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HISTORY

The closing credits include the following written statement: "We gratefully acknowledge the cooperation of the Armed Forces of the United States of America." As portrayed in the film, Glenn Miller (1904--1944) rose to fame first as a trombonist and then as a big band leader in the 1930s and 1940s. On 15 Dec. 1944, he disappeared while on a military flight from London to Paris. For more information on Miller's life and career, see the entry for Orchestra Wives in the AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50 .
       After Universal-International bought the rights to Miller's life story from his widow, Mrs. Helen Miller, an Aug 1952 LAEx article stated that Tyrone Power and Gregory Peck were being considered to star in the film. A Jul 1953 HR "Rambling Reporter" column reported that Dinah Shore had been offered the role of "Helen Burger" but refused it. According to studio press information, Mrs. Miller personally approved the casting of James Stewart and lent him her husband's glasses and trombone to use in the film. Press materials identify the following Colorado locations used in the film: University of Colorado, Boulder; Denver Civic Center; Lowry Air Force Base and the Elitch Gardens Ballroom. Although Babe Russin is the only Glenn Miller Orchestra member to appear in the film, a May 1953 DV news item states that original band members Chummy MacGregor, Hal McIntyre, Willie Schwartz, Dick Fisher, Paul Tanner, Zeke Zarchy, Conrad Gozzo and Rolly Bundock contributed to the film's score. HR news items add Britt Wood to the cast and, in her feature film debut, Jimmy Dorsey's daughter Julie, but their ... More Less

The closing credits include the following written statement: "We gratefully acknowledge the cooperation of the Armed Forces of the United States of America." As portrayed in the film, Glenn Miller (1904--1944) rose to fame first as a trombonist and then as a big band leader in the 1930s and 1940s. On 15 Dec. 1944, he disappeared while on a military flight from London to Paris. For more information on Miller's life and career, see the entry for Orchestra Wives in the AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50 .
       After Universal-International bought the rights to Miller's life story from his widow, Mrs. Helen Miller, an Aug 1952 LAEx article stated that Tyrone Power and Gregory Peck were being considered to star in the film. A Jul 1953 HR "Rambling Reporter" column reported that Dinah Shore had been offered the role of "Helen Burger" but refused it. According to studio press information, Mrs. Miller personally approved the casting of James Stewart and lent him her husband's glasses and trombone to use in the film. Press materials identify the following Colorado locations used in the film: University of Colorado, Boulder; Denver Civic Center; Lowry Air Force Base and the Elitch Gardens Ballroom. Although Babe Russin is the only Glenn Miller Orchestra member to appear in the film, a May 1953 DV news item states that original band members Chummy MacGregor, Hal McIntyre, Willie Schwartz, Dick Fisher, Paul Tanner, Zeke Zarchy, Conrad Gozzo and Rolly Bundock contributed to the film's score. HR news items add Britt Wood to the cast and, in her feature film debut, Jimmy Dorsey's daughter Julie, but their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. Lisa Gaye and Cicily Carter made their feature film debuts in The Glenn Miller Story . The film also marked the final screen appearance of Frances Langford (1914--2005), who appeared as herself. Langford, a well-known singer and radio star of the 1930s and 1940s, became one of the most popular performers to entertain combat troops during World War II, most often accompanying Bob Hope on his USO tours.
       Two early visits to a pawnshop were filmed in downtown Los Angeles, next to the Angels Flight funicular railway.
       The film received rave reviews, with the DV review faulting it only for the absence of singer-band leader Tex Beneke, "who gained band fame with Miller and led the outfit for several years after the maestro's death." The Glenn Miller Story received Academy Award nominations for Best Music (Scoring Musical Picture) and Best Writing (Story and Screenplay). Leslie I. Carey won the Oscar for Best Sound Recording.
       The DV review noted that after the picture's release, RCA-Victor, which released Miller's recording during his lifetime, produced a tie-in album of Miller's greatest hits, even though Universal typically marketed promotional albums through Decca Records. According to an Oct 1954 Var item, Mrs. Miller sued Universal over the soundtrack release, claiming that she sold only the film production rights to Miller's music. The disposition of this suit is not known. According to a Dec 1961 LAMirror story Mrs. Miller, who received a percentage of the film's profits, sued the studio again in an attempt to obtain a full accounting of the profits, but her suit was rejected by the New York Supreme Court. An Aug 1952 HR news item announced that Miller's friend, Edward Kirby, was to act as the advisor on the film. Kirby is not listed in the onscreen credits, and sued Universal for $250,000 in 1954 for breach of contract. A Jun 1954 DV article stated that Kirby claimed to have originated the idea for the picture and signed over rights for $3,000 after being told that he would be compensated later. In Jun 1956, DV reported that the suit was settled out of court for an undisclosed sum.
