Put down that horn, jazz man… I’m in the mood for love! -Tagline on the movie poster
A lonely/orphan boy in LA, Rick Martin, learns he has a gift for music and falls in love w/ the trumpet. A talented Black trumpeter, Art Hazzard (Juano Hernandez), takes the boy under his wing and teaches him ALL he knows. The issues of identity and race come up in this story, as it’s focus is on a white man playing (traditionally) Black music; the undercurrent of racism (against the Black artists) is present also. The adult Rick (Kirk Douglas) struggles for a time, as his volatile personality and desire to play jazz (rather than standard dance tunes) land him in trouble. Soon, he becomes a star trumpeter featured in a NYC band and makes good money. Rick meets a young socialite studying to be a psychiatrist, Amy North (Lauren Bacall). In the novel by Dorothy Baker (upon which this film is loosely based) the characters of piano player/Rick’s best pal, Willie “Smoke” Willoughby (Hoagy Carmichael), and the singer, Jo Jordan (Doris Day), were African-American.
Rick: I don’t play for people. I play for myself!
Art: Look, boy, a man’s got a lot of living to do in this world. But, you, you’re kind of locked up inside yourself. You’re like a – like bird trying to fly on one wing. You’ll stay up for awhile. Then you’re going to fall.
Douglas’ trumpet licks were performed by Harry James, who also taught Douglas the correct fingering of the instrument. Carmichael was a friend of the real-life jazz musician, Bix Beiderbecke, and helped Douglas w/ his role. Carmichael received a thank-you letter from the director, Michael Curtiz, for his valuable input in several areas of production. Carmichael co-starred previously in Bacall’s 1st film, To Have and Have Not (1944). This was only the 4th film for Day; Curtiz was impressed enough w/ her work to recommend that Warner Bros. consider casting her in a dramatic role. Day gets to sing 3 popular standards, With A Song In My Heart, The Very Thought of You, and Too Marvelous for Words.
Amy: People try to find security in a lot of strange ways. You seem to have solved your problems – at least while you’re playing that trumpet.
Rick: I don’t understand a word you’re saying, but I love the sound of your voice. It’s got a wonderful rough spot in it.
Douglas and Bacall were close friends; they’d gone to drama school together (and have great onscreen chemistry). Bacall recommended Douglas to director Lewis Milestone; he got his first movie role in the noir classic- The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946). One viewer commented that this was the rare movie where Bacall played “a bad girl.” Rick is socially isolated, yet content w/ his life, as long as he has his horn/music. Jo is interested in him, though he is oblivious. Later, Jo introduces Rick to Amy; he doesn’t understand a LOT of what she’s saying, BUT is intrigued. Amy treats Rick V coldly after they’re married. The film contains a reference to homosexuality, although the Hays Code required any mention to be subtle. Amy is a lesbian; she leaves Rick to go to Europe w/ an artist (a woman). Decades later, Bacall told TCM that the reference was so subtle, and being was young/naive, she didn’t understand this until years later! If you like this story, you may want to check out Paris Blues and ‘Mo Better Blues.
 The directing from Michael Curtiz is as you would expect very tight to the drama, and the photography from Ted McCord captures the smoke filled nature of jazz clubs perfectly. The acting from the cast principals is never less than above average. […] The music of course is excellent, and as long as one is prepared for the melodramatic turn of events, this is a very rewarding piece.
 …the cinematography in this black & white film was amazing–very, very artistic and just beautiful. It reminded me a lot of Film Noir combined with the sensibilities of Ansel Adams.
 …film’s outstanding support performance comes from Juano Hernandez who runs the emotional gamut from confidante and advisor to dependent and admirer with his usual dignity and assurance.
-Excerpts from IMDb reviews