Rhapsody in Blue (1945)

139 mins | Biography, Musical | 22 September 1945

Director:

Irving Rapper

Producer:

Jesse L. Lasky

Cinematographer:

Sol Polito

Production Designers:

John Hughes, Anton Grot

Production Company:

Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
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HISTORY

George Gershwin was born in Brooklyn, New York on 26 Sep 1898. As depicted in the film, he began his musical career selling songs for the Remick publishing company when he was sixteen years old. Later he worked as a rehearsal pianist. When he was twenty, he was commissioned to write the score for La La Lucille and then wrote the music for five of George White's Scandals . He attracted the attention of serious composers with Rhapsody in Blue , which was first played by Paul Whiteman at the Aeolian Hall on 12 Feb 1924. His opera Porgy and Bess was the first to use an all-black cast. Although Gershwin had many romantic attachments, there was no counterpart in his life to the character of "Julie." He died of a brain tumor at age 38 on 11 Jul 1937.
       This film marked the motion picture debuts of Broadway actors Robert Alda and Herbert Rudley. Although DV lists the preview running time as 143 minutes, the Var review gives a running time of 130 minutes. In the film, Al Jolson sings "Swanee," the song he made famous, and Anne Brown, the original "Bess," sings "Summertime" from the opera Porgy and Bess . According to Var , the unbilled Tom Patricola "reprises 'Somebody Loves Me' as he did in 'Scandals.'" Paul Whiteman also re-creates some of his real-life numbers. Press releases included in the file on the film at the AMPAS Library add the following information about the production: Clifford Odets wrote an early version of the screenplay and Robert Rossen ... More Less

