Wednesday, December 28, 2016

REST IN PEACE: DEBBIE REYNOLDS

Rest in peace legendary actress Debbie Reynolds. She appeared with Bing in the movie Say One For Me (1959), and she appeared on his televisions special celebrating Bing's 50 years in show business in 1977...




Sunday, December 25, 2016

WHAT DID BING THINK OF DAVID BOWIE?

Bing may have been somewhat aware 0f Bowie by word of mouth from a relative or colleague, but I doubt Bowie would have been on the Pop culture radar of the 73 year old Crosby, esp. when Pop culture wasn’t as widely disseminated as it is today.
A month after the special featuring their duet, Crosby was dead of a heart attack. The special was broadcast on CBS about a month after his death.
"Peace on Earth," an original tune that Bowie sings an arrangement that weaved “Little Drummer Boy together was written in about 75 minutes, Bowie and Crosby nailed the performance with less than an hour of rehearsal.
It's unclear, however, whether Crosby had any idea who Bowie was.

If anyone has definitive clues as to what Bing thought of David Bowie, I would be interested in hearing your comments...

Sunday, December 18, 2016

GUEST REVIEW: WHITE CHRISTMAS

Bruce Kogan is back with a review of the yuletide classic White Christmas...

By 1954 the song White Christmas had become such a timeless classic that it was inevitable that a film would be made around it. And of course the star would be none other than Bing Crosby. But who to star with him.

Originally this was to be the third Irving Berlin outing for Bing and Fred Astaire. Then Donald O'Connor was to co-star, but finally Danny Kaye teamed with Der Bingle. Proved to be a felicitous combination.

By then Rosemary Clooney had worked in a few films well and more importantly, she had clicked with Crosby on the radio. Bing had teamed with several girl singers over the years, like Connee Boswell, Frances Langford, Mary Martin, Trudy Erwin, Carole Richards, Peggy Lee and a trio of sisters named Andrews. But he always said Rosemary Clooney was it for him and besides Mary Martin, the only other one who did became a leading lady for him.

It's not remembered because of the success of her solo career, but Rosemary Clooney started as a duo with her sister Betty who retired early to raise a family. So with Vera-Ellen as her sister in the movie, that was an aspect of the plot Rosemary could handle with ease.


The plot such as it is involves Bing and Danny as a song and dance duo who've expanded into the production end of show business. Through a little bit of a con game worked by Vera Ellen, the two meet a singing sister act like the Clooney sisters were. The sisters turn out to be headed to Vermont to work at a resort and the smitten guys go along with them.

Problem is there ain't any snow there. It's an unheard of 68 degrees Fahrenheit in early December. And the place is owned by Crosby and Kaye's former commander from World War II, played by Dean Jagger. He's about to lose his shirt and his pride. So our intrepid quartet go to work.


Irving Berlin's score for White Christmas is about half new songs and the other half from previous scores. That's how it was when you got Irving to work for you. Listen carefully even to the background music. You will not hear one note of a non-Berlin song.

One of those songs was a personal favorite of mine, Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep. I recall in grade school in Brooklyn it was a song that the teachers had us sing in the school assemblies. Little did I know that it was introduced by the guy who proved to be my favorite entertainer. It's a patented philosophical Bing Crosby song that he did best and it serves as a ballad to woo and win Rosie. Bing sings it and then Rosie joins him in the reprise.

Danny Kaye has two good numbers. The first The Best Things Happen While Your Dancing is clearly originally for Fred Astaire, though Kaye and Vera Ellen make a lovely couple on the dance floor. The Choreography number I think was also done for Astaire, but here dancer John Brascia does the complicated dance routine while Kaye sings. I'm sure Astaire would have handled both jobs had the film been made with him.

All the stars do the Minstrel Show/Mandy number, but Vera Ellen really shines in it. She was a great dancer, really sparkled in every film she did.


Besides Sisters, Rosemary Clooney has a grand torch ballad that sold a few platters for her in Love, You Didn't Do Right By Me. She had a wonderful singing voice and the most impeccable diction of any female singer ever. You don't miss one throbbing word on any of her ballads.

White Christmas was Paramount's first film done in their wide screen process called VistaVision. And of course it was proper that their number one star for over 20 years be in this film. Of course jokes about Bing's derrière and the wide screen got into the repertoire of a certain comedian named Hope.

