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Jeff grows up near Basin Street in New Orleans, playing his clarinet with the dock workers. He puts together a band, the Basin Street Hot-Shots, which includes a cornet player, Memphis. They struggle to get their jazz music accepted by the cafe society of the city. Betty Lou joins their band as a singer and gets Louie to show her how to do scat singing. Memphis and Jeff both fall in love with Betty Lou. Written by
Lisa Grable <email@example.com>
Loosely based on the story of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, the New Orleans band that brought jazz and blues to national prominence in 1915-1917. Bing Crosby's character, Jeff Lambert, is based on clarinetist Alcide "Yellow" Nunez, the founder of the band. The cornetist, Memphis (Brian Donlevy), is based on the band's arrogant cornetist, Nick La Rocca. Trombonist Jack Teagarden, who appears in the film, was a member of the band for a time in the 1920's. See more »
As with many musicals of the era, the little girl of the film sparks a sort of magic, something Carolyn Lee was quite good at. She first appears as six-year-old "Aunt Phoebe" sliding down a spiral banister and landing on Bing Crosby's lap, after which she smashes his lucky hat. Bing, nice guy that he is, takes her on his lap and smiles tremendously. So Phoebe becomes a sort of mascot/hanger-on of the early New Orleans blues band that struggles to survive against strong prejudices against "darkie" music. Every time she opens her little mouth to say a few lines I found myself giggling at her. Some of her pranks are quite memorable. I especially liked the scene where she paints herself in white-face and puts a girdle on for a dress. Her little broom dance with Rochester is also adorable. Carolyn was a very funny little girl. Towards the end of the movie Bing picks her up and lullabies her to sleep with the #1 hit song of 1941, "Melancholy Baby". I never imagined this song was written to sing to six-year-old Carolyn Lee. The Melancholy Baby scene alone is worth the price of admission.
The movie is well filmed, the jazz is great, the acting good and the story interesting. Bing is at his best, Mary Martin is gorgeous and Brian Donlevy with his rakish mustache is quite the rogue. One thing I liked about the film was the close, friendly relationships between the African-American and White jazz musicians. Seems like the jazz folks were ahead of their time and we can only wish that the rest of the country will eventually catch up.
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