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In 1927 Kansas City Pete Kelly and his jazz band play nightly at a speakeasy. A local gangster starts to move in on them and when their drummer is killed Kelly gives in, even though this also means taking the thug's alcoholic girl as a singer. Kelly soon realises he has made a big mistake selling out in this way and that rich girl Ivy is now the only decent thing in his life. Written by
Jeremy Perkins <email@example.com>
Jack Webb takes up the trumpet and takes on local gangsters in this colorful if at times somewhat peculiar movie about jazz musicians in the Kansas City of the Roaring Twenties. The story is disappointingly shallow and by-the-numbers, but there's some great music and songs from, among others, Peggy Lee and Ella Fitzgerald, courtesy of Ray Heindorf and Sammy Cahn.
Webb was a strange case. A true pioneer of early television production, and in his way a true innovator, he made a virtue out of impassivity. He directs this one with more energy than his TV shows, but the dryness and apathy are still there. When he's dealing with conventional players, like Martin Milner, it's like he's directing himself. But when he's got a live wire, like Lee Marvin, who has a colorful supporting role in this one, or Andy Devine, who has an offbeat one, he seems almost to have the makings of an American Fellini. Deep down, I suspect, that Webb really loved crazy people. He just didn't know how to show it.
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