am 8. April 2016
THE BENNY GOODMAN STORY – THE KING OF SWING [1956 / 2014] [Blu-ray] A Fabulous Guy . . . A Wonderful Woman and the Exciting Music They Made Together!
A captivating story full of musical genius, classically beautiful arrangements and passion make the film a rare first-class experience. Steve Allen flourishes in the role of Benny Goodman on clear and proves his acting talent. And besides all the conflicts with his parents, which Goodman made very difficult life; this film a fascinating masterpiece is more equal than a simple biography, it more like an exciting and rewarding journey into the life of Benny Goodman.
The popular jazz clarinettist never let it get out of failures. The exceptional musician made his way to the very top and was known for his interpretations of foreign compositions. He had to share numerous compositions, which he, together with the members of his bands and developed and especially in the smaller settings. Of particular note here are the musicians Lionel Hampton (vibraphone) and Charlie Christian (Guitar).
Cast: Steve Allen, Donna Reed, Berta Gersten, Barry Truex, Herbert Anderson, Robert F. Simon, Hy Averback, Sammy Davis, Sr., Dick Winslow, Shepard Menken, Jack Kruschen, Wilton Graff, Fred Essler, David Kasday, John Erman, George Givot, Lionel Hampton, Gene Krupa, Ben Pollack, Teddy Wilson, Kid Ory, Harry James, Ziggy Elman, Martha Tilton, Urbie Green, Buck Clayton, Stan Getz, George Givot, Harry James, John Best, Chris Alcaide (uncredited), Steve Allen Jr. (uncredited), Robert Clarke (uncredited), James Conaty (uncredited), Hal K. Dawson (uncredited), Douglas Evans (uncredited), Bess Flowers (uncredited), Don Gordon (uncredited), Sam Harris (uncredited), Whitey Haupt (uncredited), Diane Jergens (uncredited), Louise Lorimer (uncredited), Arthur Lovejoy (uncredited), Barry Norton (uncredited), Cynthia Patrick (uncredited), George Ramsey (uncredited), Buddy Ray (uncredited), Allan Reuss (uncredited), Babe Russin (uncredited), Cosmo Sardo (uncredited), Jeffrey Sayre (uncredited), Jack Stoney (uncredited), Frank D. Strong (uncredited), Charles Tannen (uncredited), Ben Welden (uncredited) and Smoki Whitfield (uncredited),
Director: Valentine Davies
Producer: Aaron Rosenberg
Screenplay: Valentine Davies
Composers: Alan Harding, Harold Brown, Joseph Gershenson, Henry Mancini and Sol Yaged
Cinematography: William H. Daniels
Video Resolution: 1080p [Technicolor]
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: German: 2.0 DTS-HD Master Mono Audio and English: 2.0 DTS-HD Master Mono Audio
Running Time: 116 minutes
Region: Region B/2
Number of discs: 1
Studio: Universal-International Picture
Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: ‘THE BENNY GOODMAN STORY’ story is a highly entertaining film that serves as a great introduction to Swing music. The "King of Swing" came to the screen as never before in the 1956 musical biography, ‘THE BENNY GOODMAN STORY.’ It's not that Benny Goodman had never appeared in a movie before. He had made ten at that point, nine as himself and one as a college professor in ‘A Song Is Born’ . But ‘THE BENNY GOODMAN STORY’ marked the first time he had been played by another actor, TV talk show host and comic Steve Allen.
Steve Allen impresses mightily in his first acting job as the incomparable Benny Goodman. Anytime a musical biography is attempted, if the person is famous enough, it's dangerous to toy with the truth. In the case of ‘The Glenn Miller Story,’ there was the added drama of his unexpected death. In this case, Goodman has the standard rags-to-riches history of so many musical personalities and, despite Valentine Davies often inventive and intelligent script, truth can get tiresome. Valentine Davies also directs with as much aplomb as he can muster, but it's uphill in the dramatic scenes because the audience is waiting for the musical numbers that dot the screenplay.
Even if the film was considered by the critics a dramatic failure, but not by the audiences that went to see the film. Thanks largely to a watered-down screenplay that fictionalises aspects of the bandleader's life; at least it provides a showcase for some great musical performances. Benny Goodman’s swing music is so much a part of the familiar sounds of our times that just to hear it as Benny Goodman and his bandsmen used to play and still do and is an experience of multiple charms. It is jazz in the old New Orleans rhythm but with modern adornments and overtones. It is roundly and richly characteristic of the popular development of swing.
The film was born out of Hollywood's desire to make lightning strike twice. Universal-International and producer Aaron Rosenberg had scored a huge hit with ‘The Glenn Miller Story’ , so it was only natural that they make another film biography built around the music of the big band era. Benny Goodman seemed a logical choice, with his rags-to-riches story and his pioneering work in helping integrate the music industry. With the bandleader and many of his associates still alive, Aaron Rosenberg saw the potential for another musical extravaganza. Benny Goodman agreed to sell them the rights to his life for $25,000 and took another $10,000 to serve as a consultant. Most importantly, he recorded the clarinet tracks for the film, greatly adding to the picture's musical value.
