A Song Is Born

A Song Is Born (also known as That's Life)[4] is a 1948 Technicolor musical film remake of the 1941 movie Ball of Fire with Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck, starring Danny Kaye and Virginia Mayo. It was directed by Howard Hawks. Based on the Story "From A to Z" by Billy Wilder and Thomas Monroe. Produced by Samuel Goldwyn and released by RKO Radio Pictures.

Filmed in Technicolor, it featured a stellar supporting cast of musical legends, including Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman (with Al Hendrickson as cameo), Louis Armstrong, Lionel Hampton, and Benny Carter. Other notable musicians playing themselves in the cast include Charlie Barnet (with Harry Babasin as cameo), Mel Powell, Louis Bellson, The Golden Gate Quartet, Russo and the Samba Kings, The Page Cavanaugh Trio, and Buck and Bubbles. Other actors include Steve Cochran and Hugh Herbert.

A Song Is Born
A Song is Born poster
Theatrical release poster
Directed byHoward Hawks
Produced bySamuel Goldwyn
Written byBilly Wilder
Thomas Monroe
StarringDanny Kaye
Virginia Mayo
Benny Goodman
Tommy Dorsey
Louis Armstrong
Lionel Hampton
Charlie Barnet
Mel Powell
Steve Cochran
CinematographyGregg Toland
Edited byDaniel Mandell
Distributed byRKO Radio Pictures
Release date
  • October 19, 1948 (Premiere-New York City)[1]
  • November 6, 1948 (U.S.)[1]
Running time
113 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$2.3 million[2]
Box office$2.4 million (US rentals)[3]


Mild-mannered Professor Hobart Frisbee (Danny Kaye) and his fellow academics, among them Professor Magenbruch (Benny Goodman), are writing a musical encyclopedia. In the process, they discover that there is some new popular music that is called jazz, swing, boogie woogie or bebop, introduced to them by two window washers Buck and Bubbles. The professors become entangled in the problems of nightclub singer Honey Swanson (Virginia Mayo). She needs a place to hide out from the police, who want to question her about her gangster boyfriend Tony Crow (Steve Cochran). She invites herself into their sheltered household, over Frisbee's objections. While there, she introduces them to the latest in jazz, with which they are unfamiliar, giving the film an excuse to feature many of the best musicians of the era. The songs they play include "A Song Is Born", "Daddy-O", "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You", "Flying Home", and "Redskin Rumba".

Eventually, Tony comes by to collect Honey, but by that time, she and Hobart have fallen in love. And the finale, of course, is not decided by guns but by music, its resonance and reverberation.




Kaye's personal writer/composer, Sylvia Fine, who also happened to be Kaye's wife, refused to take part in any more of his projects because Kaye had recently left her for actress Eve Arden. Kaye didn't want anyone else writing songs for him, so he simply did not perform any songs in the film.[5][6]

Hawks had almost no interest in the film, and only came to work on it because of the $250,000 paycheck. When speaking of the film, he said "Danny Kaye had separated from his wife, and he was a basket case, stopping work to see a psychiatrist [every] day. He was about as funny as a crutch. I never thought anything in that picture was funny. It was an altogether horrible experience."[5]


A Song Is Born was the number one film in the country from the time of its release until November 1948, while Hawks's other film (and in his opinion, best) Red River, was second.[5] However, A Song Is Born never broke even, only earning about $2.2 million, while Red River went on to gross $4.1 million.[6] It was shown on American Movie Classics, hosted by Nick Clooney, and has been released on home video in both VHS and DVD formats.[7]


