(1948)4Craig ButlerThere was really no need for Howard Hawks, director of the brilliant comedy Ball of Fire to remake the film as the musical A Song is Born, but if he had to participate in this remake, he should have insisted on making the two feel like much more individual films. Granted, there are some changes, such as making the professors' project one on swing rather than slang; but these are cosmetic, and keeping so much of the dialogue and even the sets from the original only emphasizes their similarities, making Song come up short. However, if one can forget Ball of Fire and just concentrate on Song, there's plenty to recommend it. Much of the dialogue is as witty and laugh-inducing as ever, and while Virginia Mayo simply can't equal Ball's Barbara Stanwyck, she's still an incredibly tasty dish and a lot of fun to be around. It's also interesting, if a bit odd, to see Danny Kaye in a more subdued mood and to watch him be more or less a straight man rather than a manic instigator of mirth. Best of all, however, is the gathering of some truly legendary jazz performers here who are given amply room to swing and jive; when Benny Goodman or Louis Armstrong or Tommy Dorsey get going, Song becomes a glorious, splendiferous piece of melodious amusement.