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JazzTimes 10: Jazz on Film

Ten great examples of what happens when jazz goes to the movies—and the movies go to jazz

5. The Gene Krupa Story (1959)
Ah, the potent reminder of when jazz musicians were megastars. Krupa fit the larger-than-life definition of mid-century celebrity because that descriptor appeared to correspond to the dimensions of his drum sound. He is played by Sal Mineo, and this becomes one of those push-and-pull films. Should Krupa join the seminary? But wait—he loves his drums too much for a life of the cloth. Consider it a more benign version of the Robert Johnson crossroads mythos. Krupa isn’t discussed a lot as a technician because of the perceived flamboyance—and extreme volume—of his sound. Any opportunity is a good one to revisit his impeccable technique, which was even longer on feeling than chops.




Originally Published

Colin Fleming

Colin Fleming writes fiction and nonfiction on myriad topics—art, film, music, sports, literature, current events—for a wide range of publications, and talks regularly on radio and podcasts. His most recent books are an entry in the 33 1/3 series on Sam Cooke’s Live at the Harlem Square Club, 1963, a volume about the 1951 film Scrooge as the ultimate work of cinematic terror, and the story collection, If You [ ]: Fabula, Fantasy, F**kery, Hope. Find him on the web at (where he maintains the unique online journal, the Many Moments More blog) and on Twitter @colinfleminglit. He lives in Boston and has contributed to JazzTimes since 2006.