New Orleans (1947 film)

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New Orleans
Theatrical release poster
Directed byArthur Lubin
Screenplay byElliot Paul
Dick Irving Hyland
Story byElliot Paul
Herbert J. Biberman
Produced byJules Levey
Herbert Biberman
StarringArturo de Córdova
Dorothy Patrick
Marjorie Lord
Billie Holiday
Louis Armstrong
Woody Herman
CinematographyLucien Andriot
Music byNat W. Finston
Woody Herman
Majestic Productions
Distributed byUnited Artists
Release date
  • April 18, 1947 (1947-04-18) (United States)
Running time
90 minutes
CountryUnited States

New Orleans is a 1947 American musical romance film starring Arturo de Córdova and Dorothy Patrick, and directed by Arthur Lubin.[1] Though it features a rather conventional plot, the film is noteworthy both for casting jazz legends Billie Holiday as a singing maid romantically involved with bandleader Louis Armstrong, and extensive playing of New Orleans-style Dixieland jazz: over twenty songs (or versions of songs) are featured in whole or part.

Armstrong's band contains a virtual Who's Who of classic jazz greats, including trombonist Kid Ory, drummer Zutty Singleton, clarinetist Barney Bigard, guitar player Bud Scott, bassist George "Red" Callender, pianist Charlie Beal, and pianist Meade Lux Lewis. Also performing in the film is cornetist Mutt Carey and bandleader Woody Herman.

New Orleans is Holiday's only feature film appearance.[2]


A Storyville casino owner and a high society opera singer fall in love during the birth of the blues in New Orleans.



New Orleans has its origins in an abandoned component of an unfinished RKO Pictures feature film by Orson Welles — "The Story of Jazz" segment of It's All True. A history of jazz alternatively titled "Jam Session", the section of the film was being written by Elliot Paul in 1941 under contract to Welles. The story of Louis Armstrong was to have been central to that segment of It's All True.[3]: 29, 282, 325 [4]: 138–139 

An additional connection to Welles is that several members of the film's Original New Orleans Ragtime Band — Kid Ory, Mutt Carey, Bud Scott, Barney Bigard and Zutty Singleton — had first been brought together in 1944, for his CBS Radio series, The Orson Welles Almanac.[4]: 138–139 

New Orleans is the only feature film made by singer Billie Holiday, and the last film in which writer-producer Herbert J. Biberman was involved before he was blacklisted.[2]

Producer Jules Levey wanted to make a film about the history of jazz.[5] Lubin signed to direct in July 1946.[6]

Levey's associate was Herbert Biberman who said "we're not archaeologists. We're trying to be accurate with dates and places, if not names – and still turn out an entertaining picture."[5]

In July 1946 Arthur Lubin was scouting for locations in New Orleans. He hoped to feature Lena Horne, Duke Ellington and other black musicians.[7] Ten days of location filming started on 28 August and cost $110,000.[8] The National Jazz Foundation collaborated with Lubin during filming.[9]

De Cordova was borrowed from Eagle-Lion Films in August.[10] Dorothy Patrick was borrowed from MGM.[11] Levey was so pleased with the performances of Patrick and de Cordova he wanted to reteam them in a film called Monterey to celebrate California's 100th anniversary, though the picture was never made.[12]


A 2019 review in Diabolique magazine stated, "it’s one of those movies where critics generally go “the music’s great but everything else is terrible and isn’t Hollywood racist” which is basically true – but it was 1947, what did people expect? At least there is a lot of music, Louis Armstrong and Dorothy Patrick are charming, it’s fascinating to see Holliday in a movie and I love how in the story her character marries Armstrong’s. Also Lubin seems to have genuine affection for the characters and the music – it’s much better than his previous three features."[13]

Home media[edit]


Although most of the music created for New Orleans was truncated in the film's release version,[15]: 117  a soundtrack issued in 1983 made the full versions of the songs available, with additional music cut from the final release.[2][16] Songs include "Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?"


Per AFI,[2] the tracklist is:


  1. ^ New Orleans Monthly Film Bulletin; London Vol. 15, Iss. 169, (Jan 1, 1948): 18.
  2. ^ a b c d "New Orleans". American Film Institute Catalog of Motion Pictures. Retrieved 2014-03-24.
  3. ^ Benamou, Catherine L., It's All True: Orson Welles's Pan-American Odyssey. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007 ISBN 978-0-520-24247-0
  4. ^ a b Stowe, David Ware, Swing Changes: Big-Band Jazz in New Deal America. Cambridge, Massachusetts [u.a.]: Harvard University Press, 1998, ISBN 9780674858268
  5. ^ a b Elusive Saga of Jazz May Be Found Here: New Orleans' Screens Real Story of How American Folk Music Developed Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times 27 Oct 1946: B1.
  6. ^ Comedy Snaring Roz; Culver Studio-Pacted Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times Calif]24 July 1946: A2.
  7. ^ Looking at Hollywood Hopper, Hedda. Chicago Daily Tribune 25 July 1946: 23.
  8. ^ 'AMBER' IN HOLLYWOOD: NOTED IN HOLLYWOOD Yes and No The Pay-Off By THOMAS F. BRADY. New York Times 3 Nov 1946: 65.
  9. ^ "Jules Levey Crew in new Orleans". 28 August 1946. p. 15. {{cite magazine}}: Cite magazine requires |magazine= (help)
  11. ^ Jane Greer Attains Dramatic Highroad Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 16 Sep 1946: A2.
  12. ^ Schallert, Edwin. "Paramount Recruits Television's Blossom" Los Angeles Times 10 Oct 1946: A3.
  13. ^ Vagg, Stephen (14 September 2019). "The Cinema of Arthur Lubin". Diabolique Magazine.
  14. ^ "New Orleans". Kino Lorber Home Video. Archived from the original on 2014-03-25. Retrieved 2014-03-24.
  15. ^ Bergan, Ronald, The United Artists Story. New York: Crown Publishers, Inc., 1986, ISBN 0-517-56100X
  16. ^ "New Orleans Original Motion Picture Soundtrack". Discogs. Retrieved 2014-03-24.

External links[edit]