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Birth Of The Blues/ Blue Skies (Double Feature) (1941)
Rating:
Starring: Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby, Joan Caulfield, Billy De Wolfe, Brian Donlevy, Carolyn Lee, Mary Martin, Rochester J. Carroll Naish, Olga San Juan
Director: Stuart Heisler, Victor Schertzinger
Category: Special Interest, Special Interest, Music
Studio: Universal Studios
Subtitles:
English,Spanish,French
Length:
182 mins

 
 

 

The Bing Crosby Collection Double Feature

Birth of the Blues
As a child, Jeff Lambert (Bing Crosby) hangs out in New Orleans' Basin Street, playing hot swing on his clarinet instead of the classics his father prefers. He's inspired by an African-American group there and, some years later, at the turn of the century, sets out to form a jazz band of his own. With cornetist Memphis (Brian Donlevy), singer Betty Lou Cobb (Mary Martin) and trombonist Jack Teagarden (of the Original Dixieland Jazz Group, after which the story is patterned), he's on his way.

A veritable history of jazz follows. From jump and jive to sweet romanticism, half a century of popular hits is given spectacular treatment. "By the Light of the Silvery Moon" is sung in a theatre with lantern slides on the screen. Singer Ruby Elzy's "St. Louis Blues" is backed by a chorus of eighty. And "Wait Till the Sun Shines, Nellie" brings Crosby and Martin together in a knockout duel. This bright, bouncy musical is as spirited as they come, and it features "Bing and Mary at their best." (Louella O. Parsons, Los Angeles Examiner)

Blue Skies
For what Fred Astaire had announced would be his last film, no expense was spared. This musical extravaganza boasts 30 Irving Berlin songs, 47 sets, sumptuous costumes, and a budget of $3,000,000. The result is sensational. (And, fortunately, Astaire did not retire from films!)

Dancing star Jed Potter (Astaire) and singer/nightclub owner Johnny Adams (Bing Crosby) are both in love with songstress Mary O'Hara (Joan Caulfield). She marries Johnny, but his passion for buying and selling nightclubs drives them apart. So Jed steps in, hoping to win Mary's heart-until fate steps in and changes the lives of all three.

The most outstanding number in Astaire's famous "Puttin' On the Ritz", a split-screen gem with a chorus of miniature Astairs top-dancing behind him. Designed by Astaire, it took five weeks of "back-breaking physical work" to achieve. Other highlights find Astaire and Crosby as "A Couple of song and Dance Men." and Crosby crooning a wealth of Berlin tunes, including the Oscar-nominated "You Keep Coming Back Like a Song". With its superb stars and sparkling numbers, Blue Skies is one of the all-time great musicals!