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USA 1947
Directed by
Arthur Lubin
89 minutes
Rated G

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

New Orleans

Although originally intended as a serious film about the birth of jazz, New Orleans, directed by Arthur Lubin from a screenplay by Elliot Paul and Dick Irving Hyland based on a story by Paul and Herbert Biberman, got hijacked by its creaky romance storyline. Jazz fans will however not care as the film features extensive performances by Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday in her only feature film appearance.  

The story concerns the star-crossed romance between a young society debutante Miralee Smith (Dorothy Patrick) who falls for a Storyville gambling joint owner, Nick Duquesne (Arturo de Cordova), which leads to the infamous area being closed down. She gets taken to Europe by her mother Mrs. Rutledge Smith (Irene Rich) while Nick sets up in Chicago becoming the first “jass” entrepreneur eventually taking the hot new music to nationwide popularity (and, of course, winning the blues-lovin’ Miralee's heart)

Forget about the hokey narrative and enjoy Louis Armstrong and His Original New Orleans Ragtime Band which includes, amongst others, Kid Orr\y, Barney Bigard, Red Callander and Meade Lux Lewis as the film takes us to the seedy dives of Basin Street to hear ragtime in full flight before finally achieving legitimacy as jazz with a concert spectacular at Carnegie Hall in New York in a black-white hybrid performance of “Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans” sung by Miralee who originally learned the song from her black maid (Holiday).

Although it takes the Woody Herman Orchestra to sell the song to a white audience there are some tip-top Armstrong numbers including "New Orleans Stomp", "Buddy Bolden's Blues", "West End Blues", "Shim-Me-Sha-Wabble", "Basin Street Blues" and a duet between Armstrong and Holiday, "The Blues Are Brewin”. Hot diggetty dog!




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