Great Performances (1971– )
6 user 1 critic

The Great American Songbook 

Documentary assembling film clips of musical numbers from songwriters considered significant contributors to pop culture before the advent of rock and roll.


Andrew J. Kuehn

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Episode credited cast:
Michael Feinstein ... Himself - Host
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Robert Alda ... Himself (archive footage)
June Allyson ... Herself (archive footage)
Eddie 'Rochester' Anderson ... Himself (archive footage)
The Andrews Sisters ... Themselves (archive footage)
Harold Arlen Harold Arlen ... Himself (archive footage)
Fred Astaire ... Himself (archive footage)
Irving Berlin ... Himself (archive footage)
Fanny Brice ... Herself (archive footage)
Anne Brown Anne Brown ... Herself (archive footage)
Virginia Bruce ... Herself (archive footage)
James Cagney ... Himself (archive footage)
Eddie Cantor ... Himself (archive footage)
Ben Carter ... Himself (archive footage)
Maurice Chevalier ... Himself (archive footage)


Documentary assembling film clips of musical numbers from songwriters considered significant contributors to pop culture before the advent of rock and roll.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis









Release Date:

11 March 2003 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

KQED See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

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 »


This film repeats the mistake from the 1999 documentary "Yours for a Song: The Women of Tin Pan Alley" that claimed Dorothy Fields was the first woman to break through male-dominated Broadway and write the lyrics for a hit musical. Before Fields, Rida Johnson Young had written "The Naughty Marietta" with Victor Herbert and Dorothy Donnelly had written "The Student Prince" with Sigmund Romberg. (Both Herbert and Romberg are mentioned in this show, but their female collaborators aren't.) See more »


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

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User Reviews

Good, But should have been better!
25 February 2006 | by girvsjointSee all my reviews

I have this program on the DVD release, and although I agree with the previous critic about the poor showing of Doris Day, I think the same thing about the lack of clips on Bing Crosby, again prominently featured on the cover, apart from being seen in the background in 'Anything Goes'[1936] whilst Ethel Merman sings a couple of songs, the only Bing performance is his 'True Love' duet with Grace Kelly! Come on Michael, I've heard you state on Australian Television that Bing Crosby was your favorite male singer, this is the guy who literally invented 20th. Century 'Pop' music, and blazed the trail for ALL who were to follow, I would have thought he rated more than a passing mention in a program like this. Enjoyable, but for me, disappointing as well.

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