  1. ^ a b "A Song is Born: Detail View". American Film Institute. Retrieved May 10, 2014.
  2. ^ Variety (4 February 2018). "Variety (February 1948)". New York, NY: Variety Publishing Company – via Internet Archive.
  3. ^ "Top Grossers of 1948", Variety 5 January 1949 p 46
  4. ^ A Song Is Born at the TCM Movie Database
  5. ^ a b c "A Song Is Born". Tcm.com. 1948-09-29. Retrieved 2012-09-08.
  6. ^ a b Nobody's Fool: The Lives of Danny Kaye. Martin Gottfried. Simon and Schuster, 1994, ISBN 0-7432-4476-1
  7. ^ "A Song is Born: Danny Kaye, Virginia Mayo, Louis Bellson, Benny Goodman, Sidney Blackmer, Felix Bressart, J. Edward Bromberg, Buck and Bubbles, Howland Chamberlain, Lane Chandler, Ben Chasen, Steve Cochran, Joseph Crehan, Esther Dale, Joe Devlin, Tommy Dorsey, Robert Dudley, Jack Gargan, Karen X. Gaylord, The Golden Gate Quartet: Movies & TV". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2012-09-08.

External links

A Song Is Born (song)

"A Song Is Born" was a collaboration between Ayumi Hamasaki and Keiko (Globe) for the Song Nation non-profit project by Avex, which was created to raise funds to help the victims of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. The song was composed by Tetsuya Komuro, but unlike the other two single releases of the project, "The Meaning of Peace" (a duet between BoA and Kumi Koda) and "Lovin' It" (a duet between Namie Amuro and Verbal of M-Flo), the lyrics were written by Ayumi Hamasaki. Hamasaki went on to record a solo version on this song, which appeared on her fourth studio album, I am....

Ayumi Hamasaki

Ayumi Hamasaki (浜崎あゆみ, Hamasaki Ayumi, born October 2, 1978) is a Japanese singer, songwriter, record producer, actress, model, spokesperson and entrepreneur. Through her entire career, she has written almost all her lyrical content, and has sometimes composed her music.

Born and raised in Fukuoka, Hamasaki moved to Tokyo at fourteen in 1993 to pursue a career in singing and acting. In 1998, under the tutelage of Avex CEO Max Matsuura, Hamasaki released her debut single "Poker Face" and debut major-label album A Song for XX. The album debuted at the top of the Oricon charts and remained there for five weeks, selling over a million copies. Her next ten albums shipped over a million copies in Japan, with her third, Duty, selling nearly three million. A Best, her first compilation album, is her best-selling album, with more than four million copies sold in Japan. Since 2006, after her album Secret was released, album and single sales have declined.Hamasaki has sold over 50 million records, making her the best-selling Japanese solo artist of all time. Hamasaki has several domestic record achievements for her singles, such as the most number-one hits by a female artist (38); the most consecutive number-one hits by a solo artist (twenty-five), and the most million-sellers. From 1999 to 2010, Hamasaki had at least two singles each year topping the charts. Hamasaki is the first female recording artist to have ten studio albums since her debut to top the Oricon and the first artist to have a number-one album for 13 consecutive years since her debut. Hamasaki's second remix album, Super Eurobeat Presents Ayu-ro Mix, is recognized as one of the best selling remix albums of all time and remains her only album to be recognized in a worldwide accreditation.During the height of her career, Hamasaki has been dubbed as the "Empress of J-pop" because of her popularity in Japan and Asia. Following an ear infection in 2000, she has suffered worsening hearing loss and is completely deaf in one ear.

Ayumi Hamasaki Power of Music 2011 A

Ayumi Hamasaki Power of Music 2011 A is Japanese pop singer Ayumi Hamasaki's 13th Tour. Tour started on May 7, 2011 at Hiroshima Green Arena, continued as 'FINAL Chapter' started on September 30, 2011 at Osaka Castle Hall and ending as "Limited Edition" on October 18 and 19, 2011 at Saitama Super Arena. DVD released on March 21, 2012.

Ayumi Hamasaki Stadium Tour 2002 A

Ayumi Hamasaki Stadium Tour 2002 A DVD was released on January 29, 2003, the same day as Ayumi Hamasaki Arena Tour 2002 A was also released.

Ball of Fire

Ball of Fire is a 1941 American screwball comedy film directed by Howard Hawks and starring Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck. This Samuel Goldwyn Productions film (originally distributed by RKO) concerns a group of professors laboring to write an encyclopedia and their encounter with a nightclub performer who provides her own unique knowledge.

