Jazz in Film: Blues in the Night

Some of Americas greatest cultural icons hit DVD when Warner releases on July 22 four Jazz fan favorites. “Bird,” directed and produced by Oscar-winning director Clint Eastwood and starring Oscar winner Forest Whitaker, earned Clint Eastwood a Golden Globe for Best Director and took the Oscar for Best Sound in 1988. The “Bird” DVD will include a 6-track bonus CD.

“Round Midnight” stars another Oscar winning director, Martin Scorsese, and jazz legend Dexter Gordon who captured an Academy Award nomination as an African American expatriate musician in 1959 Paris. The superb musical score won Herbie Hancock an Oscar.

Also included are two new-to-DVD titles. Pete Kellys Blues starring Peggy Lee in her Oscar-nominated (Best Supporting Actress) portrayal of an inebriated songbird. Pete Kellys Blues has been digitally remastered for 16×9 anamorphic presentation in its 2.55:1 original aspect ratio, and has a new 5.1 Dolby digital soundtrack derived from the original 4-track theatrical mix.

Rounding out this group is “Blues in the Night,” starring actor-turned-directors Richard Whorf (TVs Beverly Hillbillies, Gunsmoke) and Elia Kazan (Best Director winner for “On the Waterfront” and “Gentlemans Agreement”). Included are special features, the Oscar-Nominated Musical Short Jammin the Blues and classic cartoons Kitty Kornered, My Favorite Duck and Swooner Crooner.

Bird (1988)

The year: 1946. The event: Oaklands Jazz at the Philharmonic. The music streaked into the unknown, daring listeners to grab hold and fly there, too. On stage was the creator of those new sounds: Charles Yardbird Parker. In the crowd was the 16-year-old who would someday bring Parkers extraordinary story to the screen: Clint Eastwood. Americans dont have any original art except Western movies and jazz, observes Eastwood. Movie fans, of course, know that few heroes sit as tall as Eastwood. Now the legendary American icon, whose Dirty Harry films have been praised for their jazz scores, ventures deeper into that other original American art.

Pete Kellys Blues (1955)

Jack Webb stars as a Kansas City jazz coronet player, and when he takes on a vicious gang lord (Edmond OBrien), the only thing faster than his famed deadpan delivery is the rapid-fire action. And the only thing more dynamic than the films Dixieland- and blues-infused musical score is its stellar cast. Janet Leigh is a gin-swilling heiress who moves in on Kellys heart; Lee Marvin and Martin Milner are Petes hot-headed sidemen who keep the tempo torrid; Andy Devine goes dramatic as an ice-cold cop; Ella Fitzgerald brings her inimitable jazz alchemy to Hard Hearted Hannah and Pete Kellys Blues. And Peggy Lee proves as masterful acting the blues as singing them, earning a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award nomination for her portrayal of a boozy songbird.

Special Features:
Soundtrack remastered in Dolby Digital 5.1
Oscar-nominated Shorts: Gadgets Galore and 24 Hour Alert
Classic cartoon: The Hole Idea
Theatrical trailer

Blues in the Night (1941)

Jigger Pines quintet is sockin em solid before hopping a boxcar to the next gig. Theres not much money in this life; but plenty of tumult involving a criminal (Lloyd Nolan), a songbird (Priscilla Lane), a siren (Betty Field) and those Blues in the Night. The famed title tune and other songs are by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer. Anatole Litvak (The Snake Pit) directs this work packed with future filmmakers. In addition to Whorf and Kazan, other contributors included Robert Rossen (The Hustler) and Don Siegel (Dirty Harry), who provides the films montages.

Special Features:

Oscar-nominated musical short: Jammin the Blues
Classic cartoons: Kitty Kornered, My Favorite Duck and Swooner Crooner
Theatrical trailer

Round Midnight (1986)

Bertrand Taverniers loving ode to jazz and its creators, set in 1950s Paris, stars real-life jazz legend Dexter Gordon as Dale Turner, an African American tenor saxophone player who is befriended by a Frenchman obsessed with his music. Gordon captured an Oscar nomination as the expatriate musician battling alcoholism. A supporting cast of real jazz musicians playing live music throughout the film gives Round Midnight an authentic feel of the Jazz scene of that time. Herbie Hancocks superb music score won an Oscar.

Street Date: July 22, 2008
Order Due Date: June 17, 2008

Bird
Catalog #: 1000036880 Color
Run Time: 161 minutes
R rated
SRP: $20.97

Pete Kellys BluesCatalog #: 1000035849ColorRun Time: 95 minutes
NRSRP: $19.97

Blues in the Night.
Catalog #: 1000035845B&W
Run Time: 87 minutes
NRSRP: $19.97

Round Midnight
Catalog #: 1000035871Color
Run Time: 132 minutes
R rated
SRP: $19.98