Young Man with a Horn (1950)

111 mins | Drama | 11 March 1950

Director:

Michael Curtiz

Producer:

Jerry Wald

Cinematographer:

Ted McCord

Production Designer:

Edward Carrere

Production Company:

Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
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HISTORY

According to reviews, this film is loosely based on the life of cornet player Bix Beiderbecke, a renowned jazz musician of the 1920s and 1930s. Beiderbecke first learned to play the piano before taking up the cornet at fourteen. In the 1920s, he played with The Wolverines, and later joined Paul Whiteman's band. Beiderbecke drank heavily and in late 1929, he left Whiteman's band permanently and returned to Davenport to convalesce. He died in 1931, at the age of twenty-eight, from lobar pneumonia and edema of the brain. According to a news item in HR on 10 Oct 1941, Producer Benjamin Glazer's next production was to be an adaptation of Dorothy Baker's best-selling novel on Beiderbecke, with a screenplay to be written by himself and Theodore Reed . Reed was said to be set to direct the project, which was being offered to various studios. It has not been determined at what point Glazer and Reed's participation in the project ended.
       According to contemporary sources, Warner Bros. studio musician Larry Sullivan coached Kirk Douglas so that his trumpet playing would look realistic on screen. Harry James played Douglas' trumpet solos offscreen, and Jimmy Zito dubbed those of Juano Hernandez. According to publicity material, several well-known jazz musicians of the day, including Bumps Meyers, George Washington, Oscar Bradley, Rocky Robinson and Zutty Singleton performed in the film's background bands. Scenes were filmed on location at the Aragon Ballroom in Ocean Park, the ballroom of the Beverly-Wilshire Hotel, a Skid Row midnight mission and a black church in East Los Angeles, according to publicity material. Some background scenes were filmed in New York City. ... More Less

According to reviews, this film is loosely based on the life of cornet player Bix Beiderbecke, a renowned jazz musician of the 1920s and 1930s. Beiderbecke first learned to play the piano before taking up the cornet at fourteen. In the 1920s, he played with The Wolverines, and later joined Paul Whiteman's band. Beiderbecke drank heavily and in late 1929, he left Whiteman's band permanently and returned to Davenport to convalesce. He died in 1931, at the age of twenty-eight, from lobar pneumonia and edema of the brain. According to a news item in HR on 10 Oct 1941, Producer Benjamin Glazer's next production was to be an adaptation of Dorothy Baker's best-selling novel on Beiderbecke, with a screenplay to be written by himself and Theodore Reed . Reed was said to be set to direct the project, which was being offered to various studios. It has not been determined at what point Glazer and Reed's participation in the project ended.
       According to contemporary sources, Warner Bros. studio musician Larry Sullivan coached Kirk Douglas so that his trumpet playing would look realistic on screen. Harry James played Douglas' trumpet solos offscreen, and Jimmy Zito dubbed those of Juano Hernandez. According to publicity material, several well-known jazz musicians of the day, including Bumps Meyers, George Washington, Oscar Bradley, Rocky Robinson and Zutty Singleton performed in the film's background bands. Scenes were filmed on location at the Aragon Ballroom in Ocean Park, the ballroom of the Beverly-Wilshire Hotel, a Skid Row midnight mission and a black church in East Los Angeles, according to publicity material. Some background scenes were filmed in New York City. Contemporary reviews noted that James's commercial sound was out of character for a supposedly avant garde jazz musician like "Rick Martin." More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
11 Feb 1950.
---
Daily Variety
8 Feb 50
p. 3, 9
Film Daily
8 Feb 50
p. 11.
Hollywood Citizen-News
13 Feb 1950.
---
Hollywood Reporter
10 Oct 41
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Jul 49
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Sep 49
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Feb 50
p. 3, 12
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
12 Feb 50
p. 185.
New York Times
10 Feb 50
p. 18.
Time
27 Feb 1950.
---
Variety
8 Feb 50
p. 11.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Warner Bros.--First National Picture
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dial dir
Asst dir
Asst dir
2d unit dir
PRODUCER
Prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Asst cam
Gaffer
Stills
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus dir
Mus adv
SOUND
VISUAL EFFECTS
2d unit montage dir
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
Best boy
STAND INS
Kirk Douglas' trumpet solos
Juano Hernandez' trumpet solos
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Young Man with a Horn by Dorothy Baker (New York, 1938).
AUTHOR
MUSIC
"Moanin' Low" by Ralph Rainger
"Get Happy" by Harold Arlen
"Can't We Be Friends?" by Kay Swift
+
MUSIC
"Moanin' Low" by Ralph Rainger
"Get Happy" by Harold Arlen
"Can't We Be Friends?" by Kay Swift
"Chinatown, My Chinatown" by Jean Swartz
"Sweet Georgia Brown" by Ben Bernie, Maceo Pinkard, Kenneth Casey.
+
SONGS
"In the Sweet Bye and Bye," words by Vincent P. Bryan, music by Harry Von Tilzer
"The Very Thought of You," words and music by Ray Noble
"Too Marvelous for Words," words by Johnny Mercer, music by Richard A. Whiting
+
SONGS
"In the Sweet Bye and Bye," words by Vincent P. Bryan, music by Harry Von Tilzer
"The Very Thought of You," words and music by Ray Noble
"Too Marvelous for Words," words by Johnny Mercer, music by Richard A. Whiting
"I May Be Wrong, But I Think You're Wonderful," words by Harry Ruskin, music by Henry Sullivan
"Swing Low, Sweet Chariot," traditional, arranged by Henry Thacker Burleigh
"Nobody Knows de Trouble I've Seen," traditional
"With a Song in My Heart," words by Lorenz Hart, music by Richard Rodgers.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
11 March 1950
Production Date:
mid July--early September 1949
Copyright Claimant:
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
30 April 1950
Copyright Number:
LP124
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
111
Length(in feet):
10,035
Country:
United States
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Musician Smoke Willoughby reminisces about his old friend, legendary trumpet player Rick Martin: After his mother dies when he is about nine, Rick moves in with his sister in California. One day, when she is out for the evening, Rick wanders into a mission church and is fascinated by the piano there. Having decided to take up some kind of instrument, Rick notices a trumpet in a pawn shop window and gets a job in a bowling alley to pay for it. Next to the bowling alley is an after-hours club, where Rick hears jazz for the first time. He is befriended by black trumpet player Art Hazzard, who gladly teaches his young apprentice what he knows. When Rick is older, he is able to find jobs playing for carnivals and dance marathons, but Art advises against pursuig a career as a musician, warning him that it is a hard life. Ignoring the advice of his friend, Rick follows Art to New York and there he gets a job playing trumpet for big band leader Jack Chandler and makes friends with Smoke and singer Jo Jordan. Chandler insists that Rick play the music exactly as written, but after he is finished for the night, Rick plays the jazz he loves at a small club. One night, Chandler fires Rick after he plays a jazzy number during a break, and despite Jo's efforts on his behalf, Rick refuses to go back when Chandler offers to rehire him. Later, Rick learns from Jo that Art has been sick and returns to New York. Jo gets him a job with another dance orchestra, where he ... +


Musician Smoke Willoughby reminisces about his old friend, legendary trumpet player Rick Martin: After his mother dies when he is about nine, Rick moves in with his sister in California. One day, when she is out for the evening, Rick wanders into a mission church and is fascinated by the piano there. Having decided to take up some kind of instrument, Rick notices a trumpet in a pawn shop window and gets a job in a bowling alley to pay for it. Next to the bowling alley is an after-hours club, where Rick hears jazz for the first time. He is befriended by black trumpet player Art Hazzard, who gladly teaches his young apprentice what he knows. When Rick is older, he is able to find jobs playing for carnivals and dance marathons, but Art advises against pursuig a career as a musician, warning him that it is a hard life. Ignoring the advice of his friend, Rick follows Art to New York and there he gets a job playing trumpet for big band leader Jack Chandler and makes friends with Smoke and singer Jo Jordan. Chandler insists that Rick play the music exactly as written, but after he is finished for the night, Rick plays the jazz he loves at a small club. One night, Chandler fires Rick after he plays a jazzy number during a break, and despite Jo's efforts on his behalf, Rick refuses to go back when Chandler offers to rehire him. Later, Rick learns from Jo that Art has been sick and returns to New York. Jo gets him a job with another dance orchestra, where he becomes very popular, and after hours, he helps out Art at Louis Galba's nightclub. One night, Jo brings her friend Amy North to hear Rick play. Amy, who is studying to be a psychiatrist, blames her physician father for her mother's death by suicide and, as a result, believes that she is incapable of love. Nonetheless, Rick falls in love with her, and they are married. After their marriage, Rick and Amy are driven apart by his dedication to his music. Rick works at night and Amy goes to school in the daytime, so they seldom see each other. The situation grows steadily worse, and when Art comes looking for Rick because he hasn't been to Galba's in months, Rick lashes out at him. Later, a distraught Art is hit by a car. When he hears about the accident, Rick rushes to the hospital, but Art dies before they can be reconciled. Devastated, Rick returns home to learn that Amy has flunked her finals and wants a divorce. Rick's playing suffers, and he begins to drink heavily and finally collapses. After he recovers, he suggests to Smoke that they make their own records. Although Smoke is convinced that no one will buy them, he agrees to attempt it, but Rick is unable to complete a solo and in frustration, destroys his trumpet. Afterward, he disappears. After suffering an extended breakdown, Rick, who is ill with pneumonia, is taken by a taxi driver to a drunk tank. Smoke discovers his whereabouts and calls Jo and Amy. Amy does not come, but loyal Jo helps Rick recover. Now that he has discovered his heart, Rick is able to become a great musician. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.