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The Benny Goodman Story
The Benny Goodman Story
Actors: Steve Allen, Donna Reed, Berta Gersten, Barry Truex, Herbert Anderson
Genres: Classics, Drama, Kids & Family, Musicals & Performing Arts
G     2003     1hr 56min



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Movie Details

Actors: Steve Allen, Donna Reed, Berta Gersten, Barry Truex, Herbert Anderson
Genres: Classics, Drama, Kids & Family, Musicals & Performing Arts
Sub-Genres: Classics, Classics, Classics, Family Films, Musicals
Studio: Universal Studios
Format: DVD - Color,Full Screen - Closed-captioned,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 03/04/2003
Release Year: 2003
Run Time: 1hr 56min
Screens: Color,Full Screen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 9
MPAA Rating: G (General Audience)
Languages: English
Subtitles: Spanish, French

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Movie Reviews

The music is better than the "history" in this bio-pic
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 11/21/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The consensus has long been that "The Benny Goodman Story" has problems when it comes to being historically accurate but the music is absolutely great. Steve Allen plays Goodman in such a low-keyed manner it is hard to reconcile this with the jovial host of "The Tonight Show." Donna Reed plays love interest Alice Hammond, who is quicker to fall for Benny than she is for his music. It seems Alice is a society gal, who tags along with her brother John (Herbert Anderson) from time to time when he hits the jazz clubs. But when John invites Benny to play a Mozart clarinet concerto at their home for the society crowd, Alice is convinced Benny is going to be humiliated. Instead, it is Alice who has her eyes opened, especially after meeting the wonderful Dora Goodman (Berta Gersten), who wishes her husband was still alive to hear their son play "good" music. The other wonderful scene is when Goodman's band is going down for the last time and he decides they might as well go out playing HIS kind of music. As the band plays on he is stunned to see the kids are just standing and LISTENING to his music rather than dancing. The rest is history, or at least the Hollywood version of history. Gene Krupa,Lionel Hampton, Teddy Wilson and Sammy Davis Sr. are some of the jazz greats who appear as themselves in this film. Barry Truex plays Goodman at age 16 and actually does a fantastic job of playing Steve Allen at 16, because there is no problem seeing than as the same person a decade apart. The film climaxes with his landmark Carnegie Hall band concert in 1938. Along the way there is the great music: "Let's Dance, "Stompin' At The Savoy," "One O'Clock Jump," "Moonglow," "Sing Sing Sing (With A Swing)" and the proverbial much much more. The obvious double-feature with "The Benny Goodman Story" would be "The Glenn Miller Story," in that order if you want to do the history right."
Nice but inaccurate story, GREAT music
T. Givens | Virginia , USA | 07/23/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This film actually got me going as a BG fan, 20 years ago on the TV late show. I've been collecting BG recordings, books, and etc. ever since.

As previous reviewers have said, there are many inaccuracies in the story, the acting is a bit lifeless, but the music is great.

I do want to say that with all the inaccuracies, the film does a good job of conveying the feeling of Benny's beginnings and rise to the top. And one should remember that this was Steve Allen's first major acting role, and in that light, he does a commendable job as the frustrated but driven Goodman.

The movie is well worth buying just for watching the musicians perform the music as you hear it. The soundtrack CD gives complete versions of all the songs, but the visual performance adds a lot. It is a must to point out that Benny himself is playing all the clarinet from off camera. Allen does a good job of looking believable as he fakes playing. I understand it was his idea to take several hours of training from actual players, including Benny. Allen was already an accomplished jazz pianist and composer.

Other reviewers have mentioned Ross Firestone's 'Swing, Swing, Swing' as a good biography of BG. I find James Lincoln Collier's 'Benny Goodman And The Swing Era' to be a much more accurate and detailed bio for the serious fan.

Even if you're new to this kind of music, buy the movie, sit back, and enjoy! I can almost guarantee you'll want more of Goodman's music by the end of the film."
andoy A | Honolulu, Hawaii | 01/28/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"VHS or DVD: The Benny Goodman Story. A tearjerker, the life of one of Americas' outstanding musical artists. You can see ALL the original artists, as (then) sidemen/women performing with the Benny Goodman Trio, Quartet, and full Orchestra. Steve Allen portrays Benny pretty darn well. There's even sceans from the 1938 Carnegie Hall Jazz Concert. An American Classic! EVERYBODY should be so fortunate to view this 5-star production!
A wonderful way to introduce the youngsters to 'GOOD MUSIC!'
Andrew A! Honolulu, Hawaii"
Thanks for the music | NY (USA) | 10/31/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)

"The value of this film lies not in the story but the music. The story is filled with flaws including the Carnegie Hall concert. However, there are some versions of the musical material on the soundtrack that surpasses many of the studio recorded versions available today. "One O'Clock Jump, Stompin' at the Savoy," and "Bugle Call Rag" are three that come to mind. This is where the film shines, in the musical presentation. As one of the other reviewers stated, if you want to learn about the life of Benny Goodman, get a copy of "Swing, Swing, Swing: The Life and Times of Benny Goodman." Next get a copy of the Carnegie Hall concert and listen. The recording is noisy, but the music is amazing. Furthermore, this event elevated Jazz from popular music to an artform. 1 star for the acting and 5 stars for the music."