Glenn Miller Story, The (1954)

“It’s funny how you can miss a person even before he’s gone.”

Synopsis:
Bandleader Glenn Miller (Jimmy Stewart) romances his sweetheart (June Allyson) and — with her ongoing support — slowly achieves worldwide success as a unique musical talent.

Genres:

Review:
Anthony Mann’s biopic of bandleader Glenn Miller’s slow but substantial rise to success — culminating in his tragic disappearance during World War II, while entertaining troops abroad — is colorfully staged, well-directed, and features likable performances by the leads (Stewart looks eerily like Miller with glasses on). There’s quite a bit of focus on Miller’s romance with his would-be and then loyal wife (Allyson): his dogged confidence that she’s the right partner for him — despite not staying in touch for two years after college — nicely parallels his pursuit of the elusive sound he was striving for in his music (which he apparently stumbled upon after years of study, hard work, and experimentation). Unfortunately, there isn’t much natural tension in the storyline, given that we know Miller will ultimately succeed, and his marriage is portrayed as nothing but peachy-keen in the midst of life’s challenges (including a miscarriage). The best part of the movie by far is the soundtrack: his famous tunes are instantly engaging, and well performed. It’s easy to see why audiences of the day loved this movie and made it a box office hit.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Fun cameos by real-life musical legends
  • An effective portrayal of Miller’s creative process
  • A stand-out musical score (naturally!)

Must See?
No, though it’s certainly recommended for one-time viewing.

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One Response to “Glenn Miller Story, The (1954)”

  1. A once-must – for its place in cinema and music history, its overall (and rare) fidelity as a biopic, the direction and performances… and for simply being quite solid entertainment.

    As per my post in ‘The ’40s-’50s in Film’ (fb):

    “There’s no ‘maybe’ about it, Mr. Schribman – that’s it, that’s the sound.”

    ‘The Glenn Miller Story’ (1954): The poster (calling it “the sweetest story ever told”) gets this right – maybe not ‘the sweetest’ (whatever that is) but this is a very sweet story. Not the kind one expects from director Anthony Mann… who always seems more at home with westerns or noir. Here (and elsewhere) Mann shows he could make himself comfortable with a wide range in genres. And here he shows how to keep sentiment from turning overly sentimental. According to Wikipedia (from what I can gather), this biopic pretty much sticks to the facts (though there was apparently some minor fudging). The focus is not really on the story (though Miller’s rise to fame and his family life are covered adequately) but on A WHOLE LOT of that wonderful Glenn Miller music! James Stewart and June Allyson are very nicely subdued in the leads and the supporting cast makes for a nice blend. After Miller’s mom saw the film (reportedly), she was asked what she thought of it. She said it was fine… but that her son was much better-looking. 😉

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