Peggy Lee

Songs from "Pete Kelly's Blues"

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Peggy Lee received strong reviews for her portrayal of a troubled singer in Jack Webb's Jazz Age crime drama Pete Kelly's Blues. This isn't the movie's official soundtrack (which comes with musical contributions from Ella Fitzgerald and a crack jazz ensemble, as well as many of the songs found here), but re-recordings of tunes that Lee performed in the movie. Since Pete Kelly's Blues takes place during the 1920s, Harold Mooney's orchestrations combine elements of old-style Dixieland with a 1950s swing style. Lee is perfectly in sync with this approach, and sounds strong throughout, even on her appropriately freaky interpretation of "Sing a Rainbow," which her character performs from the confines of a mental institution after suffering a complete breakdown. Lee was rewarded for her performance with a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award nomination but surprisingly, this didn't result in the movie career that she'd always wanted. It is widely believed that this was due to Hollywood considering Peggy Lee's portrayal of a singer plagued by alcohol and mental health problems as (rightly or wrongly) too close to the vocalist's own life.

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