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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>
Good-natured and entertaining with great songs and performances
Not a great film, and as far as Victor Schertzinger-directed and Bing Crosby and Mary Martin films go, there is a preference for 'Rhythm on the River'. However, despite the script, story and characterisation not being as strong as the rest this is good-natured entertainment.
The songs and performances especially make much more of an impression than the aforementioned not-so-good things. The story is paper-thin, shallow and contrived. While the script has its fun, light-hearted and heart-warming moments, it's also talky, hokey and even flimsier than the storytelling. Despite strong performances, not much attention was given to characterisation, which is barely there.
On the other hand, it is a very handsome looking film and very well directed by Schertzinger. The songs are simply great, standouts being the title song, "St Louis Blues", "Melancholy Baby" (definitely a highlight here) and the jazzy rendition of "Wait Till The Sun Shines Nellie". Even with its faults, there is something about 'Birth of Blues' that stops one from being too hard on it, it's funny, charming and good-natured.
Performances are great, with Bing Crosby and Mary Martin singing in a way that takes you to another world that you don't want to leave, while they look comfortable and are charming. Brian Donlevy is delightfully roguish, J. Carrol Naish agreed seems incapable of being bad and while real-life trombonist Jack Teagarden is better as a trombonist than an actor there is denying how much of a legend he was on the instrument.
In summary, not great but a good, fun film that are lifted particularly by great songs and a talented cast giving their all. 7/10 Bethany Cox
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