The Beat Goes On

Hollywood has churned out countless musical biographies on popular musicians, singers and songwriters over the years, jazz artists and their life stories have remained a virtually untapped genre with few exceptions (Bird, Clint Eastwood’s 1988 portrait of Charlie Parker, 2015’s Born to be Blue with Ethan Hawke as Chet Baker). There was a brief time in the fifties, however, where public interest in some of the big band legends and early jazz innovators resulted in a spate of high-profile biopics: The Glenn Miller Story [1953], The Benny Goodman Story [1955], and The Five Pennies [1959), starring Danny Kaye as jazz trumpeter Red Nichols. Coming at the end of the cycle was The Gene Krupa Story [1959] which featured Sal Mineo (twenty years old at the time) in his first adult screen role. 

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Cinerama Disaster

In the disaster film genre, Krakatoa, East of Java (1969) holds the distinction of being the only one presented in the Cinerama widescreen format but is also the most erroneously titled movie of all time. As many historians and movie critics have pointed out, Krakatoa is west of Java but veracity is not one of Hollywood’s strengths in producing historical epics. And Krakatoa, East of Java is not a factual recreation of the famous 1883 volcanic eruption in the Indian Ocean but a lavish B-movie adventure that uses the cataclysmic event only as the background and climactic resolution to its cavalcade of international stars and multiple subplots that play out as pure soap opera.  Continue reading