Director: Don McGlynn
The name may be unfamiliar but the tunes of Harolc Arlen have stayed with generations. Over the Rainbow, Stormy Weather, Accentuate the Positive, That Old Black Magic, Let's Fall in Love, Come Rain or Shine, Any Place I Hang My Hat is Home, Get Happy and literally dozens more timeless classics flowed from Arlen's pen. Don McGlynn's outstanding biographical portrait rightfully places him alongside the likes of Jerome Kern, George Gershwin, Cole Porter and Irving Berlin—Arlen is amongst the great American composers.
In spite of never having achieved the personal fame of many of his peers. Arlen produced an incredible repertoire for stage, screen and studio. The film traces his roots in vaudeville before committing himself to composing full-time. In the 1930s, Hollywood called, and Arlen began an extended tenure there. Even given his prodigious output, his music was always more recognisable than his name, a fact explained in Ihe film by Arlen's retiring nature and his lack of interest in the limelight.
The magic that director McGlynn brought to Dexter Gordon: More Than You Know (MIFF 1997) and Charles Mingus: Triumph of the Underdog (MIFF 1998), is once again in evidence in Somewhere Over the Rainbow. He has unearthed a treasury of intimate home movie footage, newsreels, interviews and stellar performances which give marvellous insights into Arlen's life. Barbara Streisand, Frank Sinatra, Cab Calloway, Lena Home, Bing Crosby, Judy Garland, Mel Torme and Tony Bennett all deliver an entire Arlen composition.
Filmmaking which examines a fascinating talent, Don McGlynn has combined a first-rate biography with a probing examination of a fascinating personality.