6.4/10
336
13 user 5 critic

Birth of the Blues (1941)

Approved | | Music | 7 November 1941 (USA)
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 »

Writers:

Harry Tugend (story), Harry Tugend | 1 more credit »
Reviews
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win. See more awards »

Photos

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Bing Crosby ... Jeff Lambert
Mary Martin ... Betty Lou Cobb
Brian Donlevy ... Memphis
Carolyn Lee ... Aunt Phoebe Cobb
Eddie 'Rochester' Anderson ... Louey (as Rochester)
J. Carrol Naish ... Blackie
Warren Hymer ... Limpy
Horace McMahon ... Wolf (as Horace MacMahon)
Ruby Elzy Ruby Elzy ... Ruby
Jack Teagarden ... Pepper
Danny Beck Danny Beck ... Deek
Harry Barris ... Suds
Perry Botkin Sr. ... Leo (as Perry Botkin)
Minor Watson ... Henri Lambert
Harry Rosenthal Harry Rosenthal ... Piano Player
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Storyline

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 <grable@unity.ncsu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

It's "in the groove" - aimed right at your heart...THE THRILLING CLIMAX TO ALL THE MUSICAL HITS EVER FILMED! See more »

Genres:

Music

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

"The Screen Guild Theater" broadcast a 60 minute radio adaptation of the movie on January 18, 1951 with Bing Crosby again reprising his film role. See more »


Soundtracks

St. James Infirmary
(uncredited)
Music and Lyrics by Irving Mills
Sung by Bing Crosby
See more »

User Reviews

 
Good-natured and entertaining with great songs and performances
1 October 2016 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

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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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

7 November 1941 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Sinfonia Bárbara See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$857,283 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Color:

Color (Technicolor sequence)| Black and White

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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