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Poster for Artie Shaw: Time Is All You’ve Got

Artie Shaw: Time Is All You’ve Got

Opens on April 15

Director: Brigitte Berman Run Time: 114 min. Release Year: 1985

“Beware of what you wish for… you may be so unfortunate as to get it.” – Artie Shaw. Anchored by an incisive interview with its 72-year-old subject, looking back on a five-decade career, along with interviews with Shaw’s contemporaries and a wealth of photos and archival film footage. Berman first interviewed Shaw for her acclaimed 1981 documentary BIX: “AIN’T NONE OF THEM PLAY LIKE HIM YET,” a portrait of tragic jazz legend Bix Beiderbecke (revived at Film Forum in 2021).

Born Arthur Arshawsky on the Lower East Side, Artie Shaw (1910–2004) became one of the most popular stars of the 1930s and 40s Swing era — notably as rival to “King of Swing” Benny Goodman. In an era of separate white and Black bands, Shaw broke the color barrier by hiring legendary African American musicians like Billie Holiday, Hot Lips Page and Roy Eldridge for his bands. 

Shaw’s restlessness and intellectual curiosity (he’d author four books of fiction and non-fiction) led him to shun celebrity and retire from show business in the late 1940s, with only occasional comebacks after. Known also as a ladies’ man, Shaw’s eight wives included actresses Ava Gardner, Lana Turner, Doris Dowling, Evelyn Keyes, and novelist Kathleen Winsor, author of the notoriously racy bestseller Forever Amber.

In addition to Shaw, who tells his own story, Berman’s interviews include vocalist Mel Tormé, drummer Buddy Rich and actress/ex-wife Evelyn Keyes (she played Scarlett O’Hara’s younger sister in GONE WITH THE WIND), whose other ex-husbands included director John Huston.

Best Documentary, Features (Academy Awards, 1986)

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