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The Girls in the Band

The Girls in the Band (2013)



Average Rating: 7.8/10
Critic Reviews: 6
Fresh: 6 | Rotten: 0

No consensus yet.



liked it
Average Rating: 4.4/5
User Ratings: 129

My Rating

Movie Info

They wiggled, they jiggled, they wore low cut gowns and short shorts, they kowtowed to the club owners and smiled at the customers...and they did it all, just to play the music they loved. THE GIRLS IN THE BAND tells the poignant, untold stories of female jazz and big band instrumentalists and their fascinating, groundbreaking journeys from the late 30′s to the present day. These incredibly talented women endured sexism, racism and diminished opportunities for decades, yet continued to

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All Critics (11) | Top Critics (7) | Fresh (10) | Rotten (0)

The documentary is rescued only by a final sequence in which Chaikin restages the famous 1958 group photo A Great Day in Harlem, this time with mostly women.

February 28, 2014 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
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The major strength of "The Girls in the Band" is its abundant, crisp footage of women playing at the highest level, from pianist Lil Armstrong (Louis' wife) to contemporary reed player Anat Cohen.

February 13, 2014 Full Review Source: Seattle Times
Seattle Times
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The movie meanders a bit in the beginning, though the information comes across. Then it gets into a chronological groove after about 30 minutes and finds its proper form.

January 16, 2014 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
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"The Girls in the Band" is a story of perseverance and passion - and is recommended viewing for basically every music fan.

January 9, 2014 Full Review Source: San Jose Mercury News
San Jose Mercury News
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Director Judy Chaikin, who co-wrote the film with its deft editor, Edward Osei-Gyimah, infuses this fine portrait with grace, nostalgia and a well-calibrated dose of social commentary.

June 6, 2013 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
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"The Girls in the Band" is everything a worthwhile documentary should be, and then some: engaging, informative, thorough and brimming with delightful characters.

May 9, 2013 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
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Undeniably achieves its primary purpose of making viewers walk out of the theater knowing a lot more about the subject than when they entered.

February 19, 2014 Full Review Source: RedEye

Judy Chaikin's loving documentary about vaudeville, big bands, and jazz, is a standout...

November 16, 2013 Full Review Source: Leonard Maltin's Picks
Leonard Maltin's Picks

Among those rare, delightful music documentaries, in the vein of Standing in the Shadows of Motown, that provokes you emotionally and intellectually while remaining entertaining throughout.

May 10, 2013 Full Review Source: NYC Movie Guru
NYC Movie Guru

A euphoric, triumphant documentary, in which these unsung female jazz musicians get the last word too. As when one recalls when asked by a reporter, 'what's it like to be a female composer' she replies, 'what's it like to be a male journalist.'

May 7, 2013 Full Review Source: NewsBlaze

Audience Reviews for The Girls in the Band

I saw this at the Cleveland International Film Fest 2012 and had to buy the DVD from Judy Chaikin who was there to answer questions after the screening. Informative and fun doc filled with lots of big band/jazz music. Chaikin begins the movie with a famous group portrait of all the big name jazz musicians living in the '50s. Only three women are included and two are identified. This music doc uncovers the fact that there were many more women who were jazz musicians, but so many have been forgotten. It was okay for women to be vocalists or pianists, but women faced many obstacles if they wanted a career playing brass, sax, drums, or other instruments. This doc looks at sexism and racism. It examines nearly a whole century in the history of female jazz musicians with graphics that suggest an old photo album. In the 20s through the 40s The International Sweethearts of Rhythm are given special focus. In the post-WWII years, things reverted to rampant sexism. A few women who achieved some success as jazz soloists and arrangers are highlighted. Then following the feminist movement, beginning in the mid-70s, the Kansas City Women's Jazz Festival and a new generation of women jazz musicians are celebrated. In the end, the photo from Harlem '58 is recreated in front of the same brownstone with a few survivors and dozens of girls from jazz bands. This movie has whetted my interest in jazz!
June 6, 2013

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