Monday, March 5, 2012

Pete Kelly's Blues (1955).

Pete Kelly's Blues(1955). Directed by and starred Jack Webb. Janet Leigh, Peggy Lee, had a chance to really act and act she did in Pete Kelly's Blues earning her an Oscar nomination and many fans... This is one of the few times we get to see her in her heyday, beautiful, young and talented... Other cast members include, Rose Hopkins and Ella Fitzgerald, who makes a cameo as singer Maggie Jackson.

Lee Marvin, Martin Milner and a very young Jayne Mansfield also make early career appearances in minor roles.

Pete Kelly and his Big Seven Band, spend their evenings playing in a Kansas City, Missouri speakeasy. Things are going well for the band, until racketeer Fran McCarg, decides to take over the band and extort them for twenty-five percent of their earnings. Pete and his band, refuses to give into the mobster. Pete's closest friend, clarinetist Al Gannaway, predicts that McCarg will kill one of them.

Their next job is to play at a private party held by rich girl, Ivy Conrad, who is the daughter of a well known family. Pete, is not impressed by her behavior, but agrees to dance with her. When she grabs at his horn to get his attention, he lets her fall into the swimming pool. Meanwhile, McCarg phones the mansion to talk to Pete, but a drunken Joey takes the call and gives him a piece of his mind.

Later, while driving home, the band is run off the road by McCarg's men and Joey is thrown through the windshield. He quickly recovers, but Pete and Al know that their troubles have just begun.

Al, who has had enough of the violence, decides to leave the band. When Pete learns that Joey has had a fight with one of McCarg's men, Pete tries to try to smooth things over.

McCarg bursts into the speakeasy around two in the morning and Pete takes Joey out the back exit, but gunshots blast from a car at the alley entrance and kills Joey.

Later, Pete finds Ivy sleeping in his bed. He tries to send her home, but she refuses and he gives into her charms.

The band leaders meet to discuss putting their money together to buy protection. Thinking they do not stand a chance, Pete tells them that he plans to pay McCarg.

After being warned by singer Maggie Jackson, that a policeman, is looking for him, Pete is stopped by detective George Tenell. The cop wants Pete's help in building a case against McCarg. Back at the speakeasy, where the band is rehearsing, Pete tells McCarg they "have a deal". Despite the difference between the band's style and Rose's, bluesy singing, McCarg forces them to perform together.

One night, when the drunken Rose is ignored by a rowdy crowd, she can not finish her song. McCarg beats her up, as his thugs hold off Pete. Later, Pete learns that Rose suffered serious head injuries and has been admitted to a state asylum.

Angry, Pete accuses McCarg of Joey's murder and tries to quit, but when McCarg threatens him, Pete changes his mind.

Pete postpones his marriage to Ivy, who is broken hearted and breaks it off with him. Because he and Tenell think they can get to McCarg through Bettenhauser. Unfortunately, he ends up missing, Pete then visits Rose at the asylum. Even though, she is barly functioning, she is able to tell him that Bettenhauser is hiding out in Coffeeville, Kansas.

Tenell, contacts the Coffeeville police, and as they wait for them, Bettenhauser has Maggie ask Pete to meet her roadhouse. There, Bettenhauser tells Pete that McCarg ordered Joey's death. For $1,200, Bettenhauser offers to provide documents and cancelled checks that will prove McCarg's guilt. Bettenhauser, then tells him the documents are stored in the ballroom office. Al wants to go with Pete, who knocks him out to keep him from getting hurt.

Ivy wants to dance with him and asks to make up, but in the timing is bad.
Meanwhile McCarg, Bettenhauser and another thug enter and surround them. Pete and Ivy take cover behind tables during the shoot-out. How will Ivy and Pete get out of this alive?

Fun Fact:

Jack Webb actually knew how to play the cornet. He loved jazz music and, as a boy, was given a cornet by a musician who lived near his home. While he never truly mastered the instrument he knew it well enough that his handling and fingering of the cornet in this movie is accurate.

Would you ever think you would see this group of actors in the same movie.? Is it a musical or is it a film noir? Only you can decide.:) Lee Marvin, is amazing good in his small supporting role.. I just love him.. I would give this fast moving film a....B+

Peggy Lee (May 26, 1920 – January 21, 2002) was an  jazz singer, songwriter, composer, and actress in a career spanning six decades. From her beginning as a vocalist on local radio to singing with Benny Goodman's big band, she forged a sophisticated persona, evolving into a multi-faceted artist and performer. She wrote music for films, acted, and created conceptual record albums—encompassing poetry, jazz, chamber pop, and art songs.Lee starred and sang in the hit films The Jazz Singer, Disney's Lady and the Tramp, and Pete Kelly's Blues, for which she received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

In 1952 Lee played opposite Danny Thomas in a remake of the early Al Jolson film, The Jazz Singer. In 1955 she played an alcoholic blues singer in Pete Kelly's Blues, for which she received an Academy Awards nomination. In 1955 Lee did the speaking and singing voices for several characters in Disney's Lady and the Tramp movie: she played the human "Darling" (in the first part of the movie), the dog "Peg", and the two Siamese cats "Si" and "Am". In 1957 Lee guest starred on the short-lived ABC variety program, The Guy Mitchell Show.

In the early 1990s she retained famed entertainment attorney Neil Papiano to sue Disney for royalties on Lady and the Tramp. Lee's lawsuit claimed that she was due royalties for video tapes, a technology that did not exist when she agreed to write and perform for Disney. Her lawsuit was successful.

Never afraid to fight for what she believed in, Lee passionately insisted that musicians be equitably compensated for their work. Although she realized litigation had taken a toll on her health, Lee often quoted Ralph Waldo Emerson on the topic: "God will not have his work be made manifest by cowards."

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for mentioning this film! I probably never would've considered watching it, but I had no idea that Peggy Lee was actually in it (or Ella Fitzgerald!) - I love listening to Lee, but the chance to see her onscreen is a rare one. I'll definitely have to keep an eye out for this now.