[[ASIN:B001BMWG5I The Benny Goodman Story ..This is a film I saw in 1955 i loved it then and i still love it 53 years later. The actual film inspired me to play the clarinet wich i still play today but just as a hobby. Great film great music should be in all jazz lovers collection.Jim.
Its taken a while, but finally its here on a Region 2 DVD. Benny Goodman swings! The first time I saw this biopic was back in the 1950s and I had to queue to get into a thousand seat cinema and when I finally arrived in the semi-darkness I had to stand at the back of the stalls with a good many others! Although there was a serious lack of TV in the average home in those days , that fact alone does not fully explain the popularity of this kind of movie at that time. Today it is all pretty schmaltzy and like the Glenn Miller Story a few years earlier, the screenplay and the "life story" of the subject is no more than a vehicle for the music to travel upon. Usually syrupy and often historically questionable the dramatics do at least provide a view of the acting styles of a time long gone. Nevertheless The BG story is a good transfer to DVD and the music very well engineered into the soundtrack. It is especially good on a well set up home cinema sound system. The film of course does provide the chance to see and hear some well known musical figures from the 1930s, some in cameo roles. Gene Krupa, Ben Pollack, and Harry James. Ziggy Elman, Lionel Hampton, Teddy Wilson and Martha Tilton. And a nice little spot for Sammy Davis Jnr's Dad in the role of Fletcher Henderson. The Goodman band of the time provides most of the music of course and Benny himself is who you hear on the clarinet. Steve Allen, who plays the lead, is a near enough look-a-like for the part, though less than convincing with his simulated clarinet playing. But to be more critical would be pernickity. It is an enjoyable film and should not be compared to the melodramatics of today's movies. The Benny Goodman Story comes from the distant past and will forever remain there. Having said that, it can still be enjoyed today for what it is. Its not even necessary to be a fan of the swing bands of the period, but it does help!
They thought they'd found a winning formula with the popular 'The Glen Miller Story' a no warts at all work of skillfully woven fiction, but transferring the template to the life of swing's greatest clarinetist and without an established star like James Stewart to carry it, did not reproduce a similar box office success. The music is great and it's good to see the great quartet back together (if you can accept Steve Allen as Goodman), but the story is even farther from the truth than was Miller's and the lead struggles to capture the quirky, to put it politely, character of Benny Goodman. A good attempt to cash in on the success of the then recently released Carnegie Hall concert album but more of a trip down memory lane even back in 1955 for the middle aged Lindy Hop generation.