Dixie is the saga of pre-Civil War minstrel man and songwriter, Daniel Decatur Emmett (Bing Crosby), who had a song in his soul, and an innate showmanship which inspired what later became the standard blackface minstrel makeup. Born of duress and privation, the vagabond troupers in a New Orleans music hall set a standard which, as the story develops, wound up in the rousing and spirited ‘I Wish I were in Dixie’, as result of a catastrophic backstage fire.
The story itself is literally a three-fire affair. It seems as if Crosby’s careless corncob pipe is always getting him into red-hot trouble. It runs the gamut of burning down his fiancee’s father’s house (opening), and the backstage finale, which, however, caused Crosby to heroically keep singing ‘Dixie’, accelerating it into the spirited tempo with which we now identify the classic American folk song.
As a story it’s lightweight. It’s also doubtlessly a very free fictionization of Dan Emmett’s career, but it’s sufficient unto the purpose thereof.