“It’s funny how you can miss a person even before he’s gone.”
Bandleader Glenn Miller (Jimmy Stewart) romances his sweetheart (June Allyson) and — with her ongoing support — slowly achieves worldwide success as a unique musical talent.
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!)
No, though it’s certainly recommended for one-time viewing.