The Eddy Duchin Story (1956)

122-123 mins | Biography | July 1956

Director:

George Sidney

Producer:

Jerry Wald

Cinematographer:

Harry Stradling

Production Designer:

Walter Holscher

Production Company:

Columbia Pictures Corp.
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HISTORY

The working title of this film was Music by Duchin . Eddy Duchin (10 Apr 1910—9 Feb 1951), began his career in 1928 with Leo Reisman’s orchestra at New York’s Central Park Casino. Duchin’s flashy style and suave demeanor quickly made him the most popular member of the group. Duchin was noted for crossing his hands and playing the lower register with only one finger. Peter, Eddy’s son, was born in 1937. After Peter’s mother, socialite Marjorie Oelrichs, died following his birth, the boy was placed in the custody of Mr. and Mrs. Averell Harriman, his parents’ best friends, who cared for the boy until his father returned from serving in World War II. Peter lived with his father and stepmother Chiquita until his father died from leukemia in 1951. In the film, Eddy’s illness is not identified as leukemia. Peter went on to become a pianist, society band leader and composer in his own right.
       Nat Brandywine, who appears as himself in the film, was Duchin’s fellow pianist at the casino. According to a May 1956 HR news item, Brandywine coached Tyrone Power in his piano playing. According to a Jun 1954 HR news item, M-G-M originally wanted to purchase Leo Katcher's screen treatment of Duchin's life as a starring vehicle for Edmond Purdom, but the lawyer for the Duchin estate cancelled the deal when the studio asked for releases and guarantees that the estate could not grant. According to a Jun 1956 HR news item, George Duchin, Eddy’s first cousin, sued writer Katcher for $100,000, claiming that Katcher brought the story ... More Less

