Birth of the Blues (1941)

Approved  |   |  Music  |  7 November 1941 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 251 users  
Reviews: 9 user | 2 critic

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. ... See full summary »


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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Carolyn Lee ...
Aunt Phoebe Cobb
Louey (as Rochester)
Warren Hymer ...
Wolf (as Horace MacMahon)
Ruby Elzy ...
Jack Teagarden ...
Danny Beck ...
Harry Barris ...
Perry Botkin Sr. ...
Leo (as Perry Botkin)
Minor Watson ...
Henri Lambert
Harry Rosenthal ...
Piano Player


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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Strike Up The Band ! * Here comes happiness . . . in a merry medley of romance . . . and rhythm !




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Release Date:

7 November 1941 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Sinfonia Bárbara  »

Box Office


$857,283 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


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 »


Minuet in G
from "6 Humoresques de Concert"
Music by Ignacy Jan Paderewski
Performed by Ronnie Cosby
See more »

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User Reviews

Birth of the why is it so focused on all those white people?!
8 August 2012 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

The blues is a black American invention...period. So, seeing and hearing Bing Crosby and a bunch of white actors singing what they refer to as 'the blues' and its birth is pretty a sad way. It's a lot like the 1950s when black rock 'n roll songs were remade by dull white singers--such as when (I kid you not) Pat Boone remade Little Richard's "Tutti Frutti"--and outsold the original! Sad...very sad.

Now despite the title of the film being 100% ridiculous, there is one other problem with the film. Most of the music is NOT the Blues but Dixieland--a much happier and bouncier variation on Jazz and the Blues. Now I don't mind this style of music--but this isn't the film's title! So is the film worth seeing? Well, yes--provided you don't take the film very seriously. The actors (Bing Crosby, Brian Donlevy and Mary Martin) are fine--but very white and middle-class. An enjoyable film but not at all a tribute to the black men who created this music. While the black men are mentioned (such as by using enlightened phrases like folks referring to it as 'darkie music'!), this is clearly a white-wash--though an enjoyable one.

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