Aaron Rosenberg's first choice to write the screenplay was Valentine Davies, with whom he had worked on the earlier hit. When Valentine Davies asked for the chance to direct, the producer said yes, which may have been his biggest mistake? Critics would deride the film's static direction, and Valentine Davies would never direct again. His script also failed to capture the real Benny Goodman. "King of Swing" would later say that he and his wife laughed at the fictionalised scenes.
It's this music, delivered in abundance and in the genuine Benny Goodman style that makes this fun musical film, THE BENNY GOODMAN STORY,’ at all worth going to see. It is this that imparts to the picture, which opened at the Capitol last night, a soft syncopation and nostalgia. And, believe us, if it weren't for this music, planted all the way through the film, THE BENNY GOODMAN STORY,’ would be something we devoutly would advise you to avoid.
Steve Allen, the TV actor who makes his screen debut in the role of the fictitious Goodman. He is so tense and taciturn or so timid and temperate that the only personality he projects is that of an amiable wallflower. It isn't Benny Goodman and Steve Allen has picked a fine way to crimp his popularity on TV. Likewise Donna Reed, as the social figure who succumbs to Benny's musical charm, Berta Gersten, as his dialectic mamma, and Hy Averback, as his manager, are sluggish, too. As for the clutch of "name" musicians that drift on and off the scene, they deliver a variety of weird performances, according to their individual whims.
But, then, of course, there's always that music like the familiar, jazzy numbers being played, from the "Original Dixieland One-Step" to the splattering "Sing, Sing, Sing." There's "Let's Dance" and "Goody, Goody" and "Stompin' at the Savoy" and "Memories of You." And, of course, there's the Mozart Concerto for Clarinet, which proves that Benny Goodman can play longhair, too. Another big-band winner! Similar to ‘The Glenn Miller Story,’ this film is worth the music alone. Steve Allen's performance is indeed low-key, but delightfully so! The picture, produced by Universal-International Picture, is in Technicolor and looks pretty good for a 1956 film, if you're still interested I think adding this to your Blu-ray Collection will be an added bonus.
Blu-ray Video Quality – Universal-International Picture brings you this unique classic 1956 film of the highest calibre presentation and looks totally ravishing in glorious 1080p Technicolor image presentation and has secured a clean and beautifully saturated print quality for this Blu-ray disc, with an equally impressive 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The photography really pops with fantastic detail and the kind of specks and dirt which normally show on film this age are mostly absent. The picture quality sometimes tends to get slightly soft and grainy now and again, but less saturated when scenes tend to transition into each other; otherwise it is a splendid-looking Blu-ray disc for its age, and I suspect there was only one source of negative they could acquire. Playback Region B/2: This will not play on most Blu-ray players sold in North America, Central America, South America, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. Learn more about Blu-ray region specifications.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – Universal-International Picture presents you a choice of two audio experiences and they are German: 2.0 DTS-HD Master Mono Audio and English: 2.0 DTS-HD Master Mono Audio, and by accident I happen to listen to the German track and sounded slightly muffled, but the English track is totally stunning and very clear, and especially with both dialogue as well as the musical numbers, especially sounding really beautiful and lush and it practically feels like being in the recording studio. Before viewing the film you must first access the audio section, as it automatically selects the German language.
Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:
Preview Trailers: When the Blu-ray Disc loads up, you automatically get two trailers to view, which are: ‘Escape from Planet Earth’ [German Audio]  [1080p] [2.40:1] [2:19] and ‘Systemfehler – Wenn Inge Tanzt’ [‘When Inge Is Dancing’] [German Audio]  [1080p] [2.40:1] [2:02].
Finally, ‘THE BENNY GOODMAN STORY – THE KING OF SWING’  is truly a gem. Steve Allen's portrayal of Benny Goodman along with his amazing clarinet techniques is truly wonderful. There is a love story between Steve Allen and Donna Reed, but this movie is more about the birth of the great Band era. The music is simply extraordinary with guest’s appearances by some of the greatest musicians of our time...Lionel Hampton, Gene Krupa, Harry James. This is a film for those who love this type of music...if you are too young to remember, you should give this Blu-ray disc a try and if you do remember, the nostalgia can be overwhelming at times, and I found it a very emotional trip, to the point I had to grab some tissues, it was that emotional. The acting sometimes leaves a bit to be desired, but this is not about acting...this is about a style of music that will never die and some of the people that blessed us with it and again it is a brilliant tour de force journey that really makes you appreciate the music you get to hear and see performed and you believe Steve Allen is playing the clarinet, that is totally brilliant. Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom