A Song is Born

Producer Samuel Goldwyn with Lionel Hampton and Benny Goodman on the cover of Billboard Magazine dated Sep 27, 1947 promoting A Song is Born, which premiered over a year later, on Oct 19, 1948.  Lionel was part of Benny Goodman’s integrated trio and quartet 1936-39.

A Song is Born

Virginia Mayo hides out with the music professors in A Song is Born (1948)

A Song is Born

Benny Goodman on clarinet and Lionel Hampton on vibes with Danny Kaye and Virginia Mayo in a scene from A Song is Born (1948)

A Song is Born

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Benny Goodman on clarinet, and one of Buck and Bubbles at the piano in an original publicity still for A Song is Born (1948) with Danny Kaye.

A Song is Born

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Charlie Barnet, Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, Louis Armstrong and Lionel Hampton on vibes in a publicity still for A Song is Born (1948).

A Song is Born

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The back of this publicity still reads
SG3200  80

The object of their startled expressions is Virginia Mayo, en deshabile, in this scene from Samuel Goldwyn’s Technicolor comedy, “A Song is Born.”  The somewhat surprised gentlemen are O.Z. Whitehead, slightly en deshabile himself, Hugh Herbert and Felix Bressart.  The film, co-starring Danny Kaye and Virginia Mayo, is directed by Howard Hawks.

The professor with the jazz book looks more like Benny Goodman.

A Song is Born

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Benny Goodman consults a reference book with another Hawks work group, including Danny Kaye, in A Song is Born (1948).

A Song is Born

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cartoon Benny Goodman in a drawing for A Song is Born (1948)

A Song is Born

Howard Hawks on the set of A Song is Born with Tommy Dorsey, Charlie Barnet and Mel Powell

Howard Hawks directing A Song is Born (1948) with big band leaders Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, Charlie Barnet and Lionel Hampton.  This was Howard Hawks’ fourth film for independent producer Samuel Goldwyn.  Hawks said he only accepted it because Sam offered him a wad of loot after Hawks incurred out of pocket expenses on Red River.

A Song is Born

The back of this publicity still reads

Assisted by Danny Kaye the professors of classical music and a book of jazz. Benny Goodman tires to learn the intricacies of jazz in this scene from Samuel Goldwyn’s Technicolor comedy “A Song Is Born. ”  Seen are O.Z. Whitehead,  Danny, Hugh Hubert, J. Edward Bromber. Ludwig Stossel and Benny.  The film, which co-stars Danny and Virginia Mayo, is directed by Howard Hawks.

It must be a typo when Benny Goodman “tires to learn” and not “tries to learn” the intricacies of jazz.

And J. Edward Bromberg is misidentified as J. Edward Bromber.

 

A Song is Born

Benny Goodman was nicknamed The King of Swing, helping to popularize the music trend that had been popular for a few years already by black musicians such as Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Chick Webb and Fletcher Henderson.  Benny was born in Chicago and had 13 acting credits in his career from 1936 to A Song is Born in 1948, with a final acting gig on the tv series African Patrol (1958).

A Song is Born

 

Danny Kaye reads from a book on jazz with Benny Goodman on clarinet in A Song is Born (1948).  Benny’s biggest competition as leader of a big band on clarinet was Artie Shaw.  Late in life Artie was once asked about the state of popular music, replying “Madonna in a jock strap is not music.”

A Song is Born

publicity still for A Song is Born (1948), one of Howard Hawks’ four weak films.  There is literally no screenwriter credit during the on screen credits.  The only credit is for Billy Wilder’s original version, Ball of Fire.  Billy had absolutely no involvement in the remake.  If he had, A Song is Born wouldn’t have been as lousy.

A Song is Born

the jazz musicians are in a hostage situation in A Song is Born (1948)

A Song is Born

Mary Field reprises her role as Miss Totten from Ball of Fire in the misguided musical remake A Song is Born (1948).  Howard Hawks made the film as a favor to producer Samuel Goldwyn who offered him a boodle which he couldn’t resist after all the expenses of his previous film, Red River.  It was also an opportunity to film in color for the first time in his career.  The biggest problem with the film is that the leads Danny Kaye and Virginia Mayo are no match for Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck.  The film was a missed opportunity, as Bing Crosby worked for Goldwyn as recently as 1944, and he might have been terrific in the lead role, and many many actresses would have brought more personality and sex appeal than Miss Mayo.