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the eddy duchin story, biographical film, biography, review, biopic

The Eddy Duchin Story (1956) 

After the runaway success of The Glenn Miller Story, Hollywood started churning out biopics of other bandleaders, including Benny Goodman, 'Red' Nichols and Gene Krupa. The Eddy Duchin Story finds itself in the middle of this cycle, both chronologically and artistically. Though the film looks great and features an appealing lead performance, some of the dialogue is extremely clunky despite contributions from Moss Hart and Clifford Odets. Nevertheless, the intrinsic drama of Duchin’s life story compensates for the film's many shortfalls, as does the fine representation of his artistry at the piano.

Arriving in New York under the mistaken belief a job awaits him, Eddy Duchin is rescued by socialite Marjorie Oelrichs who arranges for him to play during the intermission of her events. Duchin’s fame starts to rise in concert with his romance with Marjorie, so by the time he’s leading his own band, the two have married and have a child on the way.  Then tragedy strikes, leaving Duchin unable, or unwilling, to parent his son.

Unlike Jimmy Stewart, who managed to get away with portraying a young Glenn Miller, Tyrone Power’s attempts at portraying the youthful exuberance of Duchin lend a degree of artifice to the film’s early scenes. This is magnified by co-star Kim Novak, who once again overacts in her typical stilted manner. Rex Thompson and Victoria Shaw do little to improve matters in their respective roles.

However, once Power is no longer called upon to act half his age, he manages to carry the film with his indefatigable charm. His convincing mimicry of Duchin’s unique playing style is exceptional, with the musical numbers ‘Dizzy Fingers’ and ‘Brasil’ being highlights. An unexpected treat is a sequence in which Eddy and Marjorie stroll through Central Park, a sequence apparently ad-libbed while the crew were on strike. Rarely has New York been filmed so lovingly.

Tyrone Power, Eddy Duchin
fact check, factcheck, fact vs fiction, inaccuracies, true story

Marjorie Duchin died six days after giving birth, not on the same day as the film suggests.

Peter Duchin was born in July, not during Christmas.

The character of Sherman Wadsworth is based on W. Averall Harriman, who was Secretary of Commerce under President Truman and a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1952 and 1956. At the time The Eddy Duchin Story was released, Harriman was serving as the 48th Governor of New York.

No mention is made of Eddy Duchin's appearances in film.

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