Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Can there be any question as to the identity of the subject in Satchmo the Great. An expansion of an earlier TV special, this 63-minute documentary was produced by Edward R. Murrow and Fred Friendly, of See It Now fame. Murrow also narrates this lively filmed record of Louis Armstrong's recent musical goodwill tour of Europe and England. There's also a side trip to Africa's Gold Coast, the land of Armstrong's ancestor, where Satchmo is given a hero's welcome. The film concludes with an unforgettable black-tie "jam session" at the New York Philharmonic, wherein Armstrong is copacetically teamed with Leonard Bernstein. Bridging the various sequences are the charcoal sketches of the great Ben Shahn.Satchmo the Great bears no directorial credits, though it is obvious that film editor Adam Avakian had a great deal to do with the pacing and rhythm of the piece.