Four Great Song Writers, Who Happened To Be Women
C. O. DeRiemer | San Antonio, Texas, USA | 03/10/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Subtitled "The Women of Tin Pan Alley," it's a fascinating look at several women composers and lyric writers who managed to make a name for themselves in the Twenties and Thirties writing some great popular songs. This was the golden age of American song writing and, like everything else except marriage, was difficult for a woman to break into.
The program, one of the American Masters series on PBS, centers primarily on four women, now almost entirely forgotten except for Dorothy Fields, but all of whom wrote some great standards:
--Dorothy Fields, one the great lyric writers. Her career spanned the mid-Twenties well into the Sixties (collaborating with Cy Coleman on her last two shows, Sweet Charity and, in 1973, Two for the Seesaw). "I'm in the Mood for Love," "The Way You Look Tonight."
--Kay Swift, composer, very much her own woman yet deeply influenced by George Gershwin. "Can't We Be Friends?," "Fine and Dandy."
--Anne Ronell, composer, with a long, Hollywood career. "Willow Weep for Me," "Whose Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf."
--Dana Suesse, composer, who wrote everything from jazz symphonies to pop songs. "You Ought to Be in Pictures," "Whistling in the Dark."
If you're fond of well-written and literate songs, pretty much a thing of the past nowadays, this is a program that should interest you. It features their songs sung by people like Michael Feinstein and Betty Buckley, footage of singers like Ella Fitzgerald and Rosemary Clooney and a trove of historical clips. The program is only 55 minutes, so it's not able to do more than skim the subject matter. The DVD looks very good, including the old clips."