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"Blues in the Night"


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One of the unsung (no pun intended) musical dramas of 1941 was the Anatole Litvak film, BLUES IN THE NIGHT, starring the underrated Priscilla Lane (who does a very nice job on "This Time the Dream's on Me"), Betty Field (doing a variation on her trampy-but-tragic victim in OF MICE AND MEN), and Richard Whorf. One of the "musicians" "chewing scenery," incidentally, is future director Elia Kazan. This musical features the fine Johnny Mercer title song, interpretations by the Jimmy Lunceford orchestra, and a fine Lloyd Nolan performance, as the gangster-on-the-run who becomes close to the musicians. I wish that it were out on DVD (it never appeared on video).

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I do love the Harold Arlen score for this film. Unfortunately, much of the songs are thrown away. When I wrote Priscilla Lane in the early 90s I told her how much I liked the film and her song performance of "This Time the Dream's On Me." I always found the film to be offbeat but it should have been a much better film. At the same time I sent Lane some movie stills to autograph and I wasn't sure she would return them signed (since I heard she didn't always respond to fan mail), but I was happy she did return and sign these photos.

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