A class act in every respect, Tony Bennett deserves the same in a documentary tribute, and The Music Never Ends
is just that, an 87-minute compilation of music and words that's as likably modest as the octogenarian singer himself. Born in New York in 1926, the former Anthony Benedetto grew up during the Depression, served in World War II, hit the big time in the 1950s, marched in Selma, Alabama with Martin Luther King, Jr., faded from the scene during the rock-dominated '60s, became an estimable painter, and then, with son Danny as his manager, staged a revival that earned him many young fans and continues to this day. All of that is detailed (by celeb talking heads like Harry Belafonte, Martin Scorsese, Mel Brooks, and Alec Baldwin, as well as various critics and pundits) in the film, but the most entertaining content, of course, is the music. There are concert and television performances spanning more than half a century, from "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" in '53 to Monterey in '05 (his gig at that year's Jazz Festival occupies a second disc, with bits and pieces scattered throughout the main documentary); we see Bennett at the Grand Ol' Opry in '55 (singing Hank Williams' "Cold Cold Heart"), on several TV talk fests (including a wonderful, if too short, clip with the great jazz pianist Bill Evans on The Tonight Show
), and even on Saturday Night Live
, in an amusing bit with Baldwin impersonating Bennett and "Anthony Benedetto" as one of his talk show guests. The presentation is pretty impressive, too: the composers and lyricists of every song are identified, Clint Eastwood co-produced (the principal bonus feature is an informal conversation between the two), Anthony Hopkins narrates, and medleys of several songs (including the inevitable "I Left My Heart in San Francisco") combine Bennett performances from different eras; two especially delightful sequences intersperse Bennett's versions of "They Can't Take That Away From Me" and "I Got Rhythm" with clips from films featuring Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly, respectively. Hot stuff. --Sam Graham
Clint Eastwood presents a documentary on the extraordinary career of one of music's greats: Tony Bennett. Bennett is considered to be one of the greatest living singers in American popular music, and this film reflects all that he has accomplished while living against the background of a changing America. The 90-minute film weaves archival footage with contemporary clips of Bennett performing live throughout his career including him singing his famous hits "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" and "For Once in My Life". Peppered throughout the film are interviews with celebrities reminiscing about their favorite moments with the legendary singer. It is a story of integrity winning over adversity...and of art triumphing over all.