Musical Monday: The Eddy Duchin Story (1956)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 600. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

eddy duchinThis week’s musical:
The Eddy Duchin Story (1956) – Musical #697

Studio:
Columbia Pictures

Director:
George Sidney

Starring:
Tyrone Power, Kim Novak, Victoria Thompson, James Whitmore, Rex Thompson, Mickey Maga, Frieda Inescort, Shepperd Strudwick, Gloria Holden, Larry Keating, John Mylong
Themselves: Xavier Cugat

Plot:
Starting in 1927 until his 1951 death, the film follows pianist and bandleader Eddy Duchin (Power). It shows his rise in fame and marriage to his wife, Marjorie Oelrichs (Novak). When a tragedy occurs in his family, Eddy grieves alone and is separated from his son Peter (Maga, Thompson) for many years. He works to rebuild their relationship.

Trivia:
• Pianist Carmen Cavallaro dubbed Tyrone Power’s piano playing.
• Working title was “Music by Duchin.”
• Pianist Nat Brandywine worked with Eddy Duchin and appears in the film, and coached Tyrone Power’s piano playing.
• Peter Duchin wrote that Tyrone Power and Eddy Duchin were friends. Duchin also wrote that Cary Grant and Van Johnson, also friends of his father, were considered for the role.
• The film was originally considered as a vehicle for Edmond Purdom.

eddy duchin4

Highlights:
• The Technicolor filmography

Notable Songs:
• “Manhattan”
• “It Must Be True (You Are Mine, All Mine)”
• “Whispering”
• “Dizzy Fingers”
• “You’re My Everything”
• “Brazil”

eddy duchin2

My review:
As biographical films were made about bandleaders and musicians in the 1950s, one musician featured was pianist and bandleader Eddie Duchin just a few years after his death.

While the film on Duchin follows the musical biopic of the time, it has a different feel than the movies about Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Red Nichols, or Gene Krupa.

Filmed on location in New York City in vibrant Technicolor, THE EDDY DUCHIN STORY has a rich, lush feel.

Just five years after Eddy Duchin’s death, his son Peter Duchin called the film a “labor of friendship” from the producers of the film and his late father.

The film begins in 1927 when pianist Eddy Duchin arrives in New York City looking for a job. Duchin meets socialite Marjorie Oelrichs. Duchin and Marjorie marry and he finds success with his own band. However, while Duchin is at the top, he finds personal tragedy after the birth of his son, Peter. He enlists in the Navy during World War II, and when he returns, has to rebuild his relationship with Peter.

eddy duchin storyTyrone Power gives an excellent performance as Eddy Duchin, who was also a friend of Power, according to Peter Duchin. Power develops the character from a grinning eager young man, to an adult dealing with grief. In the sad scenes, Power plays the role with great sensitivity. He also does a great job of mimicking playing the piano.

Power’s piano playing is dubbed by pianist Carmen Cavallaro. Cavalarro was a special favorite of my grandmother’s so I enjoyed hearing his versions of the songs.

Kim Novak is also wonderful, playing a much different character than the sexy ice queens she was cast as. Her makeup is even more subdued to portray a sweeter, more refined character.

There is a very sweet scene where Power and Novak are dancing while she’s pregnant and he says, “Shall we dance, just the three of us?”

The film is also visually stunning. The on-location New York City shots are gorgeous. The film uses color so well: Kim Novak wearing bright red against a gloomy, rainy day. Bright pink hats and gloves worn by the bridesmaids at their wedding. It’s all so stunning.

Of course, there are some inaccuracies in the film, which Peter Duchin has also written about. For example, Peter was born in July, but in the film he’s born at Christmas. Peter Duchin became a famous pianist in his own right.

THE EDDY DUCHIN STORY is a beautiful, sad film. But Tyrone Power — while excellent — in the lead playing a doomed character, has a sad poignancy as Power was dead just two years after this film was released.

While I can’t say this is a happy film, it is quite lovely and worth your time.

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1 thought on “Musical Monday: The Eddy Duchin Story (1956)

  1. My mother’s favorite movie and a beloved one for me as well. Here in Brazil it’s called “Melodia Imortal” ( Immortal Melody). Lovely review. Thank you!

    Like

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