Sweet and Low-Down (1944): Musical Film Starring Benny Goodman and Linda Darnell

Vet Warner director Archie Mayo helmed Sweet and Low-Down, a musical film starring Benny Goodman and Linda Darnell.

The film was a fictionalized version of life with Goodman, his band, and their manager while entertaining at military camps.

The storyline is slim and formulaic: A young trombonist lets his newfound success go to his head when he is invited to join the Benny Goodman Orchestra.

Oscar Context:

The song “I’m Making Believe” (lyrics by Mack Gordon; music by James V. Monaco) was nominated for an Oscar Award.

Groomed to be a star, but never becoming one, Lynn Bari was typecast by Fox as a big band singer, playing similar roles in Sun Valley Serenade (1941) and in Archie Mayo’s Orchestra Wives (1942). Her voice had been dubbed in those films by Pat Friday, and in this film, she was dubbed by Lorraine Elliot.

Benny Goodman as Himself
Linda Darnell as Trudy Wilson
Jack Oakie as Popsy
Lynn Bari as Pat Stirling
James Cardwell as Johnny Birch
Allyn Joslyn as Lester Barnes
John Campbell as Dixie Zang
Roy Benson as Skeets McCormick
Dickie Moore as Military Cadet General ‘Mogie’ Carmichael

Directed by Archie Mayo
Produced by William LeBaron
Written by Richard English, Edward Haldeman
Music by Cyril J. Mockridge

Cinematography: Lucien Ballard

Edited by Dorothy Spencer

Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date September 21, 1944
Running time: 76 minutes



TCM showed the movie June 12, 2020 as part of series, “Jazz in Film.”