Blues in the Night


1h 28m 1941
Blues in the Night

Brief Synopsis

The members of a traveling jazz band try to keep their leader from drinking himself to death.

Film Details

Also Known As
Hot Nocturne, New Orleans Blues
Genre
Drama
Musical
Adaptation
Release Date
Nov 15, 1941
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play Hot Nocturne by Edwin Gilbert (unproduced).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 28m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7,875ft

Synopsis

Pianist Jigger Pine organizes a quintet consisting of drummer Peppi, clarinet player Nickie Haroyan, bass player Pete Bassett and trumpeter Leo Powell, which is dedicated to playing jazz and blues. Together with Leo's wife Character, a singer, the group plays throughout the South, hitchhiking and hopping trains to get around. Along the way, Character becomes pregnant, but refuses to tell Leo because she is afraid that he will leave her. One day, a man named Del Davis rides in the same railroad car and steals the band's meager funds. When they do not turn him in to the authorities, Davis, an escaped convict, offers to give them a job at the New Jersey roadhouse that he owns. Also at the roadhouse are Davis' former accomplices, Sam Paryas, crippled Brad Ames and sultry Kay Grant. The three are not happy to see Davis, whom they set up to take the blame for their crimes. Working well together, the band soon draws a lively crowd to the roadhouse. Hoping to make Davis jealous, Kay flirts with Leo, and Jigger begs her not to break up the band. Kay ignores Jigger, but when Leo learns he is to be a father, he happily devotes himself to Character. Kay then transfers her attentions to Jigger, who tries to resist her, but when a doctor tells Character that she must stop singing until after the baby is born, Jigger suggests that Kay take her place. Despite the protests of the band, Jigger works hard to improve Kay's singing. When she finally rebels, Jigger tells her that he loves her. Brad overhears and advises Jigger to keep away from Kay, adding that his own love for Kay resulted in the accident that crippled him. When Kay tries to win Davis back by revealing Sam's plan to turn him in to the police, he kills Sam and orders Kay to leave. Despite his loyalty to the band, Jigger takes a job playing piano for a more traditional band and leaves with Kay. Jigger longs to return, but when he begs Kay to come with him, she laughs at him, saying that she has always been in love with Davis. The rejected Jigger goes on a drunken binge and is eventually found by his friends, who bring him back to the roadhouse to recover. Shortly afterward, Kay also returns to beg Davis to take her back. When he refuses, Kay angrily threatens to turn him in, forcing Davis to pull a gun on her. Jigger rushes to Kay's defense, and in the struggle, Davis drops the gun, which Kay then uses to kill him. Jigger is about to leave with Kay, but the band members intercede, telling him that the stress of the last separation caused Character to lose her baby. Not wanting Jigger to ruin his life, Brad drives Kay over a cliff, killing them both. Together again, the band goes back on the road.

Videos

Movie Clip

Blues In The Night (1941) - Hang On To Your Lids! Travel montage to jazz band in a freight car, Priscilla Lane (as "Character"), Elia Kazan (the future famous director) on clarinet, Jack Carson on trumpet, Richard Whorf (also later a prominent director) on guitar, with Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer's "Hang On To Your Lids," from Blues In The Night, 1941.
Blues In The Night (1941) - It Got Too Hot Vampy Kay (Betty Field) negotiating with escaped convict and ex-gang boss Del (Lloyd Nolan) then trampling on her lackey semi-boyfriend Brad (Wallace Ford) in a grim scene from Anatole Litvak's Blues In The Night, 1941.
Blues In The Night (1941) - Here's Your Butt Opening scene from Anatole Litvak's nutty Blues In The Night, 1941, with future major directors Elia Kazan (as "Nickie") and Richard Whorf (as "Jigger") and Bowery Boy Billy Halop (as "Peppi").
Blues In The Night (1941) - The Dream's On Me Priscilla Lane (as "Character") performing the Harold Arlen-Johnny Mercer standard "The Dream's On Me" leading into drama featuring Richard Whorf, Howard Da Silva and Wallace Ford, in Blues In The Night, 1941.
Blues In The Night (1941) - Jimmie Lunceford Jigger (Richard Whorf) and the gang exhort Leo (Jack Carson) to show off his chops in a dinner club being blown down by the real Jimmie Lunceford and his band in Anatole Litvak's Blues In The Night, 1941.
Blues in the Night - Opening Credits Opening credits hardly suggest what's in store in Anatole Litvak's musical-crime-romance-comedy Blues in the Night, 1941, starring Priscilla Lane, Jack Carson, Elia Kazan and Richard Whorf.