Just like the song that inspired it, White Christmas has proved to be a timeless holiday classic and will remain so...


BRUCE'S RATING: 9 OUT OF 10
MY RATING: 8 OUT OF 10


Monday, December 12, 2016

BELLS OF ST. MARYS CHILD STAR DIES

Joan Carroll, a former child star who appeared in Meet Me in St. Louis opposite Judy Garland and The Bells of St. Mary's with Bing Crosby, has passed away, it was recently accounced.

Carroll died Nov. 16 near her home in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, her son, Joe Krack, said.

Carroll played Garland's younger sister Agnes, who pulls a dangerous prank with the youngest sister, Tootie (Margaret O'Brien), in Meet Me in St. Louis (1944). The actress was sidelined for a few days during filming after she needed an emergency appendectomy.

Carroll then portrayed the struggling eighth-grade parish student Patsy who at first doesn't get any sympathy from Ingrid Bergman in The Bells of St. Mary's (1945).

Carroll made quite the impression as Ginger Rogers' younger sister Honeybell in Primrose Path (1940), then was loaned by RKO so she could appear on Broadway as Geraldine in Panama Hattie, a Cole Porter musical comedy about sailors in the Panama Canal Zone that starred Ethel Merman and ran from October 1940 to January 1942. (Shirley Temple had turned down the part.)

"For sunshine and sentiment, little Joan Carroll, who is now fully 8 years old, is wholly captivating," Brooks Atkinson wrote in his review for The New York Times. "She and Miss Merman get along together beautifully, and gruff old codgers are going to choke a little this Winter when tot and temptress sing 'Let's Be Buddies' and bring the house down."

Carroll also appeared opposite Ruth Warrick in two films: Obliging Young Lady (1942), in which she played the daughter of wealthy divorcing parents, and Petticoat Larceny (1943), where she was a young radio star who goes undercover to better understand her roles (and then gets kidnapped).

The Bells of St. Mary's was her last film. She continued to live in Beverly Hills, got married and then moved with her family to Colorado, her son said.

Born Joan Marie Felt in Elizabeth, N.J., Carroll and her folks came to California in 1936 when she was 5. She made her film debut in One Mile From Heaven (1937) opposite Claire Trevor and later appeared in Mr. Moto's Last Warning (1939), Basil Rathbone's Tower of London (1939), Anne of Windy Poplars (1940) and Tomorrow, the World! (1944).

Survivors include her other children Ann Marie, Mary Anne and James; her brother James; 14 grandchildren; and 19 great-grandchildren. A donation in her name may be made to Sacred Heart Jesuit Center, P.O. Box 128, Los Gatos, CA 95031.

Carroll was 85 years of age.


Saturday, December 10, 2016

PHOTOS OF THE DAY: BING AND VERA-ELLEN

It's that time of the year to dust off the 1954 musical White Christmas and watch Bing and Danny Kaye dance upon your yuletide screen. Bing's leading lady in the film was Rosemary Clooney, but I wanted to see if I could find any pictures of Der Bingle with Danny Kaye's love interest in the film - Vera-Ellen. Here's what I found...














Saturday, December 3, 2016

MOVIE REVIEW: GOING HOLLYWOOD

Many people love films about Hollywood like Sunset Boulevard (1950) and Singin In The Rain (1952) and rightfully so. However, there are some hidden film gems about Hollywood that I really love to watch. One such film is a 1933 offering from MGM - Going Hollywood.

Going Hollywood was primarily a starring vehicle for rising crooner Bing Crosby. Bing had become a superstar a year earlier with a popular radio show and his first feature film for Paramount Studios, The Big Broadcast (1932). However, the studio was still unsure what to do with their instantly hot product. Was Bing a singer who acted or an actor that could sing? Paramount loaned Bing to MGM, which is something they would really not do much in the future. This film would be Bing's first film for MGM studios, which at the time was the biggest film studio in the world. Bing would not make another film at MGM for 20 years and the only other movies he made for the studio would be: High Society (1956), Man On Fire (1957), and That's Entertainment(1974).

