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Ella Fitzgerald - Something to Live For
Ella Fitzgerald - Something to Live For
Actors: Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett, Ray Brown Jr., Harry Edison, Norma Miller
Director: Charlotte Zwerin
Genres: Indie & Art House, Music Video & Concerts, Educational, Musicals & Performing Arts, Documentary, African American Cinema
NR     2000     1hr 26min

The neo-pop divas of the late 20th century may have turned up the glamour, and a few even introduced formidable technical prowess, epitomized by Mariah Carey's seemingly helium-induced falsetto (the bane of canine fans eve...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett, Ray Brown Jr., Harry Edison, Norma Miller
Director: Charlotte Zwerin
Creators: Vic Losick, Charlotte Zwerin, Bernadine Colish, Dina Hossain, Karen Bernstein
Genres: Indie & Art House, Music Video & Concerts, Educational, Musicals & Performing Arts, Documentary, African American Cinema
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Jazz, Educational, Documentary, Biography, History, African American Cinema
Studio: Winstar
Format: DVD - Black and White,Color
DVD Release Date: 01/25/2000
Original Release Date: 01/01/1999
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1999
Release Year: 2000
Run Time: 1hr 26min
Screens: Black and White,Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Great resource for Ella fans
Scott Elder | Houston, TX USA | 01/05/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"It's way past time that something like this was released about Ella. This video contains lots of performance footage from various TV appearances and live concerts. I was very pleased to find that the emphasis is on live footage rather than simply on narration with various still shots and otherwise available, already well-known commercial recordings playing in the background. Of course there is quite a bit of narration, but the emphasis is still on Ella performing. We even get to see "alternative" performances of some commercially available live recordings that will be well-known to Ella fans. For example, there is a clip of her performing at Ronnie Scott's in London doing her parody of country music and "Soul Train" music. (It is a different version from the one on her "Ella in London" recording, and very funny.) There is also a video clip from her performance with Count Basie's orchestra at Montreux in '79, singing part of "Basella" and trading fours with Eric Dixon and Mitchell "Bootie" Woods. (In this case, it is the same performance as the commercial audio recording, but the video gives additional insight into Ella's performing style for Ella fans.) I enjoyed the video very much and can highly recommend it to both casual and hardcore fans (who might already have most of her commercial recordings) of Ella Fitzgerald. You will find several new things here."
Bradly Briggs | TOLUCA LAKE, CALIFORNIA | 05/22/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Luckily I was able to see Ella In Concert numerous times throughout the 70's and 80's and was honored to have her autograph two L.P.'s by her limousine after a concert she gave at the Junior College I attended at the time in 1972...Ella was kind and gracious and that quailty plus her brilliant artistry really come through and shine in this stunning documentary of her life and incomparable career. Tony Bennett is the perfect choice to narrate this magnificent "American Masters" production and his love of Ella comes through and adds alot of soul to the special. Performance footage is ultimately what becomes breathtaking to experience and when Ella sings the classic "Something To Live For" it is breathtakingly beautiful and completely haunting. The use of concert footage from the various stages of her career show that Ella found joy in sharing her gift with her audience and songs like "For Once In My Life" become life experiences that are emotionally engrossing and technically brilliant. This "American Masters" special is a keeper so for anyone who loves the legendary Ella get this historical work fast while it is available as this is the definitive work about the life and career of this wonderous and gifted talent...BRAVO ELLA and thank you are all the wonderful years of sublime singing and you are truly missed!!!"
The First Lady of Song, from teenager to legend.
Mary Whipple | New England | 10/24/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This exciting, 86-minute video of Ella Fitzgerald's life and career, directed by Charlotte Zwerin, highlights aspects of her private life and combines that personal story with extensive footage of some of her early performances. Narrated by Tony Bennett, and containing excerpts from her long interview with Andre Previn, the bio ranges widely in time and place, filling in important biographical information, at the same time that it focuses on her development as a singer.

From her earliest days when she was an aspiring dancer, we learn of her difficulties at home, and following the death of her mother, her possible abuse by her stepfather. After escaping from a girls' reformatory, she goes on the road with Chick Webb, who mentors her, and following his death she gets the "greatest education I've ever had"--singing bebop. Playing the role of a horn (vocally), she learns to imitate its sound exactly, with her perfect pitch, and it is through this imitation of the trumpet that she creates and becomes an expert on scat.

Norman Granz, who became her manager from 1953 through her death in 1997, makes jazz "classy," refusing to allow racial discrimination in the halls where Ella performs, arranging performances of jazz at the Philharmonic, and making his musicians feel important. Through the Great American Songbook series which he arranges for her, Ella gains many new fans, and her numerous TV performances make her name a household word.

Wonderful clips of Ella singing with Nat King Cole, Louis Armstrong (who cracks her up), Frank Sinatra, Jimmy Durante, a Mel Torme so young his voice is still almost soprano, and even in a trio with Joan Sutherland and Dinah Shore, show Ella as a trouper, having fun, enjoying the company of these other famous stars, and always hitting every note.

Though she had a difficult personal life, Ella, as seen here, is often playful, singing wild country and western and a "soul" piece at a London concert, a terrific medley of children's songs with Bing Crosby, in which she sings scat while he whistles, and even an amazing tune in which she sings virtually every instrument in the band.

Many of her most famous songs are featured: "Sweet Georgia Brown," "Misty," 1968's "Summertime," "Lady is a Tramp" with Frank Sinatra, and "Azure (In An Azure Mood)." Showing Ella on the road during her entire 58-year career, this video brings her to life once again and inspires our even greater appreciation. Mary Whipple
Musically, smooth as silk.
Chris Aldridge | Washington, DC USA | 11/02/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I grew up watching Ms. Fitzgerald in the glass-shattering "Memorex" commercials which are included in this DVD. Even at that age her voice was something to behold. The quintessential Ella moment comes three minutes into the DVD- after the credits- as she flawlessly renders the torch song "Lover Man" dressed in basic black. This documentary captures Ella's golden era- before the various medical problems. As was mentioned earlier the documentary itself has gaps, as certain years and decades are skimmed over and not all scenes are identified or captioned. But music and singer are stunning, showing a buoyant, incredibly shy woman, beautifully full of figure, whose silky voice positively resonates. There are also clips of a 1979 interview from Andre Previn and marvelous recollections from her bandmates- including one who remembers her being able to break into song on the tour bus and silence all of her fellow musicians. (The song heard is Duke Ellington's "Azure Mood"). The TV show clips are what you really want to see: performances with Nat "King" Cole, Bing Crosby, Mel Torme', Dinah Shore and Joan Sutherland, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and most memorable a parry-and-thrust duet with Frank Sinatra on "The Lady Is A Tramp" from his 1967 special. A platinum time capsule of a timeless perfomer."