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A Song is Born (1948)

Danny Kaye , Virginia Mayo  |  NR |  DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Danny Kaye, Virginia Mayo, Louis Bellson, Benny Goodman, Sidney Blackmer
  • Format: Color, Dubbed, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Dubbed: French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
  • DVD Release Date: April 7, 2009
  • Run Time: 113 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #98,085 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

A musical remake of the 1941 Gary Cooper comedy Ball Of Fire - an amusing spin on Snow White and the Seven Dwarves - where 7 professors working on a dictionary of "slang" adopt an authority on the subject, burlesque dancer Sugarpuss O'Shea who's hiding out from the law. In the remake, Danny Kaye stars as the leader of a group of scholars working on an encyclopedia of music, but are stuck on the subject of "swing," when nightclub singer Honey Swanson (Virgina Mayo) takes up refuge in their house in order to hide out from her gangster boyfriend and the cops. Also stars Benny Goodman, Louis Armstrong, Charlie Barnet, Tommy Dorsey, Lionel Hampton and other luminaries of the time.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
57 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Musical Remake of "Ball of Fire"! January 29, 2009
This is a great movie. It is a re-make of the classic Cooper/Stanwyck movie "Ball of Fire" with Danny Kaye and Virginia Mayo in the lead roles. Before you ask why a re-make was needed, let me say that this is a remake with a twist. The encyclopedia of "Ball of Fire" is now a musical encylclopedia. In addition to getting the expected comedy from Kaye and chemistry between Kaye and Mayo, you also get Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman and others performing some great music. If you like the first version or if you like Danny Kaye or both, don't pass this one up.
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34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Second time's a charm (too) April 27, 2009
"A Song Is Born"
(MGM, 1948)
An excellent 1948 remake, by director Howard Hawks, of Howard Hawks' excellent 1941 comedy, "Ball of Fire," in which a group of fusty, out-of-touch professors are taken in by a tough-talking, vivacious modern gal who shows them a thing or two about the fast-talking modern world.

Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck starred in the original; here, their parts are played by Danny Kaye and Virginia Mayo, and instead of the gal being a burlesque girl, here she's a nightclub singer. This is handy because in 1948, the perfessers are interested in jazz music, and through diligent work they pull in an amazing all-star band of some of the hottest musicians of the big band era: Louis Armstrong, Charlie Barnett, Tommy Dorsey, Lionel Hampton, Mel Powell, The Golden Gate Quartet and a slew of others. Benny Goodman is doubly delicious in his role as a clarinet-toting fuddy-duddy professor who cuts loose when he's exposed to swing.

As remakes go, this is a remarkably durable film. The original is one of my favorite screwball comedies, but this version is also pretty fun, and the musical numbers are not to be missed. Danny Kaye is more believable as a nervous, repressed ivory tower academic, although a great deal of the charm of the original was the casting against type of the virile he-man movie idol Gary Cooper. It's Stanwyck who is really missed here, but Mayo does fine. (Besides, if I want to see Stanwyck, I'll just go back to the original...) All in all, this is a funny, funky film, with some great, hot musical interludes. Definitely worth checking out! (Joe Sixpack, Slipcue film review blog)
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars TERRIFIC FUN. December 4, 2002
Format:VHS Tape
Immensely enjoyable. Kaye plays Professor Hobart Frisbee, one of seven monastic intellectuals who reside at the American division of the Totten Foundation. Frisbee meets a pair of hip window washers who tell him all about jazz, jive and boogie woogie. Beautiful Virginia Mayo is Honey Swanson, a singer hiding out from her gangster boyfriend Steve Cochran (she's also trying to keep away from the DA who wants to testify against Cochran) In the original, Barbara Stanwyck played a stripper, who taught the boys the ropes about English slang circa 1941. Here, the plot is basically the same, but the Professor wants to learn all about Popular American music, 1948 style. Some purists will not like this version as much as the original, but the Technicolor is gorgeous, and so is Virginia Mayo! Her rendition of DADDY-O is sexy and hot. The film will be a huge treat for fans of the Big Band Era. Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, Louis Armstrong, Lionel Hampton and Charlie Barnet are all cleverly showcased and their music is awesome! Swing music was rapidly dying out by 1948, but numbers such as STEALIN' APPLES, FLYING HOME, I'M GETTIN' SENTIMENTAL OVER YOU & MUSKRAT RAMBLE are timeless perennial favourites for fans to relish. A direct remake of BALL OF FIRE with Barbara Stanwyck and Gary Cooper, this movie was also made almost entirely by the same technicians, oddly enough.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible World Class, All Star Film December 6, 2001
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
This musical remake of "Ball of Fire" is great to watch and listen to. I do not know anywhere else that so many world class musicians have gotten together to not only perform, but act as well. Kaye and Mayo are incredible, giving better performances than Cooper and Stanwyck in the original. The direction and editting is crisp and clean. Subtle site gags are sprinkled thru out. The detail is marvelous and a homage to the American music of the day. When I saw this movie Danny Kaye became one of my favorite actors. If and when this comes out on DVD I will be getting it.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars one of the best April 15, 2009
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I'm blown away that this film took so long to get a good DVD treatment. One of the best musicals I've ever seen.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great movie for Danny Kaye buffs May 19, 2010
Danny Kaye plays a stodgy and reclusive music professor who is working with a group of similar doddering oldsters who are attempting to catalog the roots of music from the ancient past to the present, but due to their ivory tower studies, they've missed the big band, bebop, rag and jazz sensations that were sweeping the nation in the early part of the 20th century. Virginia Mayo is the moll of a local gangster who needs a hideout to lay low in and stumbles on the mansion where the musical research and recording is going on, meets Danny and his long-hair group, and exposes them to these modern rhythms, changing the direction of their work considerably.

