Sweet and Low-Down (1944)

75 mins | Drama | September 1944

Director:

Archie Mayo

Writer:

Richard English

Producer:

William LeBaron

Cinematographer:

Lucien Ballard

Editor:

Dorothy Spencer

Production Designers:

Lyle Wheeler, Maurice Ransford

Production Company:

Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
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HISTORY

The working titles of this film were The King of Swing and Moment for Music . According to information in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department and Produced Scripts Collections, located at the UCLA Arts--Special Collections Library, Benny Goodman contributed to the original, unpublished screen story, "The King of Swing," by Richard English and Edward Haldeman, which was billed as a "musical biography" of Goodman. A 21 Jun 1943 HR news item noted that the studio had purchased Goodman's "life story" for production. Although Goodman, who was popularly known as the "king of swing," and several of his band members play themselves in the picture, it is not a biography of Goodman, and documents in the legal records indicate that he did not want the picture to be a strict biography. In 1956, Steve Allen portrayed the famous clarinetist in The Benny Goodman Story , which was directed by Valentine Davies for Universal-International.
       According to a Jun 1943 HR news item, Irving Cummings was originally set to direct the picture, and in early Jan 1944, HR noted that Gale Robbins had been set for the role of "Pat Sterling" and that Jane Ball was considered for the part of "Trudy Wilson." Although HR production charts include June Haver in the cast, she does not appear in the finished picture. Studio records indicate that a sequence with Goodman and his band performing "Stompin' at the Savoy," composed by Goodman, Chick Webb and Edgar Sampson, was photographed but not included in the released film. Apparently the scene was shown in trailers ... More Less

The working titles of this film were The King of Swing and Moment for Music . According to information in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department and Produced Scripts Collections, located at the UCLA Arts--Special Collections Library, Benny Goodman contributed to the original, unpublished screen story, "The King of Swing," by Richard English and Edward Haldeman, which was billed as a "musical biography" of Goodman. A 21 Jun 1943 HR news item noted that the studio had purchased Goodman's "life story" for production. Although Goodman, who was popularly known as the "king of swing," and several of his band members play themselves in the picture, it is not a biography of Goodman, and documents in the legal records indicate that he did not want the picture to be a strict biography. In 1956, Steve Allen portrayed the famous clarinetist in The Benny Goodman Story , which was directed by Valentine Davies for Universal-International.
       According to a Jun 1943 HR news item, Irving Cummings was originally set to direct the picture, and in early Jan 1944, HR noted that Gale Robbins had been set for the role of "Pat Sterling" and that Jane Ball was considered for the part of "Trudy Wilson." Although HR production charts include June Haver in the cast, she does not appear in the finished picture. Studio records indicate that a sequence with Goodman and his band performing "Stompin' at the Savoy," composed by Goodman, Chick Webb and Edgar Sampson, was photographed but not included in the released film. Apparently the scene was shown in trailers for the picture. James V. Monaco and Mack Gordon received an Academy Award nomination for their song "I'm Making Believe." More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
5 Aug 1944.
---
Daily Variety
3 Aug 44
p. 3.
Down Beat
15 Oct 44
p. 7.
Film Daily
7 Aug 44
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Jun 43
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Jun 43
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Dec 43
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Jan 44
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Jan 44
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Jan 44
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Jan 44
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Mar 44
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Mar 44
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Mar 44
p. 19.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Aug 44
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Oct 44
p. 14.
Los Angeles Examiner
22 Sep 1944.
---
Motion Picture Herald
9 Sep 1944.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
4 Mar 44
p. 1786.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
5 Aug 44
p. 2030.
New York Times
19 Oct 44
p. 19.
Variety
2 Aug 44
p. 10.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Orig story
Orig story
Orig story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Spec photog eff
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Props
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus dir
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
STAND INS
Trombone double for James Cardwell
SOURCES
MUSIC
"I've Found a New Baby" by Jack Palmer and Spencer Williams
"Jersey Bounce," by Bobby Plater, Edward Johnson and Tiny Bradshaw
"No Love, No Nothing," "Down Argentine Way" and "I, Yi, Yi, Yi, Yi (I Like You Very Much)," music by Harry Warren
+
MUSIC
"I've Found a New Baby" by Jack Palmer and Spencer Williams
"Jersey Bounce," by Bobby Plater, Edward Johnson and Tiny Bradshaw
"No Love, No Nothing," "Down Argentine Way" and "I, Yi, Yi, Yi, Yi (I Like You Very Much)," music by Harry Warren
"Ten Days with Baby," music by James V. Monaco
"Let's Dance" by Joseph Bonime and Gregory Stone
"The World Is Waiting for the Sunrise" by Ernest Seitz
"Rachel's Dream" by Benny Goodman
"Quintet in A Major for Clarinet" by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, arranged by Benny Goodman.
+
SONGS
"I'm Making Believe," "Ten Days with Baby," "Chug Chug Choo-Choo Chug" and "Hey Bub! Let's Have a Ball," music and lyrics by Mack Gordon and James Monaco.
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Moment for Music
The King of Swing
Release Date:
September 1944
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 21 September 1944
Production Date:
24 January--mid March 1944
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
7 August 1944
Copyright Number:
LP12823
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
75
Length(in feet):
6,810
Length(in reels):
8
Country:
United States
PCA No:
10002
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

