A Song Is Born (1948)

Passed  |   |  Comedy, Musical  |  19 October 1948 (USA)
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Reviews: 25 user | 17 critic

Gangster's moll Honey Swanson goes into hiding when her boyfriend is under investigation by the police. Where better to hide than a musical research institute staffed entirely by lonely ... See full summary »



(based on the story "From A to Z" by), (based on the story "From A to Z" by), 2 more credits »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Lionel Hampton ...
Lionel Hampton
Charlie Barnet ...
Charlie Barnet
Mel Powell ...
Mel Powell
Buck and Bubbles ...
Page Cavanaugh Trio ...
Cavanaugh Trio (as The Page Cavanaugh Trio)
The Golden Gate Quartette ...
Golden Gate Quartette (as The Golden Gate Quartet)
Samba Kings ...
The Samba Kings (as Russo and the Samba Kings)
Professor Twingle
Tony Crow
J. Edward Bromberg ...
Dr. Elfini


Gangster's moll Honey Swanson goes into hiding when her boyfriend is under investigation by the police. Where better to hide than a musical research institute staffed entirely by lonely bachelors? She gets more than she bargained for when the head of the institute Professor Hobart Frisbee starts to fall for her. Written by Col Needham <col@imdb.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Danny's latest is his greatest!


Comedy | Musical


Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

19 October 1948 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

That's Life  »

Box Office


$2,400,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)



Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


In 1948, when "A Song Is Born" was released, the American Federation of Musicians was striking the record companies and union musicians could not legally make records. Nonetheless, the union allowed Capitol Records to make an album of music from the film because the company agreed to donate the proceeds to the Damon Runyon Cancer Fund, In the year between the film shooting and the recording sessions, Benny Goodman had radically changed the personnel of his band - notably adding two bebop musicians, trumpeter Theodore "Fats" Navarro and tenor saxophonist Wardell Gray - so the version of "Stealin' Apples" on the record doesn't sound at all like the one heard in the movie. See more »


At one point, during the last musical session when the two gangsters are holding everyone captive, the wires making the drum jump up and down can be seen. See more »


Honey Swanson: Oh, you're cute. Just a little sunlight in my hair and you had to water your neck.
See more »


Referenced in Superman II: Restoring the Vision (2006) See more »


Muskrat Ramble
(1926) (uncredited)
Written by Ray Gilbert and Kid Ory
Performed by Mel Powell and band members
See more »

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User Reviews

And all that jazz
31 May 2006 | by (New York) – See all my reviews

Howard Hawks remake of his 1941 comedy "Ball of Fire" was a vehicle for Danny Kaye, who was popular at the time. This film is based on a story by Billy Wilder and Thomas Monroe, which had also been the basis of the original film. The movie was shot in Technicolor, something that must have been one of the stipulations of its star, Danny Kaye.

By changing the original premise from learning about slang to learning about the new popular rhythms that had come out during the thirties and forties, the creators thought they were updating the basic idea, and they succeed, at times. The best thing in this film is the array of talent we see. Some of the giants in popular music of that time, are seen at their best in musical numbers that are clever and that reminds the viewer how classic compositions could relate to the new expressions.

The central story is just a pretext to present Danny Kaye, who is the nerdy professor Frisbee, and his co-star, Virginia Mayo, a night club singer, Honey Swanson. Professor Frisbee gets in hot water because unknown to him, Honey is involved with a gangster, Tony Crow, who doesn't want to let go of his beautiful girlfriend. Besides the two stars, Steve Cochran puts in an appearance as Tony.

Some of the best known popular musicians of that era are seen doing wonderful music together. Tommy Dorsey, Mel Powell, Buck and Bubbles, Charlie Barnett, Louis Armstrong, Lionel Hampton, and Benny Goodman, who plays one of the professors.

The film, while not as original as its model, is worth watching for the music alone. Music fans are in for a treat thanks to Mr. Hawks.

18 of 18 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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