Young Man with a Horn

1950 jazzman movie

Rating: 14/20

Plot: "Horn" is, as you would probably expect, meant euphemistically. Young Man with a Horn is the story of pubescent Rick Martin's discovery of his "horn" and how a sage named Mr. Miyagi helps him learn how to wield it. He practices by himself over and over again, and then he uses it on both Doris Day and Lauren Bacall. Not bad, little Rick Martin! Not bad at all!

First off, look at that tagline at the top of the poster. "Put down your trumpet, Jazzman--I'm in the mood for love!" That's a good one. Young Man with a Horn is loosely based on the biography of jazzman Biz Biederbecke, but it's got a tidy little Hollywood ending. There's nothing particularly wrong with this movie. The performances are fine, the music is fine, the scenes in smoky nightclubs are really fine. But as a whole, this is so antiseptic, just so white bread. This movie needed a little zip or some zap or some pop. Or something. It's definitely a case where a movie loses steam as it goes on, especially since all it could build to was an ending that seemed like it was rewritten at the eleventh hour in order to please some studio execs. Kirk Douglas is really good, especially pulling off the virtuosic horn blower without being anywhere near a virtuosic horn blower, and the movie looks great. It just should have been a whole lot better.

1 comment:

cory said...

I have always really liked this one. I thought this was a very kinky character for Bacall, and nobody does outrage and anger like Douglas. It does get tidy and a little formulaic, but the music and Douglas' performance make this a 17 for me.