The Fabulous Dorseys (1947)
The Good, The Bad and The Fabulous
I've seen better, I've seen worse but thanks to great music and great singing "The Fabulous Dorseys" is still an entertaining movie. That seems to be the collective thought when it comes to this biopic about Tommy & Jimmy Dorsey because whilst this is a movie dogged with issues from the fact Tommy & Jimmy Dorsey star but can't act to those who can act laying it on thick the wonderful music, the musical cameos and the singing of Janet Blair makes it still entertaining at least for the ears.
Now I am no aficionado on Tommy & Jimmy Dorsey and whilst well aware of the brother's notoriety for fighting and feuding I don't know how accurate this movie is to their real story. I would imagine that whilst the Dorsey brothers star some parts probably have been altered to work better in the context of drama which is as expected. But what we get is a good story which takes us from their childhood where there father pushed them to be great musicians as he didn't want them to follow him down the mines and in this story we also see how neighbour Jane was like a sister to them. We also witness their fighting and feuding which in many ways is the focus of the movie because whilst we watch the rise of the brothers as musicians we witness how destructive they were together leading to a well documented parting when Tommy walked off stage over a row about tempo leading to a long separation. Whilst all this is going on we also get the story of Jane, her commitment to the hot tempered brothers and the problem that causes when it came to her relationship with a piano player.
Unfortunately whilst the story is good with some nice witty moments there is also the bad and unfortunately that comes down to the fact that Tommy & Jimmy Dorsey whilst exceptional musicians couldn't act or at least act in lead roles. It is at times uncomfortable to watch when they are the main focus of a scene and surprisingly it is just as uncomfortable when it comes to Sara Allgood and Arthur Shields who play their parents and lay on the heaviest Irish accent you will ever hear. There are some exceptions and that is mainly Janet Blair as Jane because she does do her best to make up for the acting insufficiencies elsewhere and to be honest sings brilliantly.
And that brings me to the fabulous because in the end "The Fabulous Dorseys" is a movie which becomes all about the music, from a fun early scene of the Dorseys as boys playing at a local music hall to them playing with their own bands as adults. Add to that a variety of cameos from other musicians leading to some really enjoyable musical numbers and some wonderful singing which is good with Janet Blair but is out of this world when you get Helen O'Connell's sexy rendition of "Green Eyes".
What this all boils down to is that "The Fabulous Dorseys" ends up hit n miss. The basic mix of biography and story is good as it gets across the brothers feuding nature and relationship but the acting leaves a lot to be desired which is thankfully made up by some great music and it is the music which makes "The Fabulous Dorseys" entertaining.
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