9 March 2000 | cneubauer
Well done with a couple of oddities
The documentary traces Arlen's life & career from his early days playing the piano & singing on the S.S. Canadiana. There are film clips of Arlen as a young man, playing with the Buffalodians, and an interview in the 1960s in which he explains how he came to write some of his more famous works, as well as performances by Arlen and his home movies.
The documentary has a couple of odd inaccuracies. Arlen's sister-in-law (his brother's second wife) contends that Arlen's music was influenced by growing up in a black neighborhood in Buffalo. The fact is that the William Street neighborhood is black now, but it was, according to the recently deceased Marvin Lieberman, who still remembered the Arluck [pronounced AIR-lick] boys, a Jewish ghetto when Arlen lived there (it is noteworthy that two other great songwriters, Jack Yellen & Ray Henderson, grew up a few blocks from Arlen). Additionally, there are comments by a man named Samuel Arlen who is credited as Arlen's son, although Edward Jablonski's biography makes a particular point of noting that Arlen was childless. Samuel Arlen, according to Jablonski, is Arlen's nephew.
Nevertheless, this is a fundamentally excellent documentary if you like Arlen's music.