The supporting cast includes Oskar Homolka, S. Z. Sakall, Henry Travers, Richard Haydn, Dana Andrews, and Dan Duryea. In 1948, the plot was recycled for a musical film, A Song Is Born, this time starring Danny Kaye and Virginia Mayo. The film is also known as The Professor and the Burlesque Queen. In 2016, the film was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the United States Library of Congress, and selected for preservation in its National Film Registry.

Dearest (Ayumi Hamasaki song)

"Dearest" is a song by Japanese recording artist Ayumi Hamasaki, released as her 24th single on September 27, 2001.

Don Raye

Don Raye (born Donald MacRae Wilhoite, Jr., March 16, 1909 – January 29, 1985) was an American vaudevillian and songwriter, best known for his songs for The Andrews Sisters such as "Beat Me Daddy, Eight to the Bar", "The House of Blue Lights", "Just for a Thrill" and "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy." The latter was co-written with Hughie Prince.

While known for such wordy novelty numbers, he also wrote the lyrics to "You Don't Know What Love Is," a simple, poetic lament of unusual power. He also composed the song "(That Place) Down the Road a Piece," one of his boogie woogie songs, which has a medium bright boogie tempo. It was written for the Will Bradley Orchestra, who recorded it in 1940, but the song was destined to become a rock and roll standard, recorded by The Rolling Stones, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Foghat, Amos Milburn, Harry Gibson, and countless others. In 1940 he wrote the lyrics for the patriotic song "This Is My Country".

In 1985, Don Raye was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Dream On (Naoya Urata song)

"Dream On" is a song recorded by Japanese singer Naoya Urata of the band AAA. It features vocals from the singer-songwriter Ayumi Hamasaki. The song was released as a single on December 22, 2010. The song is Hamasaki's first collaboration since 2001's "A Song is Born" (with Keiko). Moreover, this is Hamasaki's 26th consecutive song to reach the summit and 39th number-one single overall.

George Shearing

Sir George Albert Shearing, OBE (13 August 1919 – 14 February 2011) was a British jazz pianist who for many years led a popular jazz group that recorded for Discovery Records, MGM Records and Capitol Records. The composer of over 300 titles, including the jazz standards "Lullaby of Birdland" and "Conception", and had multiple albums on the Billboard charts during the 1950s, 1960s, 1980s and 1990s. He died of heart failure in New York City, at the age of 91.

I Am... (Ayumi Hamasaki album)

I Am... (stylized as I am...) is the fourth studio album by Japanese recording artist Ayumi Hamasaki. It was released on New Years Day (January 1), 2002 via Avex Trax and their Taiwan-based headquarters. It was distributed in two physical formats—a standard CD and Playbutton—and for digital consumption. After the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York City, United States, Hamasaki, whom started working on her new project, changed the original music and design direction by emphazise lighter themes than her previous work. As a result, the record delves with hope, peace and love, superimposed on J-Pop-inspired rock music.

Upon its release, I Am... received favorable reviews from music critics. Many publications commended Hamasaki's musical direction and the commercial appeal, whilst some reviewers noted that some tracks were fillers. Commercially, it experienced huge success in Japan, reaching atop of the Oricon Albums Chart. It was certified triple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of Japan (RIAJ) for shipments of three million units.

In order to promote the album, nearly half of the songs from the record were released as singles; additionally, "M" and "Evolution" sold over one million copies in Japan. After its release, she commenced two concert tours within Japan; a tour and a tour, both of which experienced commercial success and spawned live DVD releases. Before I Am..., Hamasaki felt that she would not enter an Asian market; thus, she never performed outside Japan and did not use English in her lyrics. However, shortly after the release of the album, she performed at the 2002 MTV Asia Music Awards ceremony, her first performance held outside Japan.

Keiko (musician)

Keiko Komuro (小室 桂子, Komuro Keiko, née Yamada (山田) born August 18, 1972) is the lead vocalist of the pop group Globe. Since 2001 she has had a solo career, starting with the single "A Song Is Born" in collaboration with Ayumi Hamasaki. In late 2003, she released her first solo EP called KCO. Keiko, under the name KCO, released her first solo album O-Crazy Luv on Universal in 2008. The album contains a total of 11 tracks, including her first single under the new name, "Haru no Yuki" (Spring Snow).

