All the recent commentary on music and marching has put me in mind of one of my favorite movies, Drum Line
. Which was actually on television recently. And I watched it. For the sixth time. This year.
My short list of all-time favorite movies is notable in that it's predominantly composed of movies no one else has ever seen, or even heard of. How many of you have seen Crazy from the Heart
with Christine Lahti, before anyone knew she was Christine Lahti? I bet the most devoted Richard Dreyfuss fan has never seen Once Around
. What about the great Big Night
? Or the less prestigious Duets
? The only commonality among them is that I enjoy watching them repeatedly, even though I'm not one of those Sesame Street kids, taught early on to value the soothing nature of repetition.
The linked review calls Drumline a sports movie that substitutes a band competition for the usual athletic competition. Like any worthwhile sports movie, it comes loaded with inspirational slogans:
- "All musicians and no band" or, there's no i in team
- “One Band. One Sound” all for one and one for all
- "You have to care about the sound of the line more than the sound of your own drum" no translation required
Actually, I think playing with a band, any band, is more demanding of unity than any sports team. After all, sports teams still maintain each player's individual stats. But how can you keep stats on a band member? If just one player fails, the entire performance fails.
Drumline's story is set at a no-name college in the South and is the tale of a talented young upstart challenging the hard-working drum section leader. To add to the drama our young hero has a fatal flaw. He Can’t Read Music. The conflict between the two band members is echoed by a rivalry between the band directors from two colleges all of which climaxes at the annual band competition, guaranteeing plenty of drumming. Predictably, the two rival bands are tied for first place and the judges decide the only way the tie can be broken is by a drumline face-off. Yaaay! And do they face off! Every single bit of hot dog drumming razzle dazzle you might imagine goes into their performances.
I love this movie. Call it smarmy, call it schmaltzy. Just be sure you call me next time it's on.