Kid Nightingale (1939)

Skip Davis (Walter Catlett) is a boxing manager hoping to discover the “next big thing” in the sport. When he happens upon the scene of singing waiter Steve Nelson (John Payne) engaging in hand-to-hand combat with a few hecklers, Skip thinks he may have found his star.

Steve isn’t too interested in making his name with his fists, though, instead hoping to win fans as a singer. Skip sees an opportunity: rope in some female fans with Steve’s good looks and singing, engaging in a few fixed fights to rake in the dough.

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(Image via Wikimedia Commons)

But it may all go wrong if Steve’s gal Judy (Jane Wyman) figures out what Skip is up to.

George Amy directs 1939’s Kid Nightingale.

This film’s premise of singing-waiter-turned-singing-boxer makes for okay entertainment, with songs brightening the mood here and there. The music isn’t particularly memorable (the most memorable actually being the warbled vocals of Steve’s drunk hecklers), but makes for fine listening. And the idea of Steve lulling his boxing opponents to sleep with song is amusing.

Jane Wyman’s bright screen presence adds to the film, but unfortunately she isn’t given a whole lot to do. I would have liked to see her talents put to better use in a more prominent role.

Another issue is that the pace kind of drags. The film is short and is about the world of boxing, so even though it isn’t my favorite sport to watch on screen, I expected a watch as quick in pace as it is brief in run-time. No such luck!

Bits of fun are offered by Kid Nightingale, but not in large enough measure for me to recommend the film highly. You won’t miss out on much by skipping this one.

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One thought on “Kid Nightingale (1939)

  1. Todd B says:

    Too bad this wasn’t really worth a watch…I liked John Payne in the few films I’ve seen him in. Thankfully he’d put his boxing skills to better use in ’99 River Street’!

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