18 July 2006 | dalogue
Great music, but many faults
As an avid fan of Bix Beiderbecke, I was anxious to see this film, which I purchased on VHS through half.com years ago. I can't say it was a waste of money, as the film does have its moments. But if you are looking for a true depiction of Bix's life, sadly there is no such thing available (unless you count Brigitte Berman's excellent documentary BIX, available on Playboy video).
The filmmakers have visually made a concerted effort to make the film appear in the correct period. Their use of Davenport period landmarks deserves to be commended (as a Beiderbecke fan I was thrilled to see the interior of the actual Beiderbeck home). However, they have taken several liberties in other areas. Namely, the overuse of foul language (sure it existed then, but I don't think it was quite as prevalent) and a suggestive scene that does not seem plausible for that era.
Additionally, there are numerous blatant, historical inaccuracies in the film, but the filmmakers seem to have covered themselves by subtitling the film "An Interpretation of a Legend".
The acting in this film is not the best, but it could be much worse. The lead player, while not a horrible actor, seems to lack the depth of character to make Bix come alive. Personally, I can't get beyond Bryant Weeks' "pretty boy" image. The real Bix was ruggedly handsome but had a little edge.
What stands out in this film is the excellent music, faithfully recreated by diligent musicians like Tom Pletcher.
This film could have been so much better with a few changes. A proper film about the legendary Bix Beiderbecke is long overdue. Until then, this film serves as a pale representation. Watch it with the understanding that its 90% fiction and do yourself a favor and watch the Berman documentary instead.