Back to Going Hollywood, the film was also a vehicle for actress Marion Davies. Despite a lifelong relationship with paper tycoon William Randolph Hearst, Davies was a star who was becoming more famous for her relationship with Hearst than for her movies. This film did little for Davies' career, but she did look beautiful in the film. Rounding out the cast were great supporting stars as Stuart Erwin, Fifi D'Orsay, Ned Sparks, and Patsy Kelly.


The plot of the movie has Bing basically playing Bing Crosby. He is a crooner going to Hollywood for his first starring role. Fifi D'Orsay is his girlfriend and uptight French leading lady. When I first saw the movie as a teenager I really hated her, but that is a sign of a good actress. Her role in the film was to make you hate her. Marion Davies, basically plays a stalker. She plays a school teacher at an uptight private girl's school who dreams of a relationship with the crooner. When she quits the school, she hitches a train to Hollywood to meet Crosby. She gets a small role in the film Bing is working on with D'Orsay, and as the relationship between Bing and Fifi disintegrates, the career and love life of Marion Davies looks up as she makes Bing realize that she is the woman of his dreams.


Despite a great opening in Grand Central Station, not much of the "real" Hollywood is used, which is unfortunate. The music is written by the great Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed, and the film shows the debut of the popular torch song "Temptation". Other musical highlights include Bing singing "Beautiful Girl" to a young Sterling Holloway (of Winnie The Pooh fame), the bizarre Busby Berkeley-like number "We'll Make Hay While The Sun Shines", and the underrated "Our Big Love Scene". Bing and Marion Davies both looked great in the movie, and the film holds up well 72 years after it was made.

The Hollywood plot of stars going to Hollywood for fame and fortune is a plot line that is still used to do this day. Also the storyline about a failing production, an out of touch director (Ned Sparks), a naive producer (Stuart Erwin), and an uptight prima donna (Fifi D'Orsay) is again something that is a part of modern Hollywood as well as this vintage 1933 Hollywood. The movie is about Hollywood, but like in many movies, the personality of Bing Crosby overshadows the whole film...

MY RATING: 10 OUT OF 10




Monday, November 21, 2016

FLASHBACK: 1952



When Jimmy Stewart guested on Bing Crosby’s radio show on March 19, 1952, he, Bing and Fran Warren sang a short rendition of Mississippi Mud (Harry Barris/James Cavanaugh). This was edited from the show and released on several Bing Crosby compilation albums. The entire segment lasts only 51-seconds and begins with Jimmy saying, “Hey Bing…Bing…What… What…What was that…What was that mud song you used to sing all the time?” Bing sings a line, Fran sings a line which ends with Jimmy singing “chewin’ on a cud,” and all three singing on the chorus.

Monday, November 14, 2016

NINE THINGS YOU DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT BING

Great info on Bing...


Nine things you might not know about legendary crooner Bing Crosby.

1. He got his name from a comic strip in The Spokesman-Review: Born Harry Lillis Crosby in Tacoma, Bing moved with his family to Spokane when he was 3 years old. The new name found him when he was 7. At the time, The Spokesman-Review ran a comics-page feature called “The Bingville Bugle,” which was a parody of hillbilly newspapers. Little Harry thought it was a real hoot and laughed uproariously whenever he read it. A neighbor, 15-year-old Valentine Hobart, noticed the laughter and started calling him “Bingo from Bingville.” The nickname was soon shortened to Bing and stuck with him for the rest of his life.

2. He might have been a lawyer if only it paid better: Before heading for Hollywood in 1925, Bing was a law student in his third year at Gonzaga University. In addition to his studies, he worked part-time in the office of Spokane attorney Col. Charles S. Albert and performed in a popular local dance band. “It began to dawn on me that I was making as much money on the side, singing and playing drums, as Col. Albert was paying his assistant attorney,” Bing later recounted. “This gave me to think: what was I doing pursuing the law when singing offered fatter financial possibilities.”

3. He scored 13 holes in one: Bing was no duffer on the golf course. He was a five-time club champion who was good enough to play in both the U.S. Amateur and the British Amateur championships. He was beset by throngs of fans when word got out that Bing Crosby was playing the U.S. Amateur, so he quietly entered the 1950 British tournament as Harry L. Crosby. Again, word leaked that it was Bing on the greens and record crowds filled the gallery. During his lifetime, he scored 13 holes in one, testament both to Bing’s ability and how often he played the game.

