The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band

The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band
The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band
Directed by Michael O'Herlihy
Produced by Bill Anderson
Screenplay by Lowell S. Hawley
Based on The Family Band: from the Missouri to the Black Hills, 1881-1900 by
Laura Bower Van Nuys
Starring Walter Brennan
Buddy Ebsen
Lesley Ann Warren
John Davidson
Music by Songs:
Richard M. Sherman
Robert B. Sherman
Jack Elliott
Cinematography Frank V. Phillips
Editing by Cotton Warburton
Studio Walt Disney Productions
Distributed by Buena Vista Distribution
Release date(s) March 21, 1968 (1968-03-21) (Radio City Music Hall)
Running time 110 min.
Country U.S.A.
Language English

The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band is a 1968 musical film based on a biography by Laura Bower Van Nuys, directed by Michael O'Herlihy, with original music and lyrics by the Sherman Brothers. Set against the backdrop of the 1888 presidential election, the film portrays the musically talented Bower family: American pioneers who settle in the Dakota Territory.


Production history

Originally planned as a two-part television show titled The Family Band, the project was based on a book by Laura Bower Van Nuys. The memoir by Van Nuys, the youngest of the Bower children, described her family's brass band, their journey out of Missouri, and their frontier life in the Black Hills.

Walt Disney had asked the Sherman Brothers for their help on the project, feeling the story was too flat. The Shermans wrote the song "The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band", which was ultimately used as the title of the motion picture. After hearing the song, Disney decided to add more songs to the film and turn it into a musical. In all, the Sherman Brothers wrote eleven songs for the film, though Robert reportedly did so under protest, believing the subject matter too mundane to be made into a feature-length musical film.

The film reunited Lesley Ann Warren and John Davidson as the romantic leads in a Disney musical, having previously been paired in The Happiest Millionaire.


The Bower Family Band petitions the Democratic National Committee to sing a rally song for President Grover Cleveland at the party's 1888 convention. On the urging of Joe Carder, a journalist and suitor to eldest Bower daughter Alice, the family decides instead to move to the Dakota Territory. There, Grandpa Bower, a staunch Democrat, causes trouble with his pro-Cleveland sentiments. The Dakota residents are overwhelmingly Republican, and hope to get the territory admitted as two states (North and South Dakota) rather than one (so as to send four Republican senators to Washington rather than two). Grandpa's actions result in family strife, including nearly costing Alice her position as the town's new school teacher. The budding romance between Joe and Alice also suffers. In the end more ballots are cast for Cleveland, but Republican nominee Benjamin Harrison nonetheless wins the presidency—the first time in the nation's history that the Electoral College reverses the popular vote. Before he leaves office Cleveland grants statehood to the two Dakotas, along with two Democrat-voting territories, evening the gains for both parties. The Dakotans, particularly the feuding young couple, resolve to live together in peace.


"The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band" The film opens with Grandpa conducting all ten members of the Bower family, each playing a different musical instrument. Practicing in their barn, the family dances among the animals and hay, boasting of their unique talents and versatility.

"The Happiest Girl Alive" Alice expresses her intense emotions over receiving her latest letter from suitor Joe Carder.

"Let's Put It Over with Grover" The Bowers perform this Grover Cleveland campaign song to a representative from the Democratic National Committee.[1]

"Ten Feet off the Ground" Ecstatic at the prospect of performing at the National Convention, the family band engages in an impromptu celebration. They sing about the feeling which only music can bestow, figuratively lifting them "Ten Feet off the Ground". (This was one of two songs from the film covered by Louis Armstrong later in 1968.)

"Dakota" Joe Carder entices local Missouri families, singing about the marvels of the Dakota Territory. ("Dakota" is similar in style to the title song of the Oklahoma! and was once considered as a candidate for "state song" for South Dakota.)

"'Bout Time" Joe Carder expresses his devotion to Alice, telling her it's "'Bout Time" they were engaged, she responds in kind, and the two sing this duet. (This song was covered by Louis Armstrong and was later featured in the 2005 film, Bewitched.)

"Drummin' Drummin' Drummin'" Grandpa Bower recounts the tale of a young drummer boy during the Civil War, inspiring all the children in the school house that they too can stand their ground and make a difference.

"West o' the Wide Missouri" On election night, locals dance and celebrate their part in American expansionism West o' the Wide Missouri.

"Oh, Benjamin Harrison" The Republicans in town have their own campaign song; they sing their praise for Benjamin Harrison, who is "far beyond comparison."


Literary sources

  • Van Nuys, Laura Bower (1961). The Family Band : from the Missouri to the Black Hills, 1881-1900. Pioneer Heritage Series, vol. 5. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.
  • Sherman, Robert B. (1998). Walt's Time: from before to beyond. Santa Clarita: Camphor Tree Publishers, pgs. 148-149.

External links


  1. ^ The songwriters' father, Al Sherman (who was also a songwriter) wrote two songs which were used as campaign songs for two different Presidential candidates in the mid-twentieth century. In the 1948 election, Republican candidate, Thomas Dewey usurped the Al Sherman/Charles Tobias/Howard Johnson collaboration, "(What Do We Do On A) Dew-Dew-Dewey Day" for his campaign. Four years later Sherman wrote a song specifically for Dwight D. Eisenhower's campaign called "I Like Ike."

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