Young Man with a Horn


1h 52m 1950
Young Man with a Horn

Brief Synopsis

A young trumpet player is torn between an honest singer and a manipulative heiress.

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Musical
Biography
Music
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Mar 11, 1950
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Young Man with a Horn by Dorothy Baker (New York, 1938).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 52m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
10,035ft

Synopsis

Musician Smoke Willoughby reminisces about his old friend, legendary trumpet player Rick Martin: After his mother dies when he is about nine, Rick moves in with his sister in California. One day, when she is out for the evening, Rick wanders into a mission church and is fascinated by the piano there. Having decided to take up some kind of instrument, Rick notices a trumpet in a pawn shop window and gets a job in a bowling alley to pay for it. Next to the bowling alley is an after-hours club, where Rick hears jazz for the first time. He is befriended by black trumpet player Art Hazzard, who gladly teaches his young apprentice what he knows. When Rick is older, he is able to find jobs playing for carnivals and dance marathons, but Art advises against pursuig a career as a musician, warning him that it is a hard life. Ignoring the advice of his friend, Rick follows Art to New York and there he gets a job playing trumpet for big band leader Jack Chandler and makes friends with Smoke and singer Jo Jordan. Chandler insists that Rick play the music exactly as written, but after he is finished for the night, Rick plays the jazz he loves at a small club. One night, Chandler fires Rick after he plays a jazzy number during a break, and despite Jo's efforts on his behalf, Rick refuses to go back when Chandler offers to rehire him. Later, Rick learns from Jo that Art has been sick and returns to New York. Jo gets him a job with another dance orchestra, where he becomes very popular, and after hours, he helps out Art at Louis Galba's nightclub. One night, Jo brings her friend Amy North to hear Rick play. Amy, who is studying to be a psychiatrist, blames her physician father for her mother's death by suicide and, as a result, believes that she is incapable of love. Nonetheless, Rick falls in love with her, and they are married. After their marriage, Rick and Amy are driven apart by his dedication to his music. Rick works at night and Amy goes to school in the daytime, so they seldom see each other. The situation grows steadily worse, and when Art comes looking for Rick because he hasn't been to Galba's in months, Rick lashes out at him. Later, a distraught Art is hit by a car. When he hears about the accident, Rick rushes to the hospital, but Art dies before they can be reconciled. Devastated, Rick returns home to learn that Amy has flunked her finals and wants a divorce. Rick's playing suffers, and he begins to drink heavily and finally collapses. After he recovers, he suggests to Smoke that they make their own records. Although Smoke is convinced that no one will buy them, he agrees to attempt it, but Rick is unable to complete a solo and in frustration, destroys his trumpet. Afterward, he disappears. After suffering an extended breakdown, Rick, who is ill with pneumonia, is taken by a taxi driver to a drunk tank. Smoke discovers his whereabouts and calls Jo and Amy. Amy does not come, but loyal Jo helps Rick recover. Now that he has discovered his heart, Rick is able to become a great musician.

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Musical
Biography
Music
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Mar 11, 1950
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Young Man with a Horn by Dorothy Baker (New York, 1938).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 52m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
10,035ft

Articles

Young Man With a Horn


The Warner Bros. musical drama Young Man With a Horn (1950), adapted from the novel by Dorothy Baker, was inspired by the life of Bix Beiderbecke, a cornet player who hit jazz-age heights before sinking into alcoholism and dying in 1931 at age 28. Kirk Douglas stars as Rick Martin, a tormented trumpeter who suffers through a disastrous marriage with neurotic socialite Lauren Bacall before being redeemed by the love of "good girl" Doris Day. Michael Curtiz (Casablanca, 1943) directed a cast that also includes Hoagy Carmichael, who actually knew Beiderbecke, and Juano Hernandez as Rick's jazz mentor.

Under the musical direction of Ray Heindorf, the film has an outstanding jazz/pop score. Day warbles standards including "With a Song in My Heart" and "Too Marvelous for Words," while Harry James provides the hot licks mimed by Douglas on trumpet for "The Man I Love," "Ain't She Sweet" and several other tunes. James (again mimed by Douglas) and Day team up for "The Very Thought of You," and Carmichael joins in on some numbers including "Limehouse Blues."

Ironically, Douglas and Bacall (friends from their early years in New York City) got on famously, while Day and Douglas would each write later that they found the other remote. Douglas had this to say about Day: "That face that she shows the world - smiling, only talking good, happy, tuned into God - as far as I'm concerned, that's just a mask. I haven't a clue as to what's underneath." Day, in turn, wrote that, "Kirk was civil to me and that's about all. But then Kirk never makes much of an effort toward anyone else. He's pretty wrapped up in himself...Young Man With a Horn was one of the few joyless experiences I had in films."