4. He saved the seventh game of the 1960 World Series: Bing was an owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team from 1946 until his death in 1977. When his Pirates played the New York Yankees in the 1960 World Series, Bing decided to take his wife to Paris rather than attend the game and risk jinxing his beloved ballclub. With the Series tied at three games each, Bing hired a private crew to film the seventh and deciding game so he could watch it when he got home. It turned out to be one of the greatest games in World Series history, with the Pirates winning 10-9 on second baseman Bill Mazeroski’s ninth-inning home run. Bing no doubt enjoyed watching the game upon his return, then quietly packed it away in the cool, dry basement of his California home. In 1960, baseball games were aired live but not typically recorded and it was long believed that dramatic game had been lost forever. But in 2009, a man cataloguing tapes of Crosby TV appearances for the crooner’s estate discovered five dusty metal film canisters labeled “1960 World Series.” The New York Times ran the story of the lost game found on its front page.

5. He also loved the hot ponies: When Bing and a few partners opened the Del Mar Racetrack just north of San Diego in 1937, he showed up to take tickets and shake hands at the entrance on opening day. For years, the track’s Turf Club was a hot spot for Hollywood star sightings and the horse racing was pretty good, too. In 1938, Del Mar hosted the famous winner-take-all two-horse race between Seabiscuit and Ligaroti, which NBC aired as the first-ever national radio broadcast of a horse race.

6. He was dreaming of a white Christmas in the film “Holiday Inn”: Bing’s rendition of “White Christmas” is still the best-selling single of all time, nearly 40 years after his death. Irving Berlin wrote the song for the 1942 musical film “Holiday Inn,” which starred Bing and Fred Astaire. Twelve years later, Bing starred with Danny Kaye in the film “White Christmas,” which borrowed the name and reprised the Academy Award-winning song. In between, Bing won the Academy Award for best actor in the 1944 film “Going My Way,” playing Father Chuck O’Malley, a character he based on a priest he had known at Gonzaga.

7. His last hit song was a duet with David Bowie: Bing’s televised Christmas TV specials were an American holiday staple until he died in 1977. The programs always featured Bing and his family, along with popular musical stars of the day, singing seasonal songs and performing skits. Bing invited the British glam rocker David Bowie to appear on his 1977 program and the two performed a strangely successful duet called “Peace on Earth,” complete with a corny intro sketch. The pre-recorded show actually aired two months after Bing died. In 1982, RCA released a single of the Bing-Bowie Christmas song, which has showed remarkable seasonal staying power over the years, climbing to No. 3 on the charts in December 2006.

8. He drove an Edsel to help Gonzaga: Bing built a new library for Gonzaga University back in the 1950s and raised some of the money for the project by starring in “The Edsel Show.” The television special, which aired in place of Ed Sullivan on Sunday, Oct. 13, 1957, starred Bing and friends Frank Sinatra, Rosemary Clooney, Louis Armstrong and, of course, Bob Hope. Although Bing was the real driver behind the show, his alma mater was by contract the producer and as a result received a tidy $250,000 payday. The show was notable as the first CBS entertainment program recorded on videotape for rebroadcasting in the West after the show was performed live for the TV audience in the East. It was also a hit, earning Look Magazine’s TV award for best musical show of the year. However, to the disappointment of sponsor Ford Motor Co., the show’s success did not transfer to the popularity of the new-for-1958 Edsel brand of automobiles.

9. His childhood home is open to the public: Bing grew up at 508 E. Sharp Ave. in Spokane in a Craftsman-style house built in 1913 by his father and two uncles. The family lived there until they sold the home to a neighbor in 1936. The house still sits at the edge of the campus of Gonzaga University, which today owns the property. The well-preserved Crosby home contains displays that celebrate Bing’s life and accomplishments – photographs, gold records, golf mementos, even the Oscar he won in 1944. It is open to the public 9 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. weekdays and 1-4 p.m. on Saturdays. There is no charge for admission.

