In a juke joint, sharecropper Zeke falls for a beautiful dancer, Chick, but she's only setting him up for a rigged craps game. He loses $100, the money he got for the sale of his family's ... See full summary »
Daniel L. Haynes,
Nina Mae McKinney,
Based on the story "See How They Run," which ran in the June 1951 issue of "The Ladies' Home Journal" and subsequently won that year's Christopher Award. The story was written by Mary ... See full summary »
In Buenos Aires, a man who has decreed that his daughters must marry in order of age allows an American dancer to perform at his club under the condition that he play suitor to his second-oldest daughter.
William A. Seiter
A fellow-jazz-fan in the US recently sent me this on video. I enjoyed it immensely. I can't pretend it's a good film. The story and its treatment are reminiscent of the straight bits in Marx Brothers films (the ones that had straight bits, that is). But instead of Groucho and Harpo, Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday do their stuff, and bring the film to life.
Plus points for jazz fans are that several of the numbers are seen and heard complete, rather than faded out; both Billie and Louis were still near their best; the other musicians, including Kid Ory and Barney Bigard, get to solo, and you hear -- and see - an early version of the Armstrong All-Stars really swinging. There's also a rare sight of the great (and now disappeared) Lucky Thompson behind Louis in one sequence.
A personal note: one of my very first records (78 rpm, early 1950s) was Louis' "Where the Blues Was Born". I guess I had the studio, not the soundtrack version, but both are terrific. It was amazing to SEE that long-treasured performance.
"New Orleans" would not go down well with latter-day jazz musicians because Billie's shown as a maid, and Woody Herman (white) comes into the story for no earthly reason beyond the fact that he was a big name in 1947. But if you can see and hear past all that, the music makes it worthwhile.
OK, it's not a good film. But how many jazz films are? "Jammin' the Blues," "Pete Kelly's Blues," "Sven Klang's Combo," "Round Midnight," and that's it. Only three of those are feature-length, and two are European. For anyone who loves the music, "New Orleans" is well worth viewing.
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