Interesting Bio with Fabulous Performer Clips
Matt Howe | Washington, DC | 10/28/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I rented this a couple of nights ago. One of the interviewees in the bio comments that he heard an Arlen medley one night and was amazed that he recognized song after song ... did this guy write all that ??? Well, Harold Arlen did and this DVD features some amazing performances by legends like Streisand, Sinatra, and Garland. There are nice black and white interviews with Mr. Arlen himself, lots of kinescopes of Arlen on piano playing and singing his songs. There is a fascinating section of how "Over The Rainbow" came to be written (lyricist E.Y. Harburg is very eloquent in his explanation). There's even a very cool section of Arlen and Tony Bennett in the recording studio. I can't remember the name of the song, but it swings, oh it swings! Of course, Streisand explodes on the screen as she whips through an incredible version of "Any Place I Hang My Hat Is Home". And there's a rare kinescope of Sinatra singing "One For My Baby" which has to be the most incredible song written because it is an actor's monologue with music. Sinatra does such a good job! I found the whole bio to be interesting. Arlen is one of America's treasures and has given us so many jewels for our songbook. Seeing the man behind the music was very interesting."
A moving documentary on a great songwriter
Matt Howe | 10/29/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Like a lot of people, I had heard the name of Harold Arlen, but didn't fully realize how many great songs he had written. There must be maybe 30 songs we all know and love, with some of the most famous being STORMY WEATHER, OVER THE RAINBOW, COME RAIN OR COME SHINE and BLUES IN THE NIGHT.And, of course, it was very interesting and fun to learn more about THE WIZARD OF OZ. Arlen composed the great songs with Yip Harburg, and they almost threw out OVER THE RAINBOW before they released the film.It was real treat to see a lot of different song writers in the program speaking about Arlen's work, and the roster of great singers like Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Judy Garland and Mel Tormé doing mostly defintive versions of his songs, was a real plus.But probably the most memorable aspect of the documentary is the very moving story about his life, which was both charmed and cursed at the same time.That's what makes this stand out from the usual biographies you see. There is a real feeling for his music, and a dramatic impact to his life story."
Harold Arlen must have come from Somewhere Over The Rainbow
John T. Borek | Grand Rapids, MI United States | 08/21/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"WOW, what a talent! Does everybody know what we are missing when great artists like this are not around any more? Too bad for us because we will never have this kind of song writer in our midst again. I've just ordered this on DVD because my VHS copy is no longer watchable. Two reasons to buy this DVD 1) Barbra Streisand sings "Any Place I Hang My Hat Is Home" and 2) Tony Bennett sings "So Long, Big Time" worth the money of the DVD and what a bargin it is at Amazon. Some of the current Rock Pop and R&B is okay but I've been listening to Harold Arlen since I was 13 years old. There are so many familiar songs that make you say "I didn't know he wrote that too"! If you like biographies then this one's for you. Plus Old Blue Eyes sings "One For My Baby" and what a treat that is."
Best songwriter documentary ever made
John T. Borek | 09/09/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Really a delight to see all these wonderful performers doing this calibre of song. the home movies, with views of Gershwin, Berlin, Kern, WC Handy, are revelatory. the personal story is very moving. but above all, it reminds us all of how great a composer he was. So many songs!"