Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Young Man With a Horn (1950)


“Crazy young man with a horn.”

            This post today is in honor of Lauren Bacall who passed away yesterday. She was one of the last remaining Old Hollywood stars left alive. I unfortunately cannot remember the first film I saw Bacall in but I remember I liked her immediately. I liked her voice, her poise, her walk, and her beauty but most of all I loved her attitude. It is that attitude, that confidence she put into her character that makes Bacall one of my favorite Old Hollywood actresses. Of the films I have seen her in I have admired and have yet to see her give a bad performance. In honor of her passing I have decided to watch Young Man with a Horn, a film of Lauren Bacall’s I have not seen.
            Being passionate about things in life is what makes us unique. We light up when we get the chance to discuss the things that make our hearts skip a beat and our minds race. Our passions give us purpose to move through life. If you have not guessed movies are biggest passion along with certain TV shows. All day long my mind is filled with my favorite movies and TV shows as I work my boring job of shelving and organizing library books. As soon as I come home from work I put a movie on or I obsess over them and TV shows on Tumblr for hours. I have been told by numerous people that they enjoy hearing me talk about movies because I become so animated and open up. I cannot picture what my life would be like without movies and my favorite TV shows. I can tell you that it would be less complicated and I would get real life things done more but movies are my passion they are my life.
            In the 1947 film Young Man with a Horn, the character of Rick Martin (Kirk Douglas) is a trumpet player. It is the only thing in his life he has ever cared about. When he was younger his parents died and he went to live with his older sister. Rick did not like school and would skip out. One day he was walking by a church when he heard people singing. He went and he watched the piano play. Since that day he would go to the church and teach himself the piano. One day his sister told him he better either go back to school or get a job. Rick got himself a job at a bowling alley that was right across from a nightclub. He heard the sound of a trumpet playing from the club. He would then head over and watch the trumpet player as he would play with the rest of the band.
            The trumpet player, Art Hazzard, took notice of Rick watching him and invited him into the club. After this faithful meeting, Art taught Rick how to play the trumpet and even bought him his own.
            There is nothing Rick loves more than playing his trumpet and he is really good at it. He gets a job playing with an orchestra at a dance hall. There Rick meets the piano Smokie (Hoagy Carmichael). He and Smokie hit it off well when they have a little jam session. Rick tries to play the trumpet the way he wants and not how the bandleader wants him but the bandleader yells at him to follow what everyone else wants to hear. Rick becomes close with the singer Jo Jordan (Doris Day). He wants to go out with her but she tells him that he is married to his trumpet she could never compete. The bandleader one daysteps out and gives control over to Smokie. Rick convinces Smokie to let them and a few other band members to have a jam session. The crowd likes it and the bandleader does not. Rick leaves the orchestra and Smokie goes with him.
            Rick and Smokie are not too successful traveling around playing wherever they can find jobs. At one place Rick gets insulted and humiliated and after Smokie decides to head back home to his family. Rick heads to New York City. In the city he finds Jo has become a successful nightclub singer and goes to see her. She tells him that Art is not doing too well but he is still playing in a club. Rick and Jo go to the club. Art has Rick come on stage to play something. The whole place likes him.
            Soon Rick becomes successful working with the orchestra. He also works at another club where Art works since Art is not doing too well. For one of the shows Jo brings her friend Amy (Lauren Bacall) around. Amy is a strange person from the get go. Her conversation style and attitude are bit odd. But that does not deter Rick from liking her. They begin to date and he stays with her even though she is a strange and cold person. Rick begins not to show up at one of the clubs anymore and everyone is worried. Jo comes by his apartment as he is packing everything up. She went there to warn Rick about Amy about how strange and messed up she is. Unfortunately it is too late, Rick and Amy got married.
            Married life does not work out the way either one of them wanted. Amy becomes a bit jealous of Rick and how he has something to be passionate about. She has lived her life going from one thing to the next and never finishing what she had started. Amy decides to go back to school to make something of herself. That does not go very well and she flunks. Rick cannot take Amy anymore with her mixed messages and her crazy emotions and spontaneous actions. She drives him to drink. Art comes to speak to him one day at one of the clubs. Rick just brushes him off and gets mad. While walking home after speaking to Rick, Art becomes disorientated and gets hit by a car. He does not make and his death blows up Rick’s world.
            Between Amy being all over the place and Art dead the world becomes too much for Rick. He drinks too much and drops out of sight for some time. He drinks to the point where he wanders around aimlessly and becomes sick.
            With all classic films this one also ends on a happy note. Rick, with help from Smokie and Jo, gets back on track and comes to love playing the trumpet again.

            Young Man with a Horn was not the best Lauren Bacall film I could have chosen to watch. It was alright and Bacall’s character is very odd and cold. You really do not like her at all from the moment she comes on screen to her last scene. I hate how it had to be a female that brings Rick to his lowest point and that Bacall had to be that woman. For what she was given to play Bacall did a very good job. It was definitely a different role than I am used to seeing her in. The rest of the cast was very good as well. Doris Day usually gets on my nerves but I actually liked her a lot in this. Kirk Douglas does not really do anything for me. He was not bad at all but he was not great. He felt very mismatched with Bacall and even Day. Young Man with a Horn was interesting because the main character had a tremendous amount of passion that eventually became one of his downfalls. Some people kept telling Rick to get another hobby or playing the trumpet will bring him down. I can only hope my other hobbies such as trolling Tumblr for hours on end, listening to music, or reading a books counters for me be obsessing over movies and TV shows. Other than the cast Young Man with a Horn is not really worth watching.