When Columbia Had Dizzy Fingers
The Eddy Duchin Story (1956) A Crowd-Pleaser Still
|Winchell Warns Chicago: Bring Tissue!|
Kim Novak is the survivor cast member (there's also Rex Thompson --- what became of him?) and makes frequent landing at classic fests, but always with Vertigo, which is odd, because crowds would enjoy The Eddy Duchin Story a lot more. Vertigo continues to be respected, but is there pleasure in watching for a general audience? Hitchcock scholars have nulled what fun it had by dissecting the thing to parsley, with coup de grace of selection as All-Time #1 (how intimidating is that?). The Eddy Duchin Story would be ideal for a next TCM Festival. Or even better on their cruise. Everyone could get misty, cry outright, or hook up with others unattached on the boat. Part of why The Eddy Duchin Story works is gatekeepers not having found it, thus no academic burden and pollute that implies. I quote what one civilian viewer said after a Greenbriar screening: If all old movies are good as this, I should watch more of them.
Rediscovery is helped by digital rescue. For years, The Eddy Duchin Story looked rotten on TV crop/scan cycle. Then a laser disc parted curtains. DVD and now Blu-Ray did the rest. I agree that most bio-pics are hoke, or packs of lies, but somehow this one is different. To start, it stays with at least surface of fact (son Peter Duchin reveals fallacies in his book, but they're not severe, at least not in comparison with other music-men recounts). To casting, Tyrone Power is too old to be young Eddy, but ideal for a second half's mature Duchin. Since the pic covers a whole career, we can't have it both ways. This has to be Ty's most appealing late performance. He's earnest, dreamy in that way that brought fame since the 30's, and oh, what he does with those keys. Little of piano stuff is faked beyond Carmen Cavallaro supplying the actual track, Duchin's device being an essential same as when Al Jolson put voice to Larry Parks performance for The Jolson Story. So it's Tyrone Power's hands we see, the result, said publicity, of the actor training over three months of seven hours per day at the keyboard (would this not make at least a competent pianist of anyone?). There's a great gotcha moment where the camera lingers close on fingers, us thinking it's Cavallaro doubling, then the pull-back, and ... Tyrone Power. I'll bet that earned applause in a lot of first-run situations.
Query put to a 1956 public: Why Aren't There More Movies Like This?
|Romance Push to Drive-Ins|
|Eddy Duchin and Orchestra Make a 1938 Theatre Appearance|
Eddy Duchin had been gone five years when The Eddy Duchin Story came out. He was known as a "society" bandleader of "sweet," as opposed to swing, sounds, and reached a wide audience thanks to radio he commanded from the 30's, plus theatre appearances where his band preceded first-run movies. Duchin had looks plus sophistication and moneyed connections. He was, in fact, like Tyrone Power in many respects. There's a fun trailer for The Eddy Duchin Story hosted by Power where he speaks of having been a "close personal friend" of Duchin's. In addition, Eddy had once-upon-time taught piano to the film's director, George Sidney, and producer Jerry Wald (who still hasn't gotten due for many excellent pics he guided) was a Duchin booster from early days in