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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Report Card---"Trying To Get Good".

"Trying To Get Good" is a documentary that has been around for a couple of years.

It is NOT one of the ones I received recently from the West Coast.
It's one that I received from Amazon, after a long fruitless search for it.
I actually paid retail for it.
That's how much I wanted it.

The subject of "Trying To Get Good" is perhaps our greatest living jazz trumpet player, Jack Sheldon.

Some of you may be most familiar with Jack Sheldon, if not by name, as the voice of the bill languishing on Capitol Hill on Schoolhouse Rock----
"I'm just a bill, yes I'm only a bill, and I'm sitting here on Capitol Hill......"
He also traded much banter with Merv Griffin on the latter's show, and was probably the best thing on it.

But he has been so much more than that.
I referred to him as perhaps our greatest living jazz trumpeters.
This, of course, takes Louis Armstrong out of the equation.
He was the greatest jazz trumpet player of all time.
And Jack Sheldon will be the first to admit it.

More about Louis Armstrong next time out.

On to the scoring:

Is it interesting?

Sheldon has lived a fascinating and surprisingly torture filled life.
Many personal tragedies, drug and alcohol addictions, and he has come out the other end surviving it all in remarkably good spirits.
And there is much of him in performance, and it is joyous.

Compelling, even?

Very much so. His main compulsion is to constantly practice and get better with the trumpet. He lives for his instrument, many say to the complete and utter disregard of the rest of his personal life.

Is it controversial?

I learned many things about him that I didn't know beforehand.

Do you think about it after you've seen it?

Yes. to the point where I want to watch this film over and over.

Is it funny?

It is hilariously funny because HE is hilariously funny, particularly in performance

Is it a story worth telling?

To everyone.

Is it good storytelling?

Consistently revealing, all along the way.

Is it well written?

On a documentary like this, you don't really notice the writing.
The fact that it was unobtrusive is obviously a plus.

Is it well cast? Well played?, Well shot?

Certainly well shot, Casting takes the form of interviews.
Clint Eastwood puts in his eight cents.
Merv Griffin was interviewed extensively here shortly before his death, and had many interesting things to say.

Is it too long? Too short?

Could have gone on at least another 45 minutes.

Is it believable? Do you care about the characters?

It's life. If you didn't care about the characters, you have no movie.
Sheldon is so lovable that he forces you to care about him.

Is it predictable? Does it surprise you?

Never predictable, full of surprises.
Unless you know that much about his life going in.

Is it worth the 22 dollars and fifty cents (the retail price)?

Every hard-earned penny.

Is it an impressive film?

Nothing but.

Overall grade: A+.

Treat yourself to this, or wait for some better deal than what I found.

My book, "Show Runner" and it's sequel,"Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store, You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne & Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
You might want to check them out.
You don't need a Kindle machine to download them.
Just get the free app from Kindle, and they can be downloaded to an IPhone, IPad, or Blackberry.
The paperback, "Mark Rothman's Essays" is still available for people without Kindle.
I have many readings and signings remaining, and the thing about Kindle is you can't sign one.
The website "On Screen & Beyond" has two hours of an interview I did on it's podcast in their archives.
Just Google On Screen & Beyond to find them if you're interested.



  1. Thanks for alerting me to this!

    When I was a kid, Mr. Sheldon was probably the only good thing about a short-lived sitcom called "The Cara Williams Show," playing a (what else) jazz musician named Fletcher Kincaid.

    Years and years later, seeing him on other shows, my family would always refer to him as "Fletcher."

    He also did another short-lived show, "Run Buddy Run," which probably deserved to be short-lived, but certainly not because of Mr. Sheldon.

    I'll certainly be on the lookout for the DVD!

  2. Jack Sheldon was also on Sally Field's short-lived sitcom The Girl With Something Extra.

  3. There's a chance you're qualified for a free $1,000 Amazon Gift Card.

  4. You might be eligible for a complimentary Apple iPhone 7.



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About Me

Hi. I am, according to my Wikipedia entry,(which I did not create) a noted television writer, playwright, screenwriter, and occasional actor. You can Google me or go to the IMDB to get my credits, and you can come here to get my opinions on things, which I'll try to express eloquently. Hopefully I'll succeed. You can also e-mail me at Perhaps my biggest claim to fame is being responsible, for about six months in 1975, while Head Writer for the "Happy Days" TV series, for Americans saying to each other "Sit on it."