The folks at MGM have FINALLY released A SONG IS BORN on DVD
. This may, in fact, be my favorite Danny Kaye movie. Yes, maybe more beloved than THE COURT JESTER. It's a remake of the Billy Wilder flick BALL OF FIRE, which I haven't seen (though I love me some Wilder), with a twist: the Wilder movie hinges on slang, while the Kaye version hinges on jazz.
Here is the premise: seven learned professors, all but one bachelors (the one is a widower) shut themselves up in an awesome house for years in order to write the definitive multi-volume history of music. They are able to do this because they are milking the living shit out of a foundation grant. It's a good life, if a secluded one, and they're happy. And then one day the guys who wash their windows come in because they want some help with a music trivia contest on the radio, and during the ensuing session around the piano the professors discover that while they have been shut up in the house, they have *completely missed the jazz revolution.*
And so they send an emissary out into the world to discover jazz.
This emissary, of course, is Danny Kaye, and one of the people he recruits to help out is nightclub singer Virginia Mayo. She's also a gangster's moll, and when the police want her for questioning in a murder case, she decides to lay low by moving in with the professors. Which, as you'd expect, is rather disruptive to their comfortable routine, but it does allow for a love story to blossom between Mayo and Kaye. It's really terrific.
Incidentally, Mayo's not the only person who helps out. Oh, my, no. Danny Kaye recruits Louis Armstrong, Mel Powell, Tommy Dorsey, Lionel Hampton, the Page Cavanaugh Trio, Charlie Barnet -- oh, did I mention one of the professors is played by *Benny friggin' Goodman?* Great movie, with terrific music, and some really wonderful and touching scenes. It's one of my very favorite movies ever. Give it a watch; you will not be sorry.