What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… Young Man With A Horn (1950)

For today’s movie, we’ve got one that’s pulling double-duty! Besides being a recent release on Blu-ray, it also features actress and singer Doris Day, our Star Of The Month! That movie is the 1950 film Young Man With A Horn, which also stars Kirk Douglas and Lauren Bacall! Of course, we have a few theatrical shorts included on that Blu-ray release to get through first, and then it’s on to the movie!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Hillbilly Hare (1950)

(available as an extra on the Young Man With A Horn Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 7 minutes, 25 seconds)

Bugs Bunny faces off against two hillbillies out to feud with him. A fun cartoon I’ve enjoyed seeing since childhood. While it starts out with the two hillbillies trying to shoot him, the real fun begins with the “square dance.” Never fails to get me to laughing hysterically with all the stuff that Bugs manages to get them to do!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Homeless Hare (1950)

(available as an extra on the Young Man With A Horn Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 7 minutes, 6 seconds)

When a construction worker destroys Bugs’ home, he vows revenge. Another type of Bugs cartoon in which he is wronged, and decides to fight back. You just know that construction worker won’t know what hit him. Of course, I was surprised to see him get one good shot in on Bugs partway through, but at least that allows for some variety. Still worth a few good laughs!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Hurdy-Gurdy Hare (1950)

(available as an extra on the Young Man With A Horn Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 6 minutes, 58 seconds)

Bugs buys a hurdy-gurdy and a monkey, hoping to make big money. But when he fires the monkey for not turning over the money, the monkey turns to a big gorilla to get back at Bugs. This one takes a moment to really get into the spirit of the thing, but, once it gets going, it’s a lot of fun! While the gags may not be the most original, it’s still fun to root for Bugs to win out (and enjoy a few good laughs along the way)!

And Now For The Main Feature…

As a young boy, little Rick Martin (Orley Lindgren) loses both his parents and is sent to live with his sister. He mostly keeps to himself, but one day he walks by a local mission. Mesmerized by the music, he listens and, after the service, teaches himself how to play the piano. He learns it quickly, but also feels a strong compulsion to play the trumpet. Unable to buy one, he starts working in a bowling alley to earn enough. One time, while on a break, he hears some jazz music from the club next door, and he decides to listen from outside the door. One time, when he is just listening to the band play when the club is closed, he accidentally makes his presence known. The lead trumpet player, Art Hazzard (Juano Hernandez), invites him in to listen, and is impressed when Rick knows what he’s talking about. So, Art helps him buy a trumpet, and teaches him how to play it. As he grows up, Rick (now played as an adult by Kirk Douglas) becomes quite talented. He ends up joining an orchestra lead by Jack Chandler (Walter Reed). While part of that orchestra, he meets and befriends piano player Smoke Willoughby (Hoagy Carmichael) and the orchestra’s singer, Jo Jordan (Doris Day). Rick likes to improvise with his music, but Chandler only wants his orchestra to play the music as written. Rick tries to control himself, but one night, during a break, he convinces Smoke and a few other musicians to join him in a jam session. Rick is promptly fired, and Smoke goes with him. After a while, the two decide to go their separate ways, and Rick makes his way to New York City. While there, he finds his old friend and mentor Art Hazzard playing at a club, and he decides to join him. Jo, who has also been doing very well, brings around orchestra leader Phil Morrison (Jerome Cowan), who gives Rick a job. So, for a while, Rick plays with Phil’s orchestra (doing it Phil’s way), and then leaves afterwards to join Art at the other club (where he can play his own way). One time, Jo brings along a friend of hers, Amy North (Lauren Bacall). Rick starts to fall for Amy (even though she warns him that she may be incapable of love), and they soon get married. However, they start to drift apart almost immediately, and Rick’s other relationships start to suffer as he tries to keep his marriage together. Art Hazzard meets him in a bar and tries to intervene. Rick is frustrated with everything and lashes out at Art, even though he doesn’t really mean it. However, in leaving the bar, Art is hit by a car. When Rick hears about the accident later, he tries to go see Art, but is too late, as Art is already dead by that time. Things come to a head with Amy, and they decide to get a divorce. Rick really starts to drink a lot, and finds himself struggling to play his trumpet well. He goes so far off the skids as to be picked up by a taxi driver and taken to rehab for his alcoholism. However, he has also come down with pneumonia, which has left him in bad shape. Can he recover, both from his illness and his alcoholism, or will this be it for Rick?

Young Man With A Horn is based on the 1938 fictional novel of the same name by Dorothy Baker. Her story was said to be inspired by the music of jazz cornetist Bix Beiderbecke. Cast member Hoagy Carmichael actually knew Bix Beiderbecke, and thus lends an air of authenticity to the movie. It’s been said that Kirk Douglas worked with Larry Sullivan, a studio musician at Warner Brothers, to make his trumpet playing look realistic, and Harry James dubbed his trumpet playing.

It’s probably no surprise that Doris Day’s presence in this movie is the main reason I wanted to see it (although the other two big stars in this movie certainly didn’t hurt). I enjoyed the film quite a bit. While it was Doris Day’s fourth film overall (and I’ve so far seen two of the earlier three), it’s interesting to see her in her first dramatic role. Obviously, it wasn’t a huge stretch for her to play a band singer (since she had been one), but I do feel she does well in the part, as we see her character come to care for Kirk’s Rick Martin, and try to help him out. As always, she is in fine voice for the various songs she does sing, and that works fine for me. The score overall is fun to listen to, with a few familiar songs, including one that “foreshadows,” if you will, her next film. Granted, she doesn’t sing the song “Tea For Two,” as it’s part of a montage of music being played by Kirk’s Rick Martin, but it’s fun just the same. And Kirk himself does well throughout the movie. I was entranced by his performance as we watched his ups and downs, both personally and professionally. Overall, a very enjoyable movie. The only part I wasn’t fond of was the ending. Now, I do enjoy (and prefer) happy endings in most of the movies I watch, but this one feels unearned. If what I’ve read on Imdb is true, then apparently this ending was forced on the film by Jack Warner, while director Michael Curtiz and Kirk Douglas wanted it a bit more downbeat, which would have been more accurate to what Bix Beiderbecke went through. To be fair, it’s not as bad as the forced ending on another one of Doris Day’s films (and you’ll find out which one later this month), and didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the movie. So, I would still definitely recommend this one without any reservations!

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection. Their Blu-ray makes use of a new remaster from a 4K scan of nitrate fine grain film elements (since the original camera negative is gone), and, boy, does this movie look (and SOUND) great! Seriously, this is indeed the way to enjoy this wonderful film!

Film Length: 1 hour, 52 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

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List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Out Of The Past (1947) – Kirk Douglas – Two Weeks In Another Town (1962)

Dark Passage (1947) – Lauren Bacall – Designing Woman (1957)

My Dream Is Yours (1949)Doris DayTea For Two (1950)

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