George Gershwin was born in Brooklyn, New York on 26 Sep 1898. As depicted in the film, he began his musical career selling songs for the Remick publishing company when he was sixteen years old. Later he worked as a rehearsal pianist. When he was twenty, he was commissioned to write the score for La La Lucille and then wrote the music for five of George White's Scandals . He attracted the attention of serious composers with Rhapsody in Blue , which was first played by Paul Whiteman at the Aeolian Hall on 12 Feb 1924. His opera Porgy and Bess was the first to use an all-black cast. Although Gershwin had many romantic attachments, there was no counterpart in his life to the character of "Julie." He died of a brain tumor at age 38 on 11 Jul 1937.
       This film marked the motion picture debuts of Broadway actors Robert Alda and Herbert Rudley. Although DV lists the preview running time as 143 minutes, the Var review gives a running time of 130 minutes. In the film, Al Jolson sings "Swanee," the song he made famous, and Anne Brown, the original "Bess," sings "Summertime" from the opera Porgy and Bess . According to Var , the unbilled Tom Patricola "reprises 'Somebody Loves Me' as he did in 'Scandals.'" Paul Whiteman also re-creates some of his real-life numbers. Press releases included in the file on the film at the AMPAS Library add the following information about the production: Clifford Odets wrote an early version of the screenplay and Robert Rossen was at one time assigned to work on the script from an outline prepared by Ira Gershwin and Kathryn Scola. (Although Odets and Rossen are mentioned in production files for the film, Scola is not.) Five original paintings from George Gershwin's personal art collection were loaned to Warner Bros. for use in the film. These included "Army Doctor" by Amedeo Modigliani; "Abstraction" by Antoine Masson; Georges Roualt's "Three Clowns;" and Maurice de Vlaminck's "Near Paris." Another press release notes that John Garfield was tested for the lead.
       An 8 Jul 1945 NYT article reports that Oscar Levant wanted the filmmakers to include a scene in which he quarrels with George Gershwin--as he frequently did--but the studio thought that an argument would put too much strain on the relationship between the two men as depicted in the film. HR news items add the following information about the production: Cary Grant was considered for the role of "George Gershwin." Kay Swift worked with Ira Gershwin on the musical arrangements. Levant dubbed Robert Alda's piano playing. Several theaters, including The Apollo, the Aeolian Hall, Times Square Theater, The Music Box, Carnegie Hall, Lewisohn Stadium, the Los Angeles Philharmonic Auditorium and His Majesty's Theatre in London, were recreated for the film. Nathan Levinson's sound recording was nomimated for an Oscar as was Ray Heindorf and Max Steiner's score. Gershwin's Var obituary notes that the rights to most of his music were controlled by the Warner Bros. publishing group. Although the CBCS credited character actress Lillian Bronson with the role of "Telephone operator," that part was played by Lillian Porter. Bronson was not in the released film, and it is possible that her listing in the CBCS was an error.
       In 1946, HR reported that Chico Marx sued Warner Bros for $200,000 for damages and "payment owed for services rendered." Marx alleged that the filmmakers used his name "many times" in the film. Studio officials admitted that Marx's name had been used in the film, but were unclear about what services the comedian had rendered. The disposition of the suit is not known.
       The film received Academy Award nominations in the Music (Scoring of a Musical Picture) and Sound Recording categories. Although modern sources state that Joan Leslie's singing voice was dubbed by Louanne Hogan, Leslie's voice was actually dubbed by Sally Sweetland. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
30 Jun 1945.
---
Box Office
15 Sep 1945.
---
Daily Variety
27 Jun 45
p. 3.
Down Beat
1 Jul 45
p. 7.
Down Beat
15 Aug 43
p. 6.
Film Daily
27 Jun 45
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Jul 37
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Jan 42
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Feb 42
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
1 May 42
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Aug 42
p. 23.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Jul 43
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Jul 43
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Jul 43
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Oct 43
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Dec 43
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Jun 45
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Jul 45
p. 16.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Mar 46
p. 1, 11
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
30 Jun 45
p. 2521.
New York Times
28 Jun 45
p. 22.
New York Times
8 Jul 1945.
---
Variety
27 Jun 45
p. 16.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Oliver Prickett
Elsa Basserman
+
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
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITERS
Orig story
Contr wrt
Contr wrt
Contr wrt
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Addl mus numbers photog
Addl mus numbers photog
Cam op
Asst cam
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
MUSIC
Mus adpt
Orch arr
Orch arr of "Rhapsody in Blue"
Vocal arr
"Rhapsody in Blue" orch cond
"Rhapsody in Blue" and "Concerto in F" piano solo
Clarinet solo "Rhapsody in Blue"
Addl piano solo rec
VISUAL EFFECTS
Dir spec eff
DANCE
Dance numbers created and dir by
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Best boy
Unit mgr
Scr clerk
STAND INS
Voice double for Joan Leslie
SOURCES
MUSIC
Concerto in F, Cuban Overture , An American in Paris and Rhapsody in Blue , by George Gershwin.
SONGS
"Smiles," words by J. Will Callahan, music by Lee G. Roberts
"Delishious" "Embraceable You," "Fascinating Rhythm," "I Got Rhythm," "Bidin' My Time," "It Ain't Necessarily So," "Oh, Lady Be Good," "Mine," "Love Walked In," "The Man I Love," "Someone to Watch Over Me," "'S Wonderful" and "Liza," words by Ira Gershwin, music by George Gershwin
"Has Anyone Seen My Joe," "135th Street Blues," "Blue Monday Blues" and "Do It Again," words by B. G. De Sylva, music by George Gershwin
+
SONGS
"Smiles," words by J. Will Callahan, music by Lee G. Roberts
"Delishious" "Embraceable You," "Fascinating Rhythm," "I Got Rhythm," "Bidin' My Time," "It Ain't Necessarily So," "Oh, Lady Be Good," "Mine," "Love Walked In," "The Man I Love," "Someone to Watch Over Me," "'S Wonderful" and "Liza," words by Ira Gershwin, music by George Gershwin
"Has Anyone Seen My Joe," "135th Street Blues," "Blue Monday Blues" and "Do It Again," words by B. G. De Sylva, music by George Gershwin
"Somebody Loves Me," Words by B. G. De Sylva and Ballard MacDonald, music by George Gerswhin. "Swanee," words by Irving Caesar, music by George Gershwin
"The Yankee Doodle Blues," words by Irving Caesar and B. G. DeSylva, music by George Gershwin
"Summertime," words by DuBose Heyward, music by George Gershwin
"I'll Build a Stairway to Paradise," words by B. G. De Sylva and Ira Gershwin, music by George Gershwin.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
22 September 1945
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 26 June 1945
Production Date:
19 July--12 October 1943
Copyright Claimant:
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
22 September 1945
Copyright Number:
LP13486
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
139
Length(in feet):
12,522
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

