A Song Is Born

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A SONG IS BORN—tired and tiring, a needless 1948 semi-musical remake of the 1941 Cooper-Stanwyck hit Ball Of Fire, from the same producer (Samuel Goldwyn) and director (Howard Hawks). The story of a bumbling professor (Danny Kaye) and his several egghead colleagues who become mixed up with a brassy dame (Virginia Mayo), who is bonded to a gangster (Steve Cochran).

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Not one of Kaye’s better showcases, even if you like him (an acquired taste). Cochran fares decently enough reprising the hood role originally done by Dana Andrews. Too long at 113 minutes, with few laughs, but there are musical appearances from Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, Charlie Barnet, Tommy Dorsey and Lionel Hampton, so retro hep-cats may find their gigs worth looking at.

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Eight writers labored over adapting the old script that four others had originally tooled: twelve hands are too many.  Hawks only did it for the money, and didn’t mince words: “Danny Kaye had separated from his wife, and he was a basket case, stopping work to see a psychiatrist every day. He was about as funny as a crutch. I never thought anything in that picture was funny. It was an altogether horrible experience.” He unloaded on Mayo as well: “She’s not Stanwyck, I’ll tell you that.” She wasn’t nuts about the director in return. She does look dynamite in Technicolor, through Gregg Toland’s camera.

Goldwyn laid on bread, $2,400,000, but results tanked when it brought back just $5,280,000, lagging 45th for the year in receipts.With Hugh Herbert, Felix Bressart, J. Edward Bromberg, Mary Field,Ludwig Stossel, O.Z. Whitehead and Sidney Blackmer.

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