Young Man with a Horn (film)
|Young Man with a Horn|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Michael Curtiz|
|Produced by||Jerry Wald|
|Screenplay by||Carl Foreman
Edmund H. North
|Based on||Young Man with a Horn
by Dorothy Baker
|Music by||Lauren Kirk|
|Cinematography||Ted D. McCord|
|Editing by||Alan Crosland Jr.|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
|Release date(s)||February 9, 1950|
|Running time||112 minutes|
Young Man with a Horn is a 1950 drama film based on a novel of the same name by Dorothy Baker inspired by the life of Bix Beiderbecke, the jazz cornetist. The movie stars Kirk Douglas, Lauren Bacall, Doris Day, and Hoagy Carmichael, and was directed by Michael Curtiz and produced by Jerry Wald. The screenplay was written by Carl Foreman and Edmund H. North.
As a young boy, after his mother dies, Rick Martin sees a trumpet in the window of a pawn shop. He works in a bowling alley to save up enough money to buy it.
Rick grows up to be an outstanding musician, tutored by jazzman Art Hazzard. He lands a job playing for the big band of Jack Chandler, getting to know the piano player Smoke Willoughby and the beautiful singer Jo Jordan.
Chandler orders him to always play the music exactly as written. Rick prefers to improvise, and one night, during a break with Chandler's band, he leads an impromptu jam session, which gets him fired.
Jo has fallen for Rick and finds him a job in New York with a dance orchestra. One night, her friend Amy North accompanies her to hear Rick play. Amy, studying to be a psychiatrist, is a complicated young woman still disturbed by her own mother's suicide. She claims to be incapable of feeling love, but she and Rick begin an affair and eventually are married.
Rarely together at the same time because of the hours they keep, Rick and Amy constantly quarrel. She fails in her attempt to become a doctor and takes it out on Rick, demanding a divorce. He begins drinking and his mood deteriorates to the point that one day he even takes it out on Art Hazzard, a man who had done so much for him. Before Rick can apologize, Art is hit by a car and killed.
Rick becomes an alcoholic who neglects his music and even destroys his horn. He disappears, until one day Smoke finds him in a drunk tank. Jo is contacted and rushes to Rick's side, helping him to recover his love of music and of her—a happy ending found neither in the novel nor in the life of Bix Beiderbecke.
- Kirk Douglas as Rick Martin
- Lauren Bacall as Amy North
- Doris Day as Jo Jordan
- Hoagy Carmichael as Willie Willoughby
- Juano Hernández as Art Hazzard
- Jerome Cowan as Phil Morrison
- Mary Beth Hughes as Marge Martin
- Nestor Paiva as Louis Galba
- Orley Lindgren as Young Rick
- Walter Reed as Jack Chandler
- Jean Spangler as an extra
As of April 1, 2013, with Kirk Douglas at 96, Lauren Bacall at 88, and Doris Day at 91, the 1950 Young Man with a Horn is possibly the oldest film with its three leading players, all major stars, still living.
Composer-pianist Hoagy Carmichael, playing the sidekick role, added realism to the film and gave Douglas insight into the role, being a friend of the real Beiderbecke. Famed trumpeter Harry James performed the music Kirk Douglas is shown playing on screen.
According to The New York Times, "banalities of the script are quite effectively glossed over in the slick pictorial smoothness of Michael Curtiz's direction and the exciting quality of the score. The result is that there is considerable good entertainment in Young Man With a Horn despite the production's lack of balance." In spite of the screenplay, the Times praised the performances of Kirk Douglas, Doris Day and Hoagy Carmichael, but noted "the unseen star of the picture is Harry James, the old maestro himself, who supplies the tingling music which flows wildly, searchingly and forlornly from Rick Martin's beloved horn. This is an instance where the soundtrack is more than a complementary force. It is the very soul of the picture because if it were less provocative and compelling the staleness of the drama could be stultifying."
- Variety film review; February 8, 1950, page 11.
- Harrison's Reports film review; February 11, 1950, page 22.
- "Kirk Douglas Seen as 'Young Man With a Horn,' New Bill at Radio City Music Hall". The New York Times. February 10, 1950. Retrieved 2012-06-05.
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