Bob Wills

Fiddlin' Man: The Life and Times of Bob Wills

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Bob Wills, a good country-style violinist who was a fine singer and a colorful personality, was one of the major pioneers of Western swing. His Texas Playboys combined country music with strong doses of 1930s jazz and blues to create a diverse and very accessible style of music; Wills' band by the late '30s even included some horn players along with the steel guitar and violins. This documentary by Gary Rhodes expertly uses valuable early clips, a coherent narration that covers Wills' productive life, many photos, and short comments from sidemen, friends, and associates. The best of the music includes some selections taken from Wills' 1942 Hollywood B-movies and television appearances from 1951 and 1962; "Sittin' on Top of the World," "Lone Star Rag," and "Take Me Back to Tulsa" are most memorable. One does wish that there were more performances, along with additional details about Wills' personal life (his four wives are barely mentioned), but the film does give one a fine overview of Bob Wills' life and music.