       Universal re-released The Glenn Miller Story in 1960 and again in 1985 for the Cannes Film Festival's "Homage to James Stewart." For the Cannes release, the picture was updated with a Dolby stereo soundtrack. According to modern sources, as part of the film's publicity campaign, a time capsule was buried underneath the Miami Beach, FL Carib Theatre, containing the screenplay, Mrs. Miller's pearls, and a nightclub menu. Although the theater was subsequently torn down, the capsule was discovered on 26 Dec 1996, when construction workers were building a new structure. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
9 Jan 1954.
---
Daily Variety
14 May 1953.
---
Daily Variety
6 Jan 54
p. 3.
Daily Variety
28 Jun 1954.
---
Daily Variety
12 Jun 1956.
---
Daily Variety
10 Mar 1960.
---
Film Daily
6 Jan 54
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Aug 52
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Jun 53
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Jun 53
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Jun 53
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Jul 53
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Jul 53
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Jul 53
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Aug 53
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Jan 54
p. 3.
Los Angeles Examiner
1 Aug 1952.
---
Los Angeles Mirror
8 Dec 1961.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
9 Jan 54
p. 2133.
New York Times
11 Feb 54
p. 33.
Variety
6 Mar 54
p. 52.
Variety
14 Oct 1954.
---
Variety
22 May 1955.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus adpt
DANCE
Dance dir
MAKEUP
Hairstylist
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Tech consultant
Tech consultant
Unit prod mgr
STAND INS
James Stewart's trombone coach and stand-in
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor col consultant
SOURCES
MUSIC
"Love Theme" by Henry Mancini
"American Patrol" by F. W. Meacham, arranged by Jerry Gray
"National Emblem (March)" by E. E. Bagley
+
MUSIC
"Love Theme" by Henry Mancini
"American Patrol" by F. W. Meacham, arranged by Jerry Gray
"National Emblem (March)" by E. E. Bagley
"A String of Pearls" by Eddie de Lange and Jerry Gray
"In the Mood" by Andy Razaf and Joseph Garland
"Over the Rainbow" by Harold Arlen
"Tuxedo Junction" by Buddy Feyne, William Johnson, Erskin Hawkins and Julian Dash
"Little Brown Jug" by Joseph E. Winner, arranged by Bill Finegan
"I Know Why" by Harry Warren
"In the Mood" by Joseph Garland
"St. Louis Blues" by W. C. Handy, arranged by Jerry Gray and "At Last" by Harry Warren.
+
SONGS
"Moonlight Serenade," words by Mitchell Parish, music by Glenn Miller
"Basin Street Blues," words and music by Spencer Williams
"Pennsylvania 6-5000," words and music by Carl Sigman and Jerry Gray
+
SONGS
"Moonlight Serenade," words by Mitchell Parish, music by Glenn Miller
"Basin Street Blues," words and music by Spencer Williams
"Pennsylvania 6-5000," words and music by Carl Sigman and Jerry Gray
"Chattanooga Choo Choo," words by Mack Gordon, music by Harry Warren and "Bidin' My Time," words by Ira Gershwin, music by George Gershwin.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
February 1954
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 10 February 1954
Los Angeles opening: 17 February 1954
Production Date:
5 June--late July 1953
Copyright Claimant:
Universal Pictures Co., inc.
Copyright Date:
9 December 1953
Copyright Number:
LP3172
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
115-116
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In East Los Angeles in the 1920s, Alton Glenn Miller fends off poverty by repeatedly hocking his trombone from pawnshop owner W. Kranz and then buying it back when he earns a little money. While attending yet another musician-for-hire job with his best friend, pianist Chummy MacGregor, Glenn is thrown out yet again for playing his jazzy arrangements. Soon after, Kranz informs them that Ben Pollack is holding tryouts for his band the next week. Hoping to sell his arrangements, Glenn leaves his trombone and brings only his work to Ben, who spurns them. After Chummy slips them to an auditioning musician, however, Ben hires Glenn immediately. With his advance, Glenn buys faux pearls for his college sweetheart, Helen Burger, but when the band tours near her Denver, Colorado home a few weeks later, Helen, who has not heard from Glenn in two years, barely remembers him. Undaunted, Glenn insists that she meet him after his job that evening, but by midnight, Glenn has not appeared and a furious Helen goes to sleep. Three hours later, Glenn wakes her outside her window, quickly charming her into driving to his parents' house nearby. At the Millers', Helen is surprised to discover that the whole family considers her Glenn's girl friend. They then visit their alma mater, the University of Colorado, where, to Glenn's chagrin, Helen admits that her favorite song is "Little Brown Jug." Although Helen begins to fall for his sincerity and passion for creating a new style of music, Glenn races off to join Chummy, promising only to call from the road. Two years later, Ben's band is gaining in popularity and moving from New York to Atlantic ... +


