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)

TFTMM 2019 & WOIANRA 2018 on… Two Weeks In Another Town (1962)

Here we are for the 1962 movie Two Weeks In Another Town, starring Kirk Douglas, Edward G. Robinson and Cyd Charisse.

Washed-up actor Jack Andrus (Kirk Douglas) has been staying at a sanitarium due to his alcoholism and general life issues. He got a message from his frequent director Maurice Kruger (Edward G. Robinson) to come to Rome and do a small part in the movie he was working on. Once there, however, he finds that there is no part, but Kruger asks for his help in getting the dubbing done for the movie. Of course, he finds the whole production to be a mess, with a quick deadline in which to finish the entire movie before somebody else is brought in to do it, the leading man (George Hamilton) is angry with the whole business and Kruger is apparently having an affair with the leading lady (and his wife knows about it, too). When Kruger has a heart attack, Jack tries to help finish the movie.

I have to admit, going into this movie, I had some relatively low expectations due to a lot of what I had read. The movie is the follow-up to what is considered one of the best dramas about Hollywood itself, The Bad And The Beautiful, which also stars Kirk Douglas and was directed by Vincente Minelli (heck, this movie even shows a few scenes from that movie as an “example” of what Andrus and Kruger had done before). I haven’t seen the earlier film, and I admit, it wasn’t one I had any interest in. I tried this movie because of actress (and dancer) Cyd Charisse (although having Kirk Douglas and Edward G. Robinson in this movie didn’t hurt, either). In spite of what I had heard previously, I ended up enjoying the movie and the performances of all the actors and actresses involved. And right now, I admit to also being curious about the earlier movie as well.

Does this movie have flaws? Yes. I’m not thrilled with the fact that Kirk Douglas’s character is somewhat abusive with some (but not necessarily all) of the female characters (but then again, outside of Daliah Lavi’s Veronica, very few characters come out of this movie looking squeaky-clean for one reason or another). The movie is a little loose with its plot (although, from what I’ve read, nowhere near as much as the novel it is based on). Part of the problem here is apparently how involved the censors and studio executives were in trying to make this more of a family movie (and how well they did with that is debatable for the reason I already specified). The use of rear projection screens is also somewhat disconcerting and quite noticeable, especially in a later scene when you should be feeling a little more fear because of how Jack Andrus is driving, but the rear projection really takes you out of the moment. If, and only if, you can get past these points, then I do think this is an enjoyable movie, and one I would recommend.

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Archive Collection.

Film Length: 1 hour, 47 minutes

My Rating: 7/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Young Man With A Horn (1950) – Kirk Douglas

The Ten Commandments (1956) – Edward G. Robinson

Silk Stockings (1957) – Cyd Charisse

Marjorie Morningstar (1958) – Claire Trevor

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you).  If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2018) on… Out of the Past (1947)

Time for another noir for the wonderful month of Noirvember: that 1947 classic Out of the Past, starring Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer, and Kirk Douglas!

Robert Mitchum plays Jeff Bailey, a former private eye.  As we find out, he was hired by mobster Whit Sterling (Kirk Douglas) to find his girlfriend, Kathie Moffat (Jane Greer), who had run out on him (after shooting him) with $40,000.  Jeff finds her and falls in love with her, as they try to keep away from Whit.  Jeff’s private eye partner finds them, and threatens to turn them in, but Kathie kills him and leaves Jeff.  Later, after hiding out as the owner of a gas station, Whit finds Jeff again and hires him, with the intent to frame him for another murder.

From what I gather, the movie helped propel the careers of its various stars.  This managed to be the second starring role for Robert Mitchum, and it would make him a star, particularly in the film noir genre, which he would revisit numerous times over the years.  At the time, Kirk Douglas was a bit of a newcomer, but his role in this movie helped to establish him as a good villain for a few noirs, while he continued to rise as a star.  It also helped Jane Greer, who was just starting to become noticed.  Of course, the movie itself would be remade again in the 80s, as Against All Odds, which would feature Jane Greer playing the mother of her character!

Now, I’ll admit, prior to seeing this movie, I hadn’t really seen too many film noirs.  Oh, maybe a few of Humphrey Bogart’s movies, but that was it, for the most part.  I had seen Warner Archive release this movie on Blu-ray, but I wasn’t really interested in it until my family recorded it from Turner Classic Movies on our DVR a few months later.  While I missed bits and pieces of it as my father watched it, from what I could see, it looked like it would be a worthwhile movie.  Once I got my hands on the Blu-ray, I was able to see for myself just what the movie was like (and be able to understand the plot a whole lot better).  This is a movie I enjoyed, and I have been seeking out a few other film noirs ever since.

The movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Archive Collection.

Film Length: 1 hour, 36 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

Audience Rating:

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Robert Mitchum – Holiday Affair (1949)

Kirk Douglas – Young Man With A Horn (1950)

Rhonda Fleming – A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court (1949)