Mattie Moss Clark

Mattie Moss Clark (born Mattie Juliet Moss; March 26, 1925 – September 22, 1994) was an American gospel choir director and the mother of The Clark Sisters, a world-renowned gospel vocal group. Clark is credited for creating the three-part harmony (separating vocal parts into soprano, alto and tenor), a technique which is prevalent among gospel choirs today.

My Story Classical

My Story Classical is a compilation with classical versions of songs from Ayumi Hamasaki's album My Story. My Story Classical was released on March 24, 2005. Most of the tracks were recorded with the Lamoureux Orchestra of France, which was conducted by Yutaka Sado.

Page Cavanaugh

Page Cavanaugh (January 26, 1922 in Cherokee, Kansas – December 19, 2008 in Los Angeles) was an American jazz and pop pianist, vocalist, and arranger.

He began on piano at age nine and played with Ernie Williamson's band in 1938–39 before moving to Los Angeles and joining the Bobby Sherwood band at age 20.While serving in the military during World War II, he met guitarist Al Viola and bassist Lloyd Pratt, with whom he formed a trio. After the war's end they performed together in the style of the Nat King Cole Trio, scoring a number of hits in the late 1940s, including "The Three Bears", "Walkin' My Baby Back Home", and "All of Me". The trio appeared in the films A Song Is Born, Big City, Lullaby of Broadway (with Doris Day) and Romance on the High Seas (Doris Day's first film, in 1948).In the early 1950s, Cavanaugh had a program, Page Pages You, on the short-lived Progressive Broadcasting System., Additionally, the trio played on Frank Sinatra's radio program, Songs by Sinatra, and on The Jack Paar Show.Cavanaugh played in Los Angeles nightclubs through the 1990s, both in a trio setting (with Viola for many years) and as a septet, the Page 7. He recorded with Bobby Woods & Les Deux Love Orchestra. He recorded for MGM, Capitol, RCA, Star Line, Tiara, and Dobre Records over the course of his career, releasing his final trio album, Return to Elegance, in 2006.Cavanaugh died on December 19, 2008, of kidney failure.

Samuel Goldwyn Productions

Samuel Goldwyn Productions was an American film production company founded by Samuel Goldwyn in 1923, and active through 1959. Personally controlled by Goldwyn and focused on production rather than distribution, the company developed into the most financially and critically successful independent production company in Hollywood's Golden Age.

As of 2012, the distribution rights of Samuel Goldwyn films from the library were transferred to Warner Bros., with Miramax managing global licensing, with the exception of The Hurricane, which is now back with its original distributor, United Artists.

Song Nation

Song Nation (originally known as Various Artists Featuring Song Nation) is a charity compilation album featuring some of the most important Japanese performers from the Avex Trax label. The CD was made to raise money for the September 11, 2001 attacks.

It was produced by two of the most important record producers of Japan: Masato "Max" Matsuura and Globe's Tetsuya Komuro. A remix album was released titled Song Nation 2: Trance. It contained an additional disc and additional tracks along with of the original tracks from the first Song Nation. A Song Is Born, the track by Ayumi Hamasaki and Keiko was able to peak at #1 on the Oricon chart. Upon its release, the album entered the Oricon Albums Chart at number one with first week sales of over 81 100 copies.

The Meaning of Peace

"The Meaning of Peace" (stylized as the meaning of peace) is a single by Japanese R&B singer-songwriter Koda Kumi and South Korean pop singer-songwriter BoA. The single debuted on Oricon and #12 and remained on the charts for twelve weeks.

Virginia Mayo

Virginia Mayo (born Virginia Clara Jones; November 30, 1920 – January 17, 2005) was an American actress and dancer. She was in a series of comedy films with Danny Kaye and was Warner Brothers' biggest box-office money-maker in the late 1940s. She also co-starred in the 1946 Oscar-winning movie The Best Years of Our Lives.

Films produced by Samuel Goldwyn

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