“Little Brown Jug” has become a staple of ReelCast from it’s inception. It’s also the emotional hinge that The Glenn Miller Story turns on.
Bandleader Glenn Miller (James Stewart) looks for his sound. He finds it and strikes a chord with an old college sweetheart (June Allyson) to boot.
One of the highlights of the film is Louis Armstrong playing and scatting “Basin Street Blues.” The music sells the film, the story isn’t quite as compelling as the big band music and cameo appearances by band singers and bandleaders of Miller’s era. What the film does brilliantly is feature the music and makes you want to take out 78 recordings of the originals and melt alongside the clarinet lead, perhaps on the arm of your favorite dancing partner.
By focusing on the romance between Glenn Miller and his wife, the screen tribute may be a little sweeter, but probably not as interesting as it would be to reach a little deeper and really take a look at the relationships between the musicians and the band singers were like, because although it catches bits of the lifestyle and makes reference to it when Allyson’s character is sick, it doesn’t quite have that smokey jam session flavor that could make the film a little more edgy–and a little more real.
It’s by far the most cheerful of the three Stewart-Allyson films. A lovely film with a brilliant soundtrack, an easy and lovable plot, and happy-go-lucky end that may bring a few tears, The Glenn Miller Story is a tribute with a bit of artistic license to it’s namesake in both tenor and content.