Director: Michael Curtiz
Producer: Jerry Wald
Screenplay: Carl Foreman, Edmund H. North, from the novel by Dorothy Baker
Art Direction: Edward Carrere
Costume Design: Milo Anderson
Cinematography: Ted McCord
Editing: Alan Crosland Jr.
Original Music: Max Steiner (uncredited)
Cast: Kirk Douglas (Rick Martin), Lauren Bacall (Amy North), Doris Day (Jo Jordan), Hoagy Carmichael (Smoke Willoughby), Juano Hernandez (Art Hazzard), Jerome Cowan (Phil Morrison), Mary Beth Hughes (Marge Martin).
BW-113m.

by Roger Fristoe
Young Man With A Horn

Young Man With a Horn

The Warner Bros. musical drama Young Man With a Horn (1950), adapted from the novel by Dorothy Baker, was inspired by the life of Bix Beiderbecke, a cornet player who hit jazz-age heights before sinking into alcoholism and dying in 1931 at age 28. Kirk Douglas stars as Rick Martin, a tormented trumpeter who suffers through a disastrous marriage with neurotic socialite Lauren Bacall before being redeemed by the love of "good girl" Doris Day. Michael Curtiz (Casablanca, 1943) directed a cast that also includes Hoagy Carmichael, who actually knew Beiderbecke, and Juano Hernandez as Rick's jazz mentor. Under the musical direction of Ray Heindorf, the film has an outstanding jazz/pop score. Day warbles standards including "With a Song in My Heart" and "Too Marvelous for Words," while Harry James provides the hot licks mimed by Douglas on trumpet for "The Man I Love," "Ain't She Sweet" and several other tunes. James (again mimed by Douglas) and Day team up for "The Very Thought of You," and Carmichael joins in on some numbers including "Limehouse Blues." Ironically, Douglas and Bacall (friends from their early years in New York City) got on famously, while Day and Douglas would each write later that they found the other remote. Douglas had this to say about Day: "That face that she shows the world - smiling, only talking good, happy, tuned into God - as far as I'm concerned, that's just a mask. I haven't a clue as to what's underneath." Day, in turn, wrote that, "Kirk was civil to me and that's about all. But then Kirk never makes much of an effort toward anyone else. He's pretty wrapped up in himself...Young Man With a Horn was one of the few joyless experiences I had in films." Director: Michael Curtiz Producer: Jerry Wald Screenplay: Carl Foreman, Edmund H. North, from the novel by Dorothy Baker Art Direction: Edward Carrere Costume Design: Milo Anderson Cinematography: Ted McCord Editing: Alan Crosland Jr. Original Music: Max Steiner (uncredited) Cast: Kirk Douglas (Rick Martin), Lauren Bacall (Amy North), Doris Day (Jo Jordan), Hoagy Carmichael (Smoke Willoughby), Juano Hernandez (Art Hazzard), Jerome Cowan (Phil Morrison), Mary Beth Hughes (Marge Martin). BW-113m. by Roger Fristoe

Quotes

You can call me Amy.
- Amy
I bet I can.
- Rick
I don't understand a word you're saying, but I love the sound of your voice.
- Rick Martin
Can I lend you some money?
- Jo Jordan
Wouldn't know what to do with it.
- Rick Martin

Trivia

'Douglas, Kirk' ' trumpet licks were performed by Harry James (I).

Notes

According to reviews, this film is loosely based on the life of cornet player Bix Beiderbecke, a renowned jazz musician of the 1920s and 1930s. Beiderbecke first learned to play the piano before taking up the cornet at fourteen. In the 1920s, he played with The Wolverines, and later joined Paul Whiteman's band. Beiderbecke drank heavily and in late 1929, he left Whiteman's band permanently and returned to Davenport to convalesce. He died in 1931, at the age of twenty-eight, from lobar pneumonia and edema of the brain. According to a news item in Hollywood Reporter on October 10, 1941, Producer Benjamin Glazer's next production was to be an adaptation of Dorothy Baker's best-selling novel on Beiderbecke, with a screenplay to be written by himself and Theodore Reed. Reed was said to be set to direct the project, which was being offered to various studios. It has not been determined at what point Glazer and Reed's participation in the project ended.
       According to contemporary sources, Warner Bros. studio musician Larry Sullivan coached Kirk Douglas so that his trumpet playing would look realistic on screen. Harry James played Douglas' trumpet solos offscreen, and Jimmy Zito dubbed those of Juano Hernandez. According to publicity material, several well-known jazz musicians of the day, including Bumps Meyers, George Washington, Oscar Bradley, Rocky Robinson and Zutty Singleton performed in the film's background bands. Scenes were filmed on location at the Aragon Ballroom in Ocean Park, the ballroom of the Beverly-Wilshire Hotel, a Skid Row midnight mission and a black church in East Los Angeles, according to publicity material. Some background scenes were filmed in New York City. Contemporary reviews noted that James's commercial sound was out of character for a supposedly avant garde jazz musician like "Rick Martin."

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Spring March 11, 1950

Released in United States Spring March 11, 1950