Monday, November 7, 2016

PHILCO RADIO TIME: 1947

In 1947, Bing continued to pioneer in radio broadcasting during his second Philco season. To address complaints about the audio quality of the first season of recorded broadcasts, Bing became the first to use magnetic tape recorders for his second season. Not only was the audio quality much improved, but tape was more easily edited than disks.

What follows is a list of the broadcasts, principal guests and songs sung by Bing from his second Philco season. Joining Bing throughout the season are his announcer, Ken Carpenter, the John Scott Trotter Orchestra and vocalist Peggy Lee. Rudolph Schmohoffer always arrived too late for the broadcast.

An asterisk (*) beside a show indicates a particularly great show; an asterisk beside a song indicates a great Crosby vocal...


PHILCO RADIO TIME (10-1-47) w GARY COOPER (1st taped show) My heart is a hobo; A long train (Peggy Lee); Medley: Small cafe / Chi-Baba / Peg of my heart; You do 

PHILCO RADIO TIME (10-8-47) w JIMMY DURANTE Whistling intro; Feudin, fightin and fussin; Just an old love of mine (Peggy Lee); That's my desire / I wonder whose kissing her now; As long as I'm dreaming

PHILCO RADIO TIME (10-15-47) w DINAH SHORE In Kocomo Indiana; Almost like being in love; I wish I didn't love you so (Dinah); Flop parade 

PHILCO RADIO TIME (10-22-47) w CLIFTON WEBB, BURL IVES Come to the Mardi Gras; Home on the range; Clementine; Just an old love of mine

PHILCO RADIO TIME (10-29-47) w BORIS KARLOFF, VICTOR MOORE Whistling Intro; Feudin, fightin, fussin; Ain't you ever coming back?; Duet with Karloff; Whiffenpoof song 

PHILCO RADIO TIME (11-5-47) w OZZIE & HARRIET NELSON Tallahassee; I Wish I Didn't Love You So; Almost Like Being in Love; Sunday, Monday, Always (w O&H); Why Don't You Fall in Love with Me? (w O&H); You Do 

PHILCO RADIO TIME (11-12-47) w PETER LORRE, WILLIAMS BROS. Come to the Mardi Gras; Hello Hello (Williams Bros); Jubilee (Williams Bros); Ain't you every coming back? 

PHILCO RADIO TIME (11-19-47) w BARRY FITZGERALD, DOROTHY KIRSTEN Freedom train; Indian summer (w Kirsten); Skit: How Bing met Barry; Too ra loo ral; I wish I didn't love you so 

PHILCO RADIO TIME (11-26-47) w FRANKIE LAINE The Old Chaparone; My Desire (Laine); Narration of "Man Without a Country"

PHILCO RADIO TIME (12-3-47) w AL JOLSON Pass the peace pipe; Kate; Rosey (w Jolson); A Pretty Girl (w Jolson); Best Things in Life are Free (w Jolson)

PHILCO RADIO TIME (12-10-47) w WALTER O'KEEFE * Civilization (Bongo Bongo Bongo); Whiffenpoof song*; Little by little; How soon 

PHILCO RADIO TIME (12-17-47) w JOE FRISCO, EILEEN WOODS, RUDOLPH SCHMOHOFFER Pass the peace pipe; Ballerina; I still get jealous; White Christmas

PHILCO RADIO TIME (12-24-47) w SKITCH HENDERSON AND THE CHARIOTEERS Adeste Fideles, The Christmas song, Jingle Bells, White Christmas, Silent Night. The last half of the show was a performance of a Christmas play called "The Small One." (This show was a rebroadcast of the 1946 Christmas show.) 

PHILCO RADIO TIME (12-31-47) w DANNY THOMAS You don't have to know the language; Let's start the new year right; Civilization (Bongo Bongo Bongo); But Beautiful

Monday, October 31, 2016

SHE LOVES ME NOT: A 1934 REVIEW

Here is an interesting review of Bing's early movie She Loves Me Not. This was originally published in the NY Times on September 8, 1934...

It is indeed a strange group of characters that are introduced during the hectic proceedings in the film version of last season's play,  She Loves Me Not. Mixed up with Princeton students are the university dean, his daughter, a fiery-tempered cabaret dancer, a couple of cool gunmen and an energetic motion picture press agent and his persistent camera men. As on the stage, this adaptation is a swift-paced piece of hilarity, with occasional romantic interludes during which Bing Crosby and Kitty Carlisle contribute some tuneful melodies.