When clarinetist Benny Goodman and his band play their annual free concert at Chicago's Dearborn Settlement House, where Benny grew up, feisty youngster Tony Birch asks the famous musician to come to his house to listen to his older brother Johnny play trombone. When Benny demurs, Tony grabs his clarinet and dashes through the streets until he arrives at the Birch family's tenement apartment. Benny and his manager, Popsy, and pianist, Jess Stacy, are in hot pursuit, but when they hear Johnny play, their anger is forgotten and Benny and Jess jam with the talented young man. Benny offers Johnny a job, which the suspicious Johnny at first rejects, but his mother convinces him to accept. Popsy, who had wanted to become the band's next trombonist, is upset, but puts up with Benny's whim and introduces Johnny to the other band members at the train station. On the train, Johnny bumps into Pat Sterling, who he assumes is an autograph hound until Popsy reveals that she is the band's vocalist. After Johnny apologizes, Benny warns the flirtatious, sophisticated Pat to leave the naïve Johnny alone. The next day, the band prepares to perform at a military ball and are stunned when their host "General Carmichael" greets them and turns out to be a teenager from the local military academy. Benny gracefully sticks to his commitment, however, and Carmichael brings his adult aunt, Trudy Wilson, who calls him by his nickname, "Mogie," convinces Trudy to dress younger so that the other fellows will not know he does not have a real date. When she appears in her adolescent garb, even Benny, who knows ... +


When clarinetist Benny Goodman and his band play their annual free concert at Chicago's Dearborn Settlement House, where Benny grew up, feisty youngster Tony Birch asks the famous musician to come to his house to listen to his older brother Johnny play trombone. When Benny demurs, Tony grabs his clarinet and dashes through the streets until he arrives at the Birch family's tenement apartment. Benny and his manager, Popsy, and pianist, Jess Stacy, are in hot pursuit, but when they hear Johnny play, their anger is forgotten and Benny and Jess jam with the talented young man. Benny offers Johnny a job, which the suspicious Johnny at first rejects, but his mother convinces him to accept. Popsy, who had wanted to become the band's next trombonist, is upset, but puts up with Benny's whim and introduces Johnny to the other band members at the train station. On the train, Johnny bumps into Pat Sterling, who he assumes is an autograph hound until Popsy reveals that she is the band's vocalist. After Johnny apologizes, Benny warns the flirtatious, sophisticated Pat to leave the naïve Johnny alone. The next day, the band prepares to perform at a military ball and are stunned when their host "General Carmichael" greets them and turns out to be a teenager from the local military academy. Benny gracefully sticks to his commitment, however, and Carmichael brings his adult aunt, Trudy Wilson, who calls him by his nickname, "Mogie," convinces Trudy to dress younger so that the other fellows will not know he does not have a real date. When she appears in her adolescent garb, even Benny, who knows Trudy's family, is surprised. Despite his nervousness, Johnny performs well, especially in the solos that Benny generously allows him. Benny confides in Trudy that he is worried that Johnny has the "wrong kind of confidence" and will easily be misled by Pat. Benny introduces Trudy to Johnny, hoping that she will win him away from Pat, but Johnny assumes that she is a teenager and Trudy laughingly perpetuates the charade. Later, Benny asks Trudy to visit the band in New York, but when she arrives, the jealous Pat tries to keep Johnny away from her. When he talks with Trudy, however, Johnny is impressed by her kindness and takes her to a jam session. Benny, knowing that Johnny is not ready, gently tells him not to join in, but Johnny gets angry and storms out. Trudy chastises Johnny for his temper, but the arrogant young man asserts that he is determined to become famous so that he can rise to her social level. As three months pass, Johnny's fame and ego grow, until one day, Pat takes him to meet her slick agent, Lester Barnes. Hoping to make a quick buck, Les asks Johnny to leave Benny and start his own band with Pat as his vocalist. Johnny agrees, although his family and Popsy criticize him for leaving Benny. Johnny steals Benny's musicians as well, and although business is good at first, Johnny does not have the appeal that Benny does and the crowds desert them. The men and Pat return to Benny, and although Johnny realizes the mistake he has made, he returns to Chicago and resumes his factory work. Later, Benny and the band play at the Settlement House, and Popsy goes to visit Johnny. The humbled musician admits that he should have treated Benny and Trudy better but still refuses to return to the band. Popsy finally carries Johnny to Benny's concert, and there, Johnny reconciles with both Benny and Trudy. +

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.