When young brothers George and Ira Gershwin are growing up on New York City's Lower East Side, their mother Rose saves enough money to buy a piano, so that Ira, the eldest, can take lessons. George becomes the student, however, when he demonstrates his natural musical abilities. Under the instruction of Professor Frank, George becomes progressively better at the piano. He first obtains a job as a pianist in a vaudeville theater and then in a music store, but his dream is to become a composer. One day singer Julie Adams comes into the store looking for music to use in an audition. George plays "Swanee," one of his own compositions, for her, but when his boss hears him, he loses his job. Later, George is offered a two-year contract at Harms, another music publisher, and Max Dreyfus, the company head, sells "Swanee" to Al Jolson, who makes it a hit. Despite Frank's warning against squandering his talents on popular music, George takes a job writing songs for the Broadway show Half Past Eight , starring Julie, but the show fails. After the success of George White's Scandals of 1921 , for which George writes the music, his career takes off, and together with Ira, who now writes lyrics, George composes a series of hit shows. After George writes "Blue Monday Blues," a song derived from Negro spirituals, which is not well received, conductor Paul Whiteman asks him to compose a serious piece based on the blues for a jazz concert he is planning, The result is Rhapsody ... +


When young brothers George and Ira Gershwin are growing up on New York City's Lower East Side, their mother Rose saves enough money to buy a piano, so that Ira, the eldest, can take lessons. George becomes the student, however, when he demonstrates his natural musical abilities. Under the instruction of Professor Frank, George becomes progressively better at the piano. He first obtains a job as a pianist in a vaudeville theater and then in a music store, but his dream is to become a composer. One day singer Julie Adams comes into the store looking for music to use in an audition. George plays "Swanee," one of his own compositions, for her, but when his boss hears him, he loses his job. Later, George is offered a two-year contract at Harms, another music publisher, and Max Dreyfus, the company head, sells "Swanee" to Al Jolson, who makes it a hit. Despite Frank's warning against squandering his talents on popular music, George takes a job writing songs for the Broadway show Half Past Eight , starring Julie, but the show fails. After the success of George White's Scandals of 1921 , for which George writes the music, his career takes off, and together with Ira, who now writes lyrics, George composes a series of hit shows. After George writes "Blue Monday Blues," a song derived from Negro spirituals, which is not well received, conductor Paul Whiteman asks him to compose a serious piece based on the blues for a jazz concert he is planning, The result is Rhapsody in Blue , and upon hearing his prize pupil's composition being performed for a radio broadcast, Professor Frank dies. Later, when Walter Damrosch of the New York Symphony commissions a concerto from him, George goes to Paris to begin a serious study of music. There he meets wealthy painter Christine Gilbert, who introduces him to Maurice Ravel and other composers. The slightly older Christine and George return to the United States, causing a jealous Julie a great deal of pain. Realizing that George is more in love with his music than with her, Christine leaves George and, after composing another Broadway show, George returns to Paris and completes his concerto. George's father dies of leukemia after advising his son that he was wrong to separate from Julie. While living in Los Angeles, George begins to compose frantically. He wins a Pulitzer prize for the musical Of Thee I Sing and writes Porgy and Bess , an opera featuring black performers. Later, George experiences numbness and headaches. After he collapses during a rehearsal, Julie plans to come to California immediately. In New York, George's friend, Oscar Levant, then performs George's Concerto in F to great acclaim, but the occasion is saddened by the announcement of the composer's untimely death. +

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

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