - they weren't actors but one should not expect them to be. The fault there is with the mawkishly written dialogue that flops out of everyone's mouths. Their real personalities are visible, though toned down: Tommy's natural side-of-the-mouth cockiness, Jimmy's salty dignity of the veteran trouper. (In reality Tommy was profane and given to physical violence; Jimmy was quiet, decent but more than a little bitter, and both had long love-hate relationships with John Barleycorn.)

The real-life Dorseys - their music, their problems, their era - still await a full-dress Hollywood treatment before their names totally fade from the culture. It's easy to imagine, say, Ben Affleck and Ed Burns in the roles of TD and JD, complete with booze, broads, cuss words, flying chairs, and original orchestrations.

(PS: Those commenting about how over-the-top Mom and Pop Dorsey's Irish brogues were should understand that the actors playing them actually were Irish.)

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Release Date:

21 February 1947 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Fighting Dorseys See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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