“When we finished filming High Society, Bing gave me a golden money clip inscribed ‘To Louie from Bing.’ And when he had a baby girl I sent him a telegram, ‘Now you have jazz.” – Louis Armstrong
High Society was a remake of the popular 1940 romantic comedy The Philadelphia Story, adapted from Philip Barry’s stage play of the same name. The 1940 film starred Cary Grant, and in the new version the role was taken over by Bing Crosby, Katharine Hepburn preceded Grace Kelly as the female lead and Frank Sinatra took the part that had won James Stewart an Oscar. Grace Kelly’s wedding plans called for a tight schedule and so filming began on 17 January 1956 and finished in early March.
Louis and Bing were in MGM’s studio recording on 6th January. ‘Now You Has Jazz’ that Louis and Bing recorded that day and featured in the film. ‘Now You Has Jazz’ made the US singles chart on 13 October 1956, entering the charts on at No.94 and peaking at No.88 during its four week run.
Pops appears as a kind of narrator, his performance being amongst the best in the film. While most consider the acting in the original to be way better, the remake achieved strong sales at the box office. High Society is different from many film musicals of the era in that there are no big production song and dance numbers. The musical interludes are low key, complimenting rather than punctuating the movie.
In the midst of filming High Society, Louis and the band gave a sell out concert at Pasadena’s Civic Auditorium before going back in the studio recording for Columbia, before more concerts from Grand Rapids Michigan to New York City on a tour with Woody Herman’s Orchestra. Louis’s stamina was amazing. As if to prove conclusively that he was the most hardworking man in American music, Satchmo flew to Australia in early April to play concerts and appear on television before flying to London to start his first tour of Britain for 23 years.
Follow the Louis Armstrong Best Of playlist for more of Satchmo’s greatest hits.