Wayman, as far as the Hollywood biopics of the era go, RHAPSODY IN BLUE isn’t that bad. I mean, it has a higher ratio of facts to fiction than NIGHT AND DAY or WORDS AND MUSIC. Gershwin’s musical training is compressed into one fictional teacher, the romances are bogus, and they showed George as quiet and reserved—ha! Oscar Levant wanted a scene with him arguing with George as they often did. The producers nixed it for a more hagiographic approach.
The main reason to watch any of these isn’t for facts, as they’re not documentaries, but for the musical numbers. RIB has some good ones. There are the greats you mention, plus the jazz “Blue Monday” opera, Anne Brown (the original Bess) singing “Summertime” (yes, I know it’s not her song) on an exact recreation of the PORGY AND BESS set, and Tom Patricola singing “Somebody Loves Me” that he introduced in the GEORGE WHITE SCANDALS OF 1924. plus Oscar playing all the piano parts for “Gershwin.”
So there’s some fun, even historic, material. And it plays rather like a Gershwin tribute.
Laura, who notes that if Hollywood wants to do a different kind of Gershwin pic, she might have a suggestion….