Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5.
USA, 1947. Charles R. Rogers Productions. Story and Screenplay by Richard English, Art Arthur, Curtis Kenyon. Cinematography by James Van Trees. Produced by Charles R. Rogers. Music by Louis Forbes, Leo Shuken. Production Design by Duncan Cramer. Costume Design by Maria P. Donovan. Film Editing by George M. Arthur.
The heavily fictionalized origins of the popular musical duo of Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey are promoted in a shamelessly contrived film. As children, the boys’ strict father (Arthur Shields) wants them to learn classical music as their only hope of getting out of their working-class town, while their wise and loving mother (Sara Allgood) indulges them in the odd pennies to go to the movies and just be kids. The boys want to leave the world of stuffy music behind and invent swing music, and just imagine their surprise when improvised riffs on the trombone that disrespect the structure of popular tunes turn out to actually thrill the local folks at the town dances! As adults, the boys go their separate ways after their perpetually hot tempers drive them apart, a rift that is healed in the corniest possible way when their family finds itself in crisis. Why the parents of two young children look like they’re in their sixties is just one of the questions you might have about this faux biography, typical of the kind of scrubbing up that Hollywood did of famous musical personalities at the time, but the scenes where the narrative stops and indulges in their most famous hits (including a terrific performance of “Marie”) make it easy to see why the footage from an otherwise forgettable experience has survived this many decades.