In East Los Angeles in the 1920s, Alton Glenn Miller fends off poverty by repeatedly hocking his trombone from pawnshop owner W. Kranz and then buying it back when he earns a little money. While attending yet another musician-for-hire job with his best friend, pianist Chummy MacGregor, Glenn is thrown out yet again for playing his jazzy arrangements. Soon after, Kranz informs them that Ben Pollack is holding tryouts for his band the next week. Hoping to sell his arrangements, Glenn leaves his trombone and brings only his work to Ben, who spurns them. After Chummy slips them to an auditioning musician, however, Ben hires Glenn immediately. With his advance, Glenn buys faux pearls for his college sweetheart, Helen Burger, but when the band tours near her Denver, Colorado home a few weeks later, Helen, who has not heard from Glenn in two years, barely remembers him. Undaunted, Glenn insists that she meet him after his job that evening, but by midnight, Glenn has not appeared and a furious Helen goes to sleep. Three hours later, Glenn wakes her outside her window, quickly charming her into driving to his parents' house nearby. At the Millers', Helen is surprised to discover that the whole family considers her Glenn's girl friend. They then visit their alma mater, the University of Colorado, where, to Glenn's chagrin, Helen admits that her favorite song is "Little Brown Jug." Although Helen begins to fall for his sincerity and passion for creating a new style of music, Glenn races off to join Chummy, promising only to call from the road. Two years later, Ben's band is gaining in popularity and moving from New York to Atlantic City, but Glenn remains behind, hoping to work on his arrangements with the help of band booker Don Haynes. Soon, Glenn is back to pawning his trombone, and accepts an offer to play in an orchestra for a musical play. One night, upon hearing "Little Brown Jug," Glenn calls Helen and asks her to come to New York that night to get married. Although she responds that she is engaged to another man, Glenn, ignoring her protests, urges her to call the number Pennsylvania 6-5000 when she arrives. Helen is at first disdainful, but, drawn to Glenn, soon finds herself on a train to New York. There, Glenn sweeps her over to their impromptu wedding service, and that night after Glenn's show, the couple return to their honeymoon suite to discover that the boys in the band have arranged a night out at Connie's Inn in Harlem. At the club, Glenn joins jazz greats such as Louis Armstrong and Gene Krupa onstage, finally carrying Helen over the threshold around dawn. Months later, Glenn is working steadily as a musician, but Helen prompts him to return to his dream of arranging. With her encouragement, he begins studying new compositions and writes "Moonlight Serenade." They are dismayed, however, when the song is converted into a nightclub number, and Helen convinces Glenn that he should form his own band. He, Chummy and Don put together a budget that seems unattainable, but Helen calmly reveals that she has been saving for the "Glenn Miller Band Fund" for years. Six months later, the band is barely breaking even, and Glenn despairs that he may never find the special sound for which he is searching. When their truck breaks just before a job at Boston's State Ballroom, Glenn stays behind, and later discovers that it has been cancelled and Helen is in the hospital, having collapsed from an exhaustion-induced miscarriage. Although the doctor declares that Helen can no longer bear children, Glenn promises that they will have a boy and a girl. The next day, State Ballroom owner Si Schribman visits Helen and, sorry for having cancelled the band, agrees to book them for an upcoming date. Glenn insists upon hiring a large band, and with Si's backing, tries out new arrangements. The night before they open, the trumpeter cuts his lip, and when Glenn replaces him with the clarinetist on "Moonlight Serenade," he finally achieves his unique sound, and a standing ovation. Over the next years, Glenn's sound sweeps the country, propelling his records to the top of the charts and providing Glenn, Helen and their adopted son Stevie with a luxuriant life style. On the couple's tenth anniversary, Glenn and Helen each plan a surprise for the other: Helen introduces Glenn to his new adopted daughter, and he throws her a party at which he plays his new song, "Pennsylvania 6-5000," and presents her with a small brown jug as a gift. Later, as Glenn scores a Hollywood film, Helen delivers the War Office letter which designates Glenn as an Army captain, and supports his decision to travel overseas to play for the troops. At first, Glenn is forced to lead the Army band in dull marching tunes, but when he spices up the marches, an impressed Gen. Arnold promotes him to bandleader. Assigned to London, Glenn bids his family a tearful goodbye at the airport, promising to "be right back." Overseas, the soldiers cheer as Glenn bravely leads the band amid air raids and falling bombs. While the war rages, through the invasion of France, D-day and the Allied liberation of Paris, Glenn writes to Helen about his postwar plans, and urges her to listen to his Christmas broadcast from Paris. On 15 Dec. 1944, he boards the flight from London to Paris, but the plane never lands. Just before Christmas, Helen receives the news that Glenn has disappeared, and, though devastated, listens to the Parisian broadcast with the children, Chummy and Si. When she hears Glenn's band playing his newest jazz arrangement of "Little Brown Jug," Helen realizes that Glenn's music and legacy will remain long after his death. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.