Rhapsody in blue

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German title Rhapsody in blue
Original title Rhapsody in Blue
Country of production United States
original language English
Publishing year 1945
length 147 minutes
Age rating FSK 16
Director Irving rapper
script Howard Koch
Clifford Odets
Elliot Paul
production Jesse L. Lasky
camera Merritt B. Gerstad
Ernest Haller
Sol Polito
cut Folmar Blangsted

Rhapsody in Blue is an American biopic from 1945 about the life of the composer George Gershwin . The script is based on the recordings of Sonya Levien .


The brothers George and Ira Gershwin grew up on the Lower East Side in New York. Her mother Rose saved enough money to buy a piano so the older one, Ira, can take piano lessons. George has musical talent too, but prefers to go to college. Here he is taught by Professor Frank. His piano playing just keeps getting better.

George takes a job as a pianist at a vaudeville theater, then in a music store. But his big dream is composing. One day when singer Julie Adams walks into the shop, George is playing one of his own compositions, Swanee , for her. But when his boss hears that he is playing his own pieces on the piano during his working hours, he fires him. George gets a two-year contract with Harms music publisher. Director Max Dreyfus sells Swanee to singer Al Jolson , who scores a hit with it.

Professor Frank warns George not to waste his mainstream music talent, but George accepts the offer. Writing songs with Julie Adams for the Broadway show Half Past Eight . The musical is not a success, but with George White's Scandals of 1921 he makes his breakthrough. Together with his brother Ira, who excels as a lyricist, George composes a number of hits. With Blue Monday Blues , which is influenced by Spirituals, he causes controversy. The conductor Paul Whiteman asks him to write a blues piece for a jazz concert. The result is Rhapsody in Blue . When Professor Frank learns what his student is getting for this work, he dies.

Walter Damrosch of the New York Symphony Orchestra commissions a concert, whereupon George travels to Paris to continue his studies. Here he met the wealthy painter Christine Gilbert, who introduced him to the composer Maurice Ravel . George returns to the USA with the older Christine, which brings jealous Julie to despair. But Christine realizes that George loves music more than she does and leaves him. George travels to Paris again to complete the planned concert. George's father dies of leukemia and before he dies he blames him for breaking up with Julie.

In Los Angeles, George composes incessantly. He received the Pulitzer Prize for the musical Of Thee I Sing . He writes the opera Porgy and Bess , which is only cast with black actors. George's health suffers, he suffers weaknesses and is ravaged by headaches. When he breaks down during a rehearsal, Julie wants to come to Los Angeles immediately. Oscar Levant will perform the Concerto in F in New York . The applause is enormous, but the performance ends in great sadness after the news of the composer's sudden death.


The lexicon of international film judges: "The biographically unreliable, sentimental and sometimes kitschy film has its advantages in the good capture of the time atmosphere and in brilliantly presented Gershwin music."

The film magazine Cinema sees the film as a "penny booklet story with great shows"

Bosley Crowther of the New York Times said the people who made the film were overwhelmed by the complex subject of the biography becoming an unclear and limping business.

Channel 4 compared the film to other biographies of popular musicians. The film offers everything: Polito's exact camera work, guest appearances, lavish arrangements and great songs. He offers everything, just not the truth.

Oscar Levant commented on the film, "Even the lies about Gershwin were being distorted." ( Even the lies about Gershwin were twisted. )


In 1946 orchestra leader Ray Heindorf and composer Max Steiner were nominated for an Oscar in the category of best film music (musical) and Nathan Levinson in the category of best sound .


The Warner Bros. production premiered on June 27, 1945 in New York. In Germany, the film first appeared in cinemas on April 28, 1948.

Paul Whiteman, Al Jolson, Oscar Levant, Hazel Scott and the journalist Elsa Maxwell make small appearances and play themselves. Soprano Anne Brown can be seen as Bess in a screening of Porgy and Bess .

Robert Alda, father of Alan Alda , began his screen career with this film. Herbert Rudley also made his film debut.

The film characters Julie Adams, Christine Gilbert and Professor Frank are pure inventions. Gershwin's real-life music teacher didn't die the night Rhapsody in Blue was performed .


The following songs by George Gershwin are played in the film:

Joan Leslie's vocals were dubbed by Sally Sweetland.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Rhapsody in blue. In: Lexicon of International Films . Film service , accessed March 2, 2017 .Template: LdiF / Maintenance / Access used 
  2. Cinema magazine
  3. Critique of the New York Times (Eng.)
  4. Review of Channel 4 (Eng.)
  5. Rhapsody in Blue at Turner Classic Movies (English)