The working title of this film was Music by Duchin . Eddy Duchin (10 Apr 1910—9 Feb 1951), began his career in 1928 with Leo Reisman’s orchestra at New York’s Central Park Casino. Duchin’s flashy style and suave demeanor quickly made him the most popular member of the group. Duchin was noted for crossing his hands and playing the lower register with only one finger. Peter, Eddy’s son, was born in 1937. After Peter’s mother, socialite Marjorie Oelrichs, died following his birth, the boy was placed in the custody of Mr. and Mrs. Averell Harriman, his parents’ best friends, who cared for the boy until his father returned from serving in World War II. Peter lived with his father and stepmother Chiquita until his father died from leukemia in 1951. In the film, Eddy’s illness is not identified as leukemia. Peter went on to become a pianist, society band leader and composer in his own right.
       Nat Brandywine, who appears as himself in the film, was Duchin’s fellow pianist at the casino. According to a May 1956 HR news item, Brandywine coached Tyrone Power in his piano playing. According to a Jun 1954 HR news item, M-G-M originally wanted to purchase Leo Katcher's screen treatment of Duchin's life as a starring vehicle for Edmond Purdom, but the lawyer for the Duchin estate cancelled the deal when the studio asked for releases and guarantees that the estate could not grant. According to a Jun 1956 HR news item, George Duchin, Eddy’s first cousin, sued writer Katcher for $100,000, claiming that Katcher brought the story over from M-G-M to Columbia without his knowledge or consent. The outcome of that suit is unknown. Although a Dec 1954 HR news item states that Moss Hart worked on the scenario, the extent of his contribution has not been determined.
       A Jul 1956 HR news item notes that Jill Melford tested for the role of “Chiquita.” Although a HR production chart places Jerry Antes and Geoffrey Lumb in the cast, their appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. A Mar 1955 NYT news item notes that location filming was done in Central Park and the Upper East Side of Manhattan and at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. A Jan 1955 DV news item adds that Moss Hart was initially slated to write the screenplay, but had to bow out of the project because of illness. In addition to the titles listed in the music text, portions of the following additional songs were also included in the film: "Ain't She Sweet," "Will You Love Me in December As You Did in May," "Smiles," "On the Sunny Side of the Street," "Let's Fall in Love," Exactly Like You," "La vie en rose" and "Body and Soul."
       The Eddy Duchin Story was nominated for the following Academy Awards: Best Motion Picture Story, Best Cinematography, Best Musical Scoring and Best Sound Recording. It was also nominated for an American Cinema Editor Critic’s Award. The film marked the American screen debut of Australian actress Victoria Shaw. George Sidney was borrowed from M-G-M to direct the film. According to an Oct 1956 HR news item, the Decca soundtrack of The Eddy Duchin Story was a top-selling album. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
2 Jun 1956.
---
Box Office
9 Jun 1956.
---
Daily Variety
25 Jan 1955.
---
Daily Variety
28 May 56
p. 3.
Film Daily
28 May 56
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Jun 1954.
---
Hollywood Reporter
6 Dec 1954.
---
Hollywood Reporter
5 Aug 1955
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Sep 1955
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
1 May 1956
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
2 May 1956
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
28 May 56
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Jun 1956
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Jul 1956
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Oct 1956
p. 4
Hollywood Reporter
19 Nov 1956
p. 1, 4.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
9 Jun 56
p. 930.
New York Times
14 Mar 1955.
---
New York Times
22 Jun 56
p. 15.
Variety
30 May 56
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
COSTUMES
Gowns
Precious jewels by
MUSIC
Mus supv and cond
Piano recording
Orig mus
Mus coordinator
SOUND
Rec supv
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hair styles
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor col consultant
SOURCES
MUSIC
"Noctune in E Flat" by Frédéric Chopin
"I'll Take Romance," music by Ben Oakland
"Manhattan," music by Richard Rodgers
+
MUSIC
"Noctune in E Flat" by Frédéric Chopin
"I'll Take Romance," music by Ben Oakland
"Manhattan," music by Richard Rodgers
"Brazil," music by Ary Barroso
"Dizzy Fingers," music by Zez Confrey
"Chopsticks," music by Arthur de Lulli
"S-H-I-N-E," music by Ford Dabney
"You're My Everything," music by Harry Warren
"It Must Be True," music by Harry Barris
"Shine on Harvest Moon," words and music by Nora Bayes and Jack North.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
July 1956
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 21 June 1956
Production Date:
8 August--5 October 1955
Copyright Claimant:
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Copyright Date:
27 June 1956
Copyright Number:
LP6625
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Technicolor
Widescreen/ratio
CinemaScope
Duration(in mins):
122-123
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
17752
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In the late 1920s, Eddy Duchin, a recent graduate of the Massachusetts School of Pharmacy, comes to New York City, thinking that band leader Leo Reisman has offered him a job as pianist with his orchestra at the Central Park Casino, an elegant society nightspot. After Leo informs Eddy that there is no job, a disheartened Eddy sits down at the piano and begins to play a sad lament to comfort himself. Eddy’s playing attracts the attention of socialite Marjorie Oelrichs, who persuades Leo to hire him as an intermission pianist. Later, when the preoccupied diners ignore Eddy’s performance, Marjorie coaxes her friends onto the dance floor to enjoy the music. Born to wealth and social stature, Marjorie is amused by Eddy’s enthusiastic pursuit of fame and fortune. Eddy’s zestful piano performances start to earn him acclaim, fueling his aspiration to rise to the upper class. When he is invited to a party given by Marjorie’s aunt and uncle, Sherman and Edith Wadsworth, Eddy is certain that he had made his entrée into society until he learns that the Wadsworths invited him to entertain. Crestfallen, Eddy sits down at the piano to play, and Marjorie sits next to him to comfort him. As Eddy gains prominence as a society pianist, his unpretentious immigrant parents come to New York for a visit. Marjorie, who has been dating Eddy, meets the Duchins for dinner and, after the introductions are made, Marjorie casually asks Eddy to marry her. When a storm strikes on their wedding night, Marjorie confides that she has been tormented by a dream in which the wind takes Eddy ... +


In the late 1920s, Eddy Duchin, a recent graduate of the Massachusetts School of Pharmacy, comes to New York City, thinking that band leader Leo Reisman has offered him a job as pianist with his orchestra at the Central Park Casino, an elegant society nightspot. After Leo informs Eddy that there is no job, a disheartened Eddy sits down at the piano and begins to play a sad lament to comfort himself. Eddy’s playing attracts the attention of socialite Marjorie Oelrichs, who persuades Leo to hire him as an intermission pianist. Later, when the preoccupied diners ignore Eddy’s performance, Marjorie coaxes her friends onto the dance floor to enjoy the music. Born to wealth and social stature, Marjorie is amused by Eddy’s enthusiastic pursuit of fame and fortune. Eddy’s zestful piano performances start to earn him acclaim, fueling his aspiration to rise to the upper class. When he is invited to a party given by Marjorie’s aunt and uncle, Sherman and Edith Wadsworth, Eddy is certain that he had made his entrée into society until he learns that the Wadsworths invited him to entertain. Crestfallen, Eddy sits down at the piano to play, and Marjorie sits next to him to comfort him. As Eddy gains prominence as a society pianist, his unpretentious immigrant parents come to New York for a visit. Marjorie, who has been dating Eddy, meets the Duchins for dinner and, after the introductions are made, Marjorie casually asks Eddy to marry her. When a storm strikes on their wedding night, Marjorie confides that she has been tormented by a dream in which the wind takes Eddy away from her. At Christmas time, Marjorie gives birth to a son, Peter. The ordeal is too much for her, however, and in her final moments of life, Marjorie, unaware that she is dying, speaks glowingly of her love for Eddy. As Eddy, his heart breaking, speaks of their future together, Marjorie dies. Devastated, Eddy blames Peter for Marjorie’s death and, after placing the boy in the care of the Wadsworths, leaves New York. Five years later, Lou Sherwood, Eddy’s friend and personal manager, upbraids him for neglecting his son and accuses him of running away from Marjorie’s death. At Lou’s insistence, Eddy agrees to return to New York to see Peter. Father and son share a strained reunion in Central Park, after which Eddy bids his son goodbye once more. When the United States enters World War II, Eddy enlists as a radio operator aboard a warship. One day, when his ship docks for repairs, Eddy finds an abandoned, broken-down piano and begins to play. The music attracts a little boy, who sits next to Eddy. Eddy teaches the boy how to accompany him in “Chopsticks," and after an exuberant work out, the boy throws his arms around Eddy, arousing Eddy’s longing for his own son. After the war ends, Eddy returns to New York, planning to make a home for Peter, but Peter is reticent around his father. Chiquita, a young Englishwoman who came to live with the Wadsworths after her family was killed during the war, has developed a strong bond with Peter and coaxes him into playing the piano for his father. When Chiquita tries to give Eddy advice about Peter, Eddy bristles and accuses her of meddling, but then relents and asks for help. Father and son slowly reconcile, and at a band rehearsal, Peter proudly plays a duet with Eddy. One night, after Eddy receives a standing ovation at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, his hand freezes in pain. Later, during a raging rainstorm, Peter awakens, screaming and climbs into his father’s bed for comfort. Soon after, Eddy is diagnosed with leukemia, but tells no one but Lou. Chiquita, who has fallen in love with Eddy, becomes frustrated by his lack of affection and announces that she is returning to England. Eddy asks her to stay, but is afraid to express his love because of his illness. Tormented, Eddy runs off, but Chiquita follows and he finally tells her he loves her, but has only one year to live. Unfazed, Chiquita proclaims her love for Eddy and eagerly consents to marry him. After they are wed, Peter excitedly plans their future together, and Eddy, angry at his mortality, is unable to tell his son that he is dying. One day while in the park, Eddy informs Peter that he is going away for a long time. When Peter lashes out at his father for deserting him again, Eddy finally finds the courage to admit that he is dying. Sobbing in his father’s arms, Peter promises to take care of Chiquita. That night at home, father and son play a duet together. When Eddy stops to embrace Chiquita, Peter continues playing until he breaks down in tears. Eddy then resumes playing, but soon his hands freeze in pain and Peter continues on, alone. +

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

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