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A Song is Born (19-Oct-1948)

Director: Howard Hawks

From novel: From A to Z by Billy Wilder and Thomas Monroe (unpublished story)

Musical Direction by: Emil Newman; Hugo Friedhofer

Producer: Samuel Goldwyn

Keywords: Musical Comedy

NameOccupationBirthDeathKnown for
Louis Armstrong
Jazz Musician
4-Aug-1901 6-Jul-1971 Jazz trumpeter
Sidney Blackmer
13-Jul-1895 5-Oct-1973 Played Theodore Roosevelt 12 times
Felix Bressart
2-Mar-1892 17-Mar-1949 To Be or Not to Be
J. Edward Bromberg
25-Dec-1903 6-Dec-1951 The Mark of Zorro
Steve Cochran
25-May-1917 15-Jun-1965 The Damned Don't Cry
Esther Dale
10-Nov-1885 23-Jul-1961 Curly Top
Tommy Dorsey
19-Nov-1905 26-Nov-1956 Popular bandleader
Benny Goodman
Jazz Musician
30-May-1909 13-Jun-1986 Bespectacled jazz clarinetist
Lionel Hampton
Jazz Musician
20-Apr-1908 31-Aug-2002 Jazz vibrophonist and bandleader
Hugh Herbert
10-Aug-1884 12-Mar-1952 Hellzapoppin
Danny Kaye
18-Jan-1913 3-Mar-1987 The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Virginia Mayo
30-Nov-1920 17-Jan-2005 South Sea Woman


Danny Kaye   ...   Prof. Hobart Frisbee
Virginia Mayo   ...   Honey Swanson
Benny Goodman   ...   Prof. Magenbruch
Tommy Dorsey   ...   Himself
Louis Armstrong   ...   Himself
Lionel Hampton   ...   Himself
Charlie Barnet   ...   Himself
Mel Powell   ...   Himself
Buck and Bubbles   ...   Themselves
The Page Cavanaugh Trio   ...   Themselves
The Golden Gate Quartet   ...   Themselves
Russo and the Samba Kings   ...   Themselves
Hugh Herbert   ...   Prof. Twingle
Steve Cochran   ...   Tony Crow
J. Edward Bromberg   ...   Dr. Elfini
Felix Bressart   ...   Prof. Gerkikoff
Ludwig Stossel   ...   Prof. Traumer
O. Z. Whitehead   ...   Prof. Oddly
Esther Dale   ...   Miss Bragg
Mary Field   ...   Miss Totten
Howland Chamberlin   ...   Mr. Setter
Paul Langton   ...   Joe
Sidney Blackmer   ...   Adams
Ben Welden   ...   Monte
Ben Chasen   ...   Ben
Peter Virgo   ...   Louis
Harry Babasin   ...   Bass
Louie Bellson   ...   Drums
Alton Hendrickson   ...   Guitar


Review by Dan R. VanLandingham (posted on 8-Aug-2007)

"A Song is Born" was just another film that portrayed the music of jazz in a ridiculous setting,this time at a music conservatory.This movie starred Danny Kaye as a guy on the lam from gangsters(Kaye fell in love with a gun moll portrayed by Virgina Mayo)hence the music conservatory setting.Also featured was Swing Era great Benny Goodman portraying one "Professor Magenbruch,two long since forgotten African-American actors who always stopped by with a question regarding the music of jazz. The movie is centered around the lives of these music scholars and the more one gets into this film,the more ridiculous this film becomes.This was one of the few films from the '40s that was shot in colour,the bulk of movies were still shot in black and white.This film is one that barely makes the two stars I gave it.The only scene that relieves the viewer of its ridiculous script is the jam session which showcased the talents of several Big Band Era greats:trombonist Tommy Dorsey who just finished filming the 1947 film "The Fabulous Dorseys" where he and his famous bandleader brother Jimmy had spoken parts along with 1920s bandleader-starmaker Paul Whiteman.Dorsey was seen in several other movies such as his 1941 film "Las Vegas Nights" which featured his band.Also seen to good advantage were trumpeter Louis Armstrong seen in a playing role only along with Lionel Hampton who was currently leading his own big band;Goodman had made him a star after his four year stint as vibist in Goodman's Quartet and Sextet(which featured the late,great Charlie Christian who died of tuberculosis at the age of 24 in early 1942).Hampton had actually for Armstrong around 1930.Satchmo himself had just come off making a movie called "New Orleans" which also featured the great Billie Holiday as a maid.Satchmo was a butler in the manner of his former boss Joe "King" Oliver who had been a butler prior his success as a cornetist in Chicago in the early to mid '20s.Charlie Barnet had been a very successful bandleader since 1939 onward but had acted in movies such as "Love and Hisses".Also featured was Goodman's guitarist at that time,Al Hendrickson.I had known Al quite well having known him for 27 years.Al and his wife Patti moved to my hometown of North Bend,Oregon.Patti had been an actress at Warner Brothers in the mid to late '40s.It was Al who,about a year before his death(on 19 July 2007),told me of how Satchmo would constantly tell Lionel Hampton to stop clowing around.Hamp had worked for Satchmo in the early '30s.Hamp wouold be a major Big Band Era star as part of Goodman's Quartet and Sextette.Hamp went out on his own in 1940 with his own hard driving,hard swinging band. The closing scenes show the gangsters holding Professor Magenbruch,the two African-American jazz fans,Virginia Mayo,the other music scholars-Danny Kaye included-held hostage.Their deliverence comes in the form of a jam session(played by the aforementioned musicians.They jam on Hamp's theme song "Flying Home".At the "right moment",a large,Chinese Gong bounces around until it falls off and knocks out the gangster who is Mayo's "boyfriend".One of those musicians who is seen to good advantage was my late friend Al Hendrickson who was working in Goodman's band at the time of this filming.Ai is seen to good advantage playing his guitar in the "jam session" segment.All in all,it's just another of the many outlandish,overblown films of its' time.

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