The music performances are terrific and don't bog the flow of the movie. The comedy is typical Danny Kaye and delightful without getting too silly. The improbable love story between Kaye and Mayo actually works and is cute. This is an unusual case where the remake is better than the original movie.

A treat is that big band leader and clarinetist Benny Goodman appears as one of the professors, and provides a quite acceptable performance both as a book-wormish scholar, and as a musician who discovers he's got jazz chops he didn't know he had.

Mayo plays her usual voluptuous self, the glamorous and sophisticated showgirl on the lam.

This is a classic light movie that showcases some great musical talent and is very entertaining. Highly recommended.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars ... musical copy-cat of Ball of fire is not as good, but it's not bad
This musical copy-cat of Ball of fire is not as good, but it's not bad. Compare the two and see what you think
Published 3 months ago by Stephen E. Lightell
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
love this movie;love Danny Kaye films. thank you--Joanne
Published 3 months ago by J D Hall
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow!
If you love Danny Kaye's energy and goofy innocence, big band music, swing, jazz, old gospel hymns, and a movie that entertains throughout - this is an excellent movie. Read more
Published 5 months ago by S. Mullis
5.0 out of 5 stars Danny Kaye
You can't go wrong with a Danny Kaye movie and this was a good quality dvd. I will be looking for others like this.
Published 9 months ago by dana oshiro
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Job!
The product was exactly as the seller described. It arrived in a timely manner. I'd bought this as a birthday gift for my best friend and she was absolutely thrilled with it! Read more
Published 12 months ago by Cynthia L. Williams
1.0 out of 5 stars Not Playable!
The DVD was in a foreign language and wouldn't play in my DVD player and therefore I sent it back!
Published 16 months ago by Dewey Brignone
5.0 out of 5 stars Must See
Typical Danny Kaye greatness. Not only did it showcase many great stars from that era, but it was entertaining and fun, while staying true to the original movie it spun off from... Read more
Published 20 months ago by Gina Marie Heritage
5.0 out of 5 stars DVD - A Song is Born
Wonderful old, favorite movie, brought back great memories. All the music, hysterical comedy, and superior acting reminded me of rarer times! Read more
Published 24 months ago by Sweetie Puss
5.0 out of 5 stars A True Genius!!!
An Enchanting Dynamic performer! An Actor's Actor. Danny Kaye could do Absolutely Everything! There will never be another one like Him!!!
Published on July 3, 2012 by Les Schunk
4.0 out of 5 stars A sweet romantic comedy with some swing jazz performed by top artists
"A Song Is Born" is a leisurely but sweet romantic comedy with some swing jazz performed by top artists, such as Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, and Tommy Dorsey. Read more
Published on January 16, 2012 by Tycereom
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