Trailer

Film Details

Also Known As
Hot Nocturne, New Orleans Blues
Genre
Drama
Musical
Adaptation
Release Date
Nov 15, 1941
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play Hot Nocturne by Edwin Gilbert (unproduced).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 28m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7,875ft

Award Nominations

Best Song

1941

Articles

Blues in the Night


Among the films released by Warner Brothers in 1941, Blues in the Night was a bit of an anomaly. The story of some gifted itinerant jazz musicians and a female vocalist (Priscilla Lane) searching for their big break amidst an endless series of one-night stands, the movie is actually a pastiche of several movie genres. It's a musical; the Harold Arlen-Johnny Mercer score includes "This Time the Dream's on Me" and the haunting title song plus Jimmy Lunceford and his Band appear in one sequence. It's a drama; the various band members, all displaying different temperaments from the manic-depressive bandleader (Jack Carson) to the free spirited clarinettist (Elia Kazan), often clash while touring on the road. It's a film noir; an escaped convict joins the band and his relationship with femme fatale Kay Grant (Betty Field) spells doom for the group, paving the way for a tragic climax. Most importantly, however, Blues in the Night is unique for featuring two future directors in supporting roles. Elia Kazan, cast as the clarinet player Nicky, would, of course, go on to direct acclaimed films like A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) and East of Eden (1955). Richard Whorf (in the role of Jigger), on the other hand, specialized in light entertainments like Till the Clouds Roll By (1946) and Champagne for Caesar (1950).

For Kazan, Blues in the Night would prove to be his final film as an actor. He had previously played the heavy in a James Cagney drama, City for Conquest (1940), directed by Anatole Litvak, and although he received good notices for his performance, his career soon took a different path. In his autobiography, A Life, Kazan recalled that "when City for Conquest opened, the review that generally passed as the industry's judgment on the movie and the people who'd made it appeared in the Hollywood Reporter. Arthur Kennedy and I, as newcomers, were praised, but a distinction was drawn. After predicting a great future for Arthur, the Reporter's critic had written: 'However, Elia Kazan, having equally as much ability, because of his looks will present a casting problem.' I had a different final judgment; it was: "I sure as hell can direct better than Anatole Litvak." Kazan's confident attitude was confirmed by working with Litvak yet again on Blues in the Night: "Warners had bought a play I'd owned for a while, then given up on. It was about a jazz band and the conflicts among its members. I hadn't been able to get up the money for a production, so the author and I decided to sell it. Litvak, who knew nothing about this kind of music, was going to direct it. I suppose he was looking for another "real American" subject to shake off the label "European director." He'd offered me the part of the clarinet player, but I hadn't been anxious to work with him again, so had delayed my response. The house in the country decided me. The job would bring us the money we needed, and it would give me a chance, alone in California, to clear my head."

Kazan would live to regret his decision for in his autobiography, he later wrote, "Acting," an old critic said, "is a lamp placed in the soul of man so we can see who we are and who we wish we are." Not that summer, not on the Litvak set. When Blues in the Night comes on the late-late show, I advise you to skip it....I decided that summer that I'd never act again. And I never did." Yet despite, Kazan's harsh opinion of the film, Blues in the Night is a consistently fascinating melodrama with a schizophrenic personality; it's jarring combination of soap opera and musical numbers is enhanced by occasional sharp dialogue by screenwriter Robert Rossen and moody black and white cinematography by the great Ernest Haller (an Oscar winner for Gone With the Wind, 1939). Then there's that unforgettable title song which was nominated for an Oscar and proved to be so successful that the film's title was changed from Hot Nocturne to Blues in the Night just prior to its theatrical release.

