Dark Passages: The Films of Humphrey Bogart & Lauren Bacall

Young Man with a Horn

Michael CurtizUSA112 minutes1950GB&WEnglish

Sep 2
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    Film noir meets musical in this engrossing drama inspired by the life of jazz cornetist Bix Beiderbecke. Kirk Douglas plays Rick Martin, who buys a trumpet from a pawn shop, joins a big band, and finally moves to New York to start his own dance orchestra; Lauren Bacall is elegance itself as Rick's paramour and eventual wife Amy North, a neurotic heiress and class-conscious patron of the arts dealing with the demons of her mother's suicide. Their marriage descends into recrimination and strife, especially after Rick begins to drink to forget his troubles. On the cusp of superstardom, Doris Day plays vocalist Jo Jordan, who is in love with Rick but gives him up for her friend Amy. (In the source novel Amy is coded as lesbian, which the film manages to signal despite any such suggestion being forbidden by the Production Code.) The exciting music score is by Harry James, and Hoagy Carmichael — a friend of Beiderbecke's and Bacall's co-star in To Have and Have Not — brings a jolt of authenticity to the film as Rick's sidekick.