Sweet and Low-Down (5-Sep-1944)|
Director: Archie Mayo
Writers: Richard English; Edward Haldeman
||Bespectacled jazz clarinetist
||Only Angels Have Wings
||The Little Rascals
||The Great Dictator
Review by anonymous (posted on 31-Jan-2007)
Released in 1944,this movie was a cautionary tale about a trombonist who,after having a taste of fame,leaves Benny Goodman's band to start his own band which ultimately failed in the long term. The main character was played by James Cardwell,an actor who seemed to have reached his zenith with this film which also starred Lynn Bari who played the female vocalist in Goodman's band. The movie starts out with a young kid appearing at a Goodman concert in Chicago(Goodman had done concerts at his alma mater Hull House,the institution where Goodman got his first lessons on clarinet by Franz Schoepp of the Chicago Symphony.His education also came from there)only to steal Goodman's clarinet and making Benny,his managers and a few others,chase him home.This was a rouse to get Goodman to hear his brother,a factory worker,who just happened to be practising his trombone.The trombonist heard was Bill Harris and the song heard was the then popular number "I'm Making Believe".Harris left Goodman due to poor reading problems but by 1945 overcame his sightreading problems and went on to a glorious but shortlived stay in Woody Herman's band. This movie was one I considered to be one of the better and more believeable films of its' time.As a rule,big band movies had ridiculous plots like being "booked" into some venue like a barn in the wilds of northern Canada.Woody Herman made such a movie in the early '40s.Lynn Bari builds up Cardwell's character into starting his own band.This was quite common:in 1939,the great tenor saxophonist Coleman Hawkins returned to the U.S. after a five year stay in Europe where he travelled throughout the continent with "pickup bands" some of which were made up of expatriot musicians(Benny Carter was one of them). Hawkins did start his own band in 1940 but quickly failed inside of several months.Hawkins did not have the personal discipline in himself to run a tight,well run crew.His band came about in pretty much the same manner Cardwell's band failed.The same managers who talked Cardwell's character into starting his own band also helped him sink the enterprise by giving him no publicity.Many bandleaders who had started out as featured soloists met this fate:Bunny Berigan,after a strong start,failed inside of three years.Pianist Bob Zurke,a veteran member of Bob Crosby's band,started his "Delta Rhythm Band" in 1939 only to see it crumble in 1940 due to his own drinking problems which were fueled by his ex-wife's lawsuits over delinquent alimony payments.Other factors in Zurke's demise as a leader were the drinking problems of several of the musicians. In the end,Cardwell's character returns to Goodman's band and he ends the film playing the song he made famous with Goodman.Sadly,Cardwell would take his life in 1954.The previous year,he managed to get a bit part in "Them".The reason for his death was given as dispondency over his failing movie career.
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