Blues in the Night (1941)

Passed  |   |  Crime, Drama, Music  |  15 November 1941 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 667 users  
Reviews: 26 user | 12 critic

"Jigger' Lane forms a band that includes singer Ginger 'Character' Powell, wife of the trumpeter Leo Powelll, and Nickie Haroyen and Peppi. All of them dedicate themselves to work as a unit... See full summary »



(from a play by), (screen play), 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Betty Field ...
Richard Whorf ...
Del Davis
Leo Powell
Brad Ames (as Wally Ford)
Nickie Haroyen
Peter Whitney ...
Pete Bossett
Billy Halop ...
Howard Da Silva ...
Sam Paryas
Herbert Heywood ...
George Lloyd ...
Charles C. Wilson ...
Barney (as Charles Wilson)
Matt McHugh ...


"Jigger' Lane forms a band that includes singer Ginger 'Character' Powell, wife of the trumpeter Leo Powelll, and Nickie Haroyen and Peppi. All of them dedicate themselves to work as a unit and to play 'blues' music. The dedication isn't paying off in money and, while riding the rails in a boxcar, they meet and befriend a gangster named Del Davis. He offers them a job at a New Jersey roadhouse, where Powell falls in love with Kay Grant, a former 'real-good friend' of Davis. But when Powell learns that 'Character' is about to have a baby, he returns to her. "Jigger" tries to make Kay the band's singer and, when this fails, runs off with her. She leaves him with nothing to show for him except a nervous breakdown.Back at the roadhouse, after his recovery, Kay shows up, has a quarrel with Davis, shoots and kills him and plans to take back up with "Jigger", who knows better but just can't help himself. While she is waiting in a car for him, along comes cripple Brad Ames, who she put in ... Written by Les Adams <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


2 GRAND BANDS! JIMMY LUNCEFORD'S and WILL OSBORNE'S! MUSIC GALORE! (original print media ad - mostly caps) See more »


Crime | Drama | Music


Passed | See all certifications »




Release Date:

15 November 1941 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Hot Nocturne  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The melody of "The Man That Got Away" was actually written for this film as an up-tempo song called "I Can't Believe My Eyes". Harold Arlen disliked the Johnny Mercer lyric and put it in his trunk unused, only to pull it out years later to give to Ira Gershwin, who wrote a masterful new lyric for A Star Is Born (1954). See more »


When Brad and Kay crash their car toward the end of the movie, The car looks like a '40 or '41 Buick. The car in the crash is an much older car. See more »


Brad Ames: Before it's too late, get her out of your system.
Jigger Pine: I don't think I can. I just don't think I can.
See more »


Referenced in Sucker Punch (2011) See more »


In Waikiki
Music by Arthur Schwartz
Lyrics by Johnny Mercer
Sung a cappella by Jack Carson, Peter Whitney and Elia Kazan
See more »

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User Reviews

Skip the Last Half
11 March 2008 | by (Claremont,USA) – See all my reviews

Great first twenty minutes: the hip dialogue, the jazzy atmosphere, the lively camera action, and especially the jailhouse scene where white men's ambitions meet up with black men's soul. I thought this would be something special, but the last half blows it. I'm guessing scripter Robert Rossen didn't know where to go with his novel characters and noirish ambiance. So he ends up with a melodramatic love affair that's neither believable nor well-acted.

Ahh, but that first part. It's sort of like the 1930's meeting up with the 40's-- the jive band jumping aboard a freight train like any other footloose hobo. But they don't care; they're making cutting-edge music and it's a special bond. Halop and Kazan make great hipsters, as does Carson's shifty-eyed trumpeter. Whorf hasn't much range, but as a dreamy-eyed composer, he's perfect. Notice how up-tempo are the dialogue delivery and camera moves-- it's a super-charged atmosphere even as the the night hangs heavy over their vibrant little spark.

Things go downhill once they hook up with The Jungle and Betty Field. The roadhouse is okay and a good fringes-of-the-law place for them to perform. But Field has all the seductive charm of fingernails across a blackboard, while having Whorf fall for her is totally out of character. Maybe if she had seduced him first, his obsession would make sense. But the way it's handled, his plight is little more than a poorly done contrivance.

Maybe the plot jumps overboard, but the visuals remain fascinating They're exotic and artistically composed. And those surreal montages show real flair, especially Whorf's delirious fantasies. All in all, the movie's a genuine oddity, something like a noirish musical. But the only number played to completion is that novelty tune with the buck-toothed singer. So calling it a musical is a stretch. Actually, it's an animal without a pedigree. Nonetheless, there's a really compelling image that stays with me-- the band making with the blues in a boxcar as the train rolls on through the night, going who knows where. Now, there's a final note to ponder.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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