"The Glenn Miller Story" starring James Stewart is the Memorial Day tribute film in the Special Collections Motion Picture Archives Film Series showing Thursday, May 22, in the auditorium of Brigham Young University's Harold B. Lee Library at 7 p.m.
Admission is free and doors open at 6:30 p.m., but early arrival is recommended for assured seating. No food or drink is permitted in the Lee Library's auditorium, and children over age 8 are welcome.
The Iowa-born Glenn Miller began one of the most famous bands in the world. He created a distinctive sound and inaugurated such hits as "Moonlight Serenade," "String of Pearls" and "In the Mood." His "Chattanooga Choo Choo" was the first single recording to sell one million copies.
By the early 1940s, a third of all records played on American jukeboxes were Glenn Miller recordings. In 1943, at the peak of his popularity, Miller disbanded his orchestra, joined the Army Air Corps, and organized a band to entertain the troops.
On Dec. 15, 1944, on his way to Paris to organize another show, Miller's military plane disappeared over the English Channel. Neither the plane nor Miller's body were ever found.
By early 1954, when "The Glenn Miller Story" was released, Miller's music was still very popular. Many studios wanted to make a biographical feature film about Miller, but his widow only wanted James Stewart to play her husband. June Allyson co-stars with Stewart, playing his wife for the second of a career total of three times.
"The Glenn Miller Story" turned out to be the third biggest moneymaker of the year and the most successful James Stewart film up to that time. Seven original band members participated in the recordings for the film's soundtrack that includes "Pennsylvania 6-5000" and "Tuxedo Junction." Also in the film are jazz greats Louis Armstrong and Gene Krupa playing the famous "Basin Street Blues."
The film print being shown is Mr. Stewart's personal copy.
"This print is an extremely rare dye-transfer Technicolor copy that Stewart donated along with his papers to BYU's Harold B. Lee Library in the early 1980s," said James D'Arc, curator of the library's Motion Picture Archives, who worked with Stewart to bring his collection to BYU. "It is in near-new condition even though it is almost 50 years old. This is a choice opportunity to see this film on the big screen as it was meant to be viewed."
The Special Collections Motion Picture Archives Film Series is cosponsored by the L. Tom Perry Special Collections, the Friends of the Harold B. Lee Library and Dennis and Linda Gibson.
The Film Series' next film is the 1940 biographical drama "Brigham Young" starring Tyrone Power and Linda Darnell, with Dean Jagger as Brigham Young. This will be a special showing as it will also mark the national release of the Fox Home Video special edition DVD that features supplementary material from L. Tom Perry Special Collections and a feature-length audio commentary by the film curator, James D'Arc.
For further information, call L. Tom Perry Special Collections at (801) 422-6371, or access their website at http://sc.lib.byu.edu/ and click on "current events."