6.4/10
322
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 »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win. See more awards »

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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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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 »
Show more on IMDbPro »

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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Did You Know?

Trivia

Though the movie is in black and white, in one scene, when Bing Crosby is singing "By the Light of the Silvery Moon" in a movie theater, a slide show being projected behind him is in full color, though Bing is still in black and white. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Night Court: The Blues of the Birth (1990) See more »

Soundtracks

After the Ball
(uncredited)
Music and Lyrics by Charles Harris (as Charles K. Harris)
Performed by orchestra at Black Tie Café
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

The little girl sparks a sort of magic
7 July 2001 | by ancient-andeanSee all my reviews

As with many musicals of the era, the little girl of the film sparks a sort of magic, something Carolyn Lee was quite good at. She first appears as six-year-old "Aunt Phoebe" sliding down a spiral banister and landing on Bing Crosby's lap, after which she smashes his lucky hat. Bing, nice guy that he is, takes her on his lap and smiles tremendously. So Phoebe becomes a sort of mascot/hanger-on of the early New Orleans blues band that struggles to survive against strong prejudices against "darkie" music. Every time she opens her little mouth to say a few lines I found myself giggling at her. Some of her pranks are quite memorable. I especially liked the scene where she paints herself in white-face and puts a girdle on for a dress. Her little broom dance with Rochester is also adorable. Carolyn was a very funny little girl. Towards the end of the movie Bing picks her up and lullabies her to sleep with the #1 hit song of 1941, "Melancholy Baby". I never imagined this song was written to sing to six-year-old Carolyn Lee. The Melancholy Baby scene alone is worth the price of admission.

The movie is well filmed, the jazz is great, the acting good and the story interesting. Bing is at his best, Mary Martin is gorgeous and Brian Donlevy with his rakish mustache is quite the rogue. One thing I liked about the film was the close, friendly relationships between the African-American and White jazz musicians. Seems like the jazz folks were ahead of their time and we can only wish that the rest of the country will eventually catch up.


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