A Song Is Born (1948)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

This remake of 1941 Ball of Fire, features Danny Kaye as one of a few professors researching jazz origins, and Virginia Mayo as a vocalist hiding out from her gangster boyfriend. The musical numbers are performed by the orchestras of Tommy Dorsey, Louis Armstrong and Charlie Barnet.
Classics , Comedy , Musical & Performing Arts
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
RKO Radio Pictures


Susan George
as Cigarette Girl
Steve Cochran
as Tony Crow
Ludwig Stossel
as Prof. Traumer
Danny Kaye
as Professor Hobart Frisbee
Virginia Mayo
as Honey Swanson
Benny Goodman
as Professor Magenbruch
Howland Chamberlain
as Mr. Setter
Lane Chandler
as Policeman at Inn
Hugh Herbert
as Prof. Twingle
Mary Field
as Miss Totten
Charlie Barnet
as Himself
J. Edward Bromberg
as Dr. Elfini
Shirley Ballard
as Chorus Girl at Crow's Nest
Felix Bressart
as Prof. Gerkikoff
Esther Dale
as Miss Bragg
O.Z. Whitehead
as Prof. Oddly
Will Lee
as Waiter
Joseph Crehan
as District Attorney
William Haade
as Detective from D.A.'s Office
Peter Virgo
as Louis
Robert Dudley
as Justice of the Peace
Muni Seroff
as Waiter
Tommy Dorsey
as Himself
Joe Devlin
as Gangster
Martha Montgomery
as Chorus Girl at Crow's Nest
Ben Welden
as Monte
Mel Powell
as Himself
Louis Bellson
as Drummer
Irene Vernon
as Woman at Crow's Nest
Jack Gargan
as Stenotypist
Karen X. Gaylord
as Woman at Crow's Nest
Patricia Walker
as Photographer at Dorsey Club
Diana Mumby
as Chorus Girl at Crow's Nest
Marjorie Jackson
as Chorus Girl at Crow's Nest
Alice Wallace
as Woman at Dorsey Club
John Impolito
as Chef at the Dixieland
Donald Wilmot
as Messenger
Harry Babasin
as Bassist
Howland Chamberlin
as Mr. Setter
Norma Gentner
as Girl with Samba King
Alton Hendrickson
as Guitarist
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for A Song Is Born

All Critics (8) | Top Critics (1)

The whole picture, which is done in color (we don't know why), reflects the tedium resulting from the restriction of Mr. Kaye.

Full Review… | March 24, 2006
New York Times
Top Critic

Hawks told everyone he hated the film.

Full Review… | October 13, 2014
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

A dreary affair, sanding off the original's satirical edges.

Full Review… | December 16, 2013
The Dissolve

This comedy with jazz music is uneven, but it has rich production values and likable numbers.

Full Review… | July 7, 2010
Classic Film and Television

So-so musical based on the brillaint "Ball of Fire" -- see that one instead.

August 2, 2005
Movie Mom at Yahoo! Movies

Musical remake of Ball of Fire. Better than you'd think.

August 24, 2003
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

Audience Reviews for A Song Is Born


There's a lot of talent in this pallid redo of Ball of Fire but even with music and color added it doesn't come close to matching that film's charm. Virginia Mayo was a pleasant screen presence but Barbara Stanwyck she most definitely is not. On it's own terms an okay film but doesn't hold up to comparison to its source material.

jay nixon
jay nixon

Super Reviewer

I just got done seeing the film A Song is Born. Thanks Brennan for letting me barrow the film. It was one of my first musical films where I actually enjoyed the film for once. It had jazz, big band music, classical all within the same film. It had music as almost a nerd aspect and a gangster side within the same film. I enjoyed the music as well as the story. The best part, people were not singing at random parts of the film which seem unrealistic like most musicals. This is a film I would buy. This film had great musicians as well for example Louis Armstrong as well as many more. Another great thing about this film which I found unique for it's day is that African American's were not shown in their stereotypical role as a group of people who were not very bright but instead were very bright and smart and may not have known much about classical music but were very good at jazz music and were extremely talented at playing music.


snow white and the seven musical genius hermits. not only one of the best musicals ever made, but one of my favorite films of all time. virginia mayo shows us again why she was one of the most beautiful women of her time, and dany kaye puts in a stellar performance. the appearances and music of two of the greatest musicians of all time, benny goodman and sachmo, were excellent. each piece of music in this musical about the making of jazz was perfect, and the love story hit the mark. the opening sequence was fuzed with clever writing and great humor, and the film never slows down. one of the top five films of its decade which features some of the greatest films ever made.

danny d
danny d

Super Reviewer

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