Birth of the Blues (1941) As a child, Jeff Lambert (Bing Crosby) hangs out in New Orleans' Basin Street, playing hot swing on his clarinet instead of the classics his father prefers. He's Inspired by an African-American group there and some years later, at the turn of the century, sets out to form a jazz band of his own. With cornetist Memphis (Brian Donlevy), singer Betty Lou Cobb (Mary Martin) and trombonist Jack Teagarden (Of the Original Dixieland Jazz Group, after which the story is patterned), he's on his way. A veritable history of jazz follows. From jump and jive to sweet romanticism, half a century of popular hits is given spectacular treatment. "By the Light of the Silvery Moon" is sung in a theatre with lantern slides on the screen. Singer Ruby Elzy's "St. Louis Blues" is backed by a chorus of eighty. And "Wait Till The Sun Shines, Nellie" brings Crosby and Martin together in a knockout duet.
Blue Skies (1946) Dancing star Jed Potter (Fred Astaire) is a popular radio personality who was once a famous dancer. He also used to be friends with Johnny Adams (Bing Crosby) until they became rivals for the affections of Mary O'Hara (Joan Caulfield). Jed lost out when Johnny and Mary got married, but life hasn't been too rosy for the couple since; Johnny's career in business was a washout, and not long after the birth of their daughter, the couple decided to divorce. Mary gave Jed another chance with her, but in time she chose to patch things up with Johnny, leading Jed to a close partnership with alcohol that ended with an accident, preventing him from ever dancing again. However, the aftermath of this tragedy helps bring the three former friends back together.