Producer: Henry Blanke
Director: Anatole Litvak
Screenplay: Edwin Gilbert, Robert Rossen
Art Direction: Max Parker
Cinematography: Ernest Haller
Editing: Owen Marks
Music: Heinz Roemheld, Harold Arlen, Johnny Mercer
Cast: Priscilla Lane (Ginger Powell), Betty Field (Kay Grant), Richard Whorf (Jigger Pine), Lloyd Nolan (Del Davis), Jack Carson (Leo Powell), Wallace Ford (Brad Ames), Elia Kazan (Nickie Haroyan.
BW-88m.Closed captioning.

by Jeff Stafford
Blues In The Night

Blues in the Night

Among the films released by Warner Brothers in 1941, Blues in the Night was a bit of an anomaly. The story of some gifted itinerant jazz musicians and a female vocalist (Priscilla Lane) searching for their big break amidst an endless series of one-night stands, the movie is actually a pastiche of several movie genres. It's a musical; the Harold Arlen-Johnny Mercer score includes "This Time the Dream's on Me" and the haunting title song plus Jimmy Lunceford and his Band appear in one sequence. It's a drama; the various band members, all displaying different temperaments from the manic-depressive bandleader (Jack Carson) to the free spirited clarinettist (Elia Kazan), often clash while touring on the road. It's a film noir; an escaped convict joins the band and his relationship with femme fatale Kay Grant (Betty Field) spells doom for the group, paving the way for a tragic climax. Most importantly, however, Blues in the Night is unique for featuring two future directors in supporting roles. Elia Kazan, cast as the clarinet player Nicky, would, of course, go on to direct acclaimed films like A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) and East of Eden (1955). Richard Whorf (in the role of Jigger), on the other hand, specialized in light entertainments like Till the Clouds Roll By (1946) and Champagne for Caesar (1950). For Kazan, Blues in the Night would prove to be his final film as an actor. He had previously played the heavy in a James Cagney drama, City for Conquest (1940), directed by Anatole Litvak, and although he received good notices for his performance, his career soon took a different path. In his autobiography, A Life, Kazan recalled that "when City for Conquest opened, the review that generally passed as the industry's judgment on the movie and the people who'd made it appeared in the Hollywood Reporter. Arthur Kennedy and I, as newcomers, were praised, but a distinction was drawn. After predicting a great future for Arthur, the Reporter's critic had written: 'However, Elia Kazan, having equally as much ability, because of his looks will present a casting problem.' I had a different final judgment; it was: "I sure as hell can direct better than Anatole Litvak." Kazan's confident attitude was confirmed by working with Litvak yet again on Blues in the Night: "Warners had bought a play I'd owned for a while, then given up on. It was about a jazz band and the conflicts among its members. I hadn't been able to get up the money for a production, so the author and I decided to sell it. Litvak, who knew nothing about this kind of music, was going to direct it. I suppose he was looking for another "real American" subject to shake off the label "European director." He'd offered me the part of the clarinet player, but I hadn't been anxious to work with him again, so had delayed my response. The house in the country decided me. The job would bring us the money we needed, and it would give me a chance, alone in California, to clear my head." Kazan would live to regret his decision for in his autobiography, he later wrote, "Acting," an old critic said, "is a lamp placed in the soul of man so we can see who we are and who we wish we are." Not that summer, not on the Litvak set. When Blues in the Night comes on the late-late show, I advise you to skip it....I decided that summer that I'd never act again. And I never did." Yet despite, Kazan's harsh opinion of the film, Blues in the Night is a consistently fascinating melodrama with a schizophrenic personality; it's jarring combination of soap opera and musical numbers is enhanced by occasional sharp dialogue by screenwriter Robert Rossen and moody black and white cinematography by the great Ernest Haller (an Oscar winner for Gone With the Wind, 1939). Then there's that unforgettable title song which was nominated for an Oscar and proved to be so successful that the film's title was changed from Hot Nocturne to Blues in the Night just prior to its theatrical release. Producer: Henry Blanke Director: Anatole Litvak Screenplay: Edwin Gilbert, Robert Rossen Art Direction: Max Parker Cinematography: Ernest Haller Editing: Owen Marks Music: Heinz Roemheld, Harold Arlen, Johnny Mercer Cast: Priscilla Lane (Ginger Powell), Betty Field (Kay Grant), Richard Whorf (Jigger Pine), Lloyd Nolan (Del Davis), Jack Carson (Leo Powell), Wallace Ford (Brad Ames), Elia Kazan (Nickie Haroyan. BW-88m.Closed captioning. by Jeff Stafford

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

According to contracts included in the file on the film at USC Cinema-Television Library, Elia Kazan collaborated with Edwin Gilbert on the play, but for reasons that were not made clear in the file, agreed to have his name removed from the credits. The film's working titles were Hot Nocturne and New Orleans Blues. News items in Hollywood Reporter note that the film was originally to star James Cagney and that Dennis Morgan was considered as his replacement. Richard Whorf then replaced John Garfield in the lead. Johnny Mercer received an Academy Award nomination for their song "Blues in the Night."