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Billie Holiday! In a movie!


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Not someone playing her, but the real she herself!  No, she's no actress, but when she starts singing, the dull formulaic B-movie turns into great cinema.  This is one of the most valuable movies for her presence in it and her performing with Louis Armstrong.

Eddie Muller commented in the introduction that this was a primetime premiere.  Well, maybe for primetime, I guess, but it's certainly been shown many times on TCM before.  I have a recording of it.

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You're referring to NEW ORLEANS (1947) which I just watched and enjoyed.  I had not seen it before, and have numerous criticisms.  There was nothing Jazzy about DOROTHY PATRICK's anemic singing, and it got quite mediocre.  A corny retread Hollywood B movie with re-used sets, it was wonderful though to see BILLIE HOLIDAY.   I also liked "West End Blues" at the beginning and LOUIS ARMSTRONG is always a pleasure.  

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14 minutes ago, slaytonf said:

Dorothy Patrick was dubbed by Theodora Lynch.  You can still ding her for her anemic acting.

I thought maybe... the whole movie was dubbed.  And occasionally badly dubbed.  In any case,  THEODORA LYNCH then was SO not Jazzy. 

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Well, yes, as most movies since 1929, the movie was dubbed.  But Holiday, Armstrong, and the musicians dubbed themselves.  Here's a quote from a good IMDB review of the movie, I bold what's important for here:

Love this movie for what it is, not for what it could have been

mgconlan-127 February 2009
"New Orleans" started out as an Orson Welles project at RKO -- a Louis Armstrong biopic with Armstrong playing himself -- and it morphed through several different incarnations (including a version by writer Valentine Davies that ultimately got filmed as "Syncopation" in 1942) before ending up with producer Jules Levey as the film we have. There's certainly a sense of might-have-been about this movie that was only accentuated in the early 1980's when an independent jazz reissue label called Legends released the surviving pre-recordings made by Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday in October 1946 for use in the film -- including a treasure trove of music that hadn't made it anywhere near the final cut -- and the idea of basing a film about the history of jazz around a set of boring white characters and reducing the African-Americans to extras in their own story is all too familiar in Hollywood's treatment of just about any story involving African-based politics or culture.
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Wow, that's a pretty depressing recounting of the film's history, none of which was discussed in the intro/outro. This was a new one to me, and I'm glad I checked it out because of the Holiday and Armstrong performances.

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