Some of the farcical episodes in this Paramount offering are apt to recall that famous old comedy, "Charley's Aunt," but in the present production, instead of having a varsity student in skirts, they dress up a cabaret girl in male attire after she has invaded a dormitory room. It has many madcap exploits, such as when the urbane Dean Mercer is felled unconscious by one of the students, just after a thug has been treated similarly. It gives the producers the opportunity to present the thug and the college dean bound together on a sofa. And not the least humorous aspect of this incident is the fact that that excellent actor, Henry Stephenson, impersonates the unfortunate dean.


The story slips from a night club in Philadelphia to Princeton, thence to New York and back to the university. Miriam Hopkins appears as Curly Flagg, a dancer who flees from a night club—where she was a witness to a killing—to Princeton, where she takes refuge in one of the students' rooms. She is a constant source of worry to two students, Paul Lawton and Buzz Jones, even when she is garbed as a young man. Then the gangster chief decides that Curly will probably squeal about the murder and he dispatches two hirelings to "take her for a ride."

A motion picture producer hears about the girl being hidden in the Princeton students' room and his imaginative publicity man conceives the notion of employing Curly as a star, after getting as much publicity as possible in discovering her.


Lawton, who is acted by Bing Crosby, becomes infatuated with Midge Mercer, the dean's daughter, and their romance offers opportunity for the singing of several songs, which include "Love in Bloom," "I'm Hummin'," "I'm Whistlin'," "I'm Singin'" and "Straight From the Shoulder, Right From the Heart." These are rendered quite effectively by Mr. Crosby and Miss Carlisle.

Miriam Hopkins gives a vivacious performance as Curly and Warren Hymer adds to the fun by his portrayal of a gangster. Lynne Overman is splendid as the publicity man and George Barbier is in his element in the rôle of a motion picture magnate. Mr. Stephenson makes the most of the rôle of the unfortunate Dean Mercer...

Monday, October 24, 2016

BING AND BRUNSWICK

One of the first record labels Bing Crosby signed with was the Brunswick label, where he recorded some of his first hits like "Please", "Brother Can You Spare A Dime", and "Temptation". Here is a great advertisement I found of the Brunswick label with Bing from 1933...



Friday, October 14, 2016

OCTOBER 14, 1977

39 years ago, the music died for one of the most widely heard voices in history...

This article was originally published by the Daily News on October 15, 1977. This story was written by Amador Marin...


Madrid - Bing Crosby, the crooner of beautiful songs who dominated show business for three generations of lovers around the world, died here yesterday of a heart attack after completing a round of golf. "Der Bingle" was 73, and his death produced shock and grief among millions of devoted fans.

The end for the man with the gold baritone voice and relaxed, pipe-smoking humor came at the end of a 4 ½ - hour round of his beloved golf during which the great singer and actor was described as "happy and singing" - fresh from an acclaimed tour of Britain. He had come to Spain for a few days of rest and relaxation.

Crosby had been playing with three prominent Spanish golfers on the La Moraleja club course on the outskirts of Madrid, and the foursome had just left the 18th hole late in the afternoon. The four happy players were walking back to the clubhouse when Crosby was seized by a heart attack and slumped to the ground.

"We thought he had just slipped," said one of the Bing's playing comrades, Valentin Barrios, a champion Spanish golfer. "We took him to the clubhouse and he was given oxygen and cardiac tonic injections, but nothing could be done, Bing had shown no signs of fatigue. He was happy and singing as we went around the course."


Crosby, Barrios said, did not utter a sound as he fell to the turf.

"There were no last words," Barrios said.

It was about 6:30 p.m. on a warm sunny afternoon here when Crosby died. He was taken to the Red Cross Hospital in Madrid in an ambulance, but doctors there could do nothing. He was pronounced dead on arrival. "We carried him to the clubhouse, but it was already too late," said another member of the foursome, Manuel Pinero, the current Spanish golf champion.

"We were walking back to the clubhouse chatting and happy that we had won," Pinero said last night, as he recalled how he and Crosby had defeated Barrios and another Spanish golfer, Cesar de Zulueta, president of La Moraleja club.

Crosby's last