Time: 115 mins.
Rating: Not Rated
Won Academy Award for Best Sound. Nominations for Best Score and Best Screenplay.
BOTTOM LINE: Fans of jazz/swing music will probably find this film more enjoyable than other viewers. Stewart gives a touching performance as the famous band leader Miller, but this fairly white-washed version of his life leaves nothing much except the music to enjoy. Miller's pursuit of Helen, played by the lovely June Allyson, brings a spark of humor and romance to the film, but not enough to keep the meandering pace moving. The film focuses on Miller's career from the lean years as a travelling trombone player to his rising success as America's favorite band leader. The road to riches for Miller was a long one with one driving force to discover a signature sound all his own.
A twist of fate delivers that miracle and sends him on his way to eternal acclaim. Unfortunately, his career is cut short by the second World War. He enlists even though he doesn't have to and becomes a casualty, leaving the world with only a small taste of how great his legacy could have been had he lived longer. The better part of the film is spent on the playing of his tunes, which is a real treat for music afficianadoes. If you actually want to learn about Miller's life, you'll have to find that info elsewhere. The story barely scratches the surface, making him out to be a nice guy with a dream of something different. That may be the truth, but it's not entertaining enough to fill two hours. Stewart fans won't be disappointed, others are sure to be bored.