Instead of making a swing musical like "La La Land" about a couple of careerists who go to Hollywood to get rich and famous, as if that is highest ambition possible for a human being, how about making a musical about when swing music helped defeat actual Fascism and a real American hero among many American heroes? Yes, writing about Vera Lynn yesterday reminded me of Glenn Miller, one of the enormously talented musicians who helped create the swing jazz movement in the USA. As a matter of fact, there were so many great musicians of that era whose stories could be told with their fantastic music that it’s almost a crime that no movie has been made about any of them. To name a few who could be included in such movies there are Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Louis Armstrong, The Dorsey Brothers, and Jelly Roll Morton.
But start with remaking "The Glenn Miller Story", an enormously successful movie in 1954. What a movie that would be! It’s got everything that a David O. Selznick would love, and there was a man who knew how to get the crowds to turn out for a great movie. Remember “Gone With The Wind”? And not only does the Glenn Miller story include great music, jazz and swing as it bursts onto the American scene and then internationally, but then Glenn Miller, even though too old to be drafted, joins the Army to bring music to the troops and lift morale! He died a hero flying to France. Here we have a real-life unhappy ending, not like La La Land’s hero and heroine’s self-induced ‘life is a crap sandwich 'ending, where love doesn’t matter.
Yes, a movie about the Masters of Swing and Jazz might be worth making, and might even draw a crowd. Oh, the crowd wouldn’t be anything like the tens of thousands who show up for that guy who gives you Hollywood types headaches and makes you fat. No, you’ll never draw a crowd like he does, because he’s a man who’s writing history at the head of a great movement to reclaim America. But, don’t be shy, jump on board the movement. Glenn Miller was an American swing band leader and hero. And throw in some scenes with the other great American musicians mentioned above. Or make biopics about them, too. Seriously, Hollywood, you can’t miss with material like that.
"La La Land" showed how much people enjoy musicals with singing and dancing; now why don’t you try to make one that has some genuine heart and showcases some of the great American contributions to music?
Memo: to make money, you have to delight the audience. As Glenn Miller observed when he gave up his lucrative career to serve his country and the cause of freedom: “America means freedom and there's no expression of freedom quite so sincere as music.”