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For over a hundred years some of the greatest video treasures of all time have been produced. Some have been lost in the sands of time and others, soon to be rediscovered, will become fan favorites for a whole new generation. Each week we will feature just one of the many hidden gems that you can see on RCN TV with insights and commentaries on classic television shows and legendary cinematic performances.
One of the great things about the internet is that young people can rediscover things from previous eras and stumble across genres they might never get to experience otherwise. Glenn Miller, Henry James, Count Basie and other stars of old standards from the big band era are now readily available to audiences on XM/Sirius Radio’s Junction; and other outlets as more and more young people are finding these golden classics for the first time.
Heck, there was even a report of a local football team using a polka song as its theme music last fall.
But no look into the music of the 1930s and & 40s would be complete without a serious discussion about Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey. Their accomplishments, creations and personal feud are all prominently featured in the 1946 film, “The Fabulous Dorseys.” Part documentary, part fiction and a surprising number of well-performed comedic lines make up this very entertaining film about two of the swing time era’s greatest legends.
The film spans the time from the boys’s upbringing in a small Pennsylvania town to their dominance around the world with their various musical masterpieces.
Jimmy Dorsey, primarily known for his work on the clarinet, was one of the major songwriters and big band leaders in the 1920s through the ‘40s. Probably his best remembered songs were “Pennies from Heaven” with fellow legends Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong and performing the original 1930 recording of “Georgia on My Mind”; Trombonist Tommy, known as the “Sentimental Gentleman of Swing”, is best remembered for tunes like “Song of India”, “Opus One”, “The Sunnyside of the Street”; and “I’ll Never Smile Again.”
And this film had no shortage of successful musical performances, complete with some of the best old standards like “Getting Sentimental Over You,” and the aforementioned “I’ll Never Smile Again”. The film also had smaller roles and cameos from other stars from the Big Band Era, including Paul Whitman, Bob Eberly, Helen O’Connell and famed pianist Art Tatum.
Sadly, nearly all of these former music greats have long since been forgotten. But through this film, their names live on. Tragically, both brothers died before their 57th birthdays within 10 years of the release of this movie.
The film was directed by Alfred E. Green (The Jackie Robinson Story & The Jolson Story) who successfully directed many performers-turned-actors playing themselves in films and, by this time, was well-known for bringing out an entertainer’s personality traits while not overplaying the star’s acting abilities and keeping their comedic lines within the context of the film.
You don’t have to be fans of old standards to enjoy this well-produced partial biopic that makes for a very entertaining story even without any previous knowledge of the Dorseys’ great history.
Tune in and dance along to this great look at the Big Band Era. “The Fabulous Dorseys” next airs on Tuesday, September 1 st , at 9 a.m. on RCN TV.
To view the complete rundown of classic programming on RCN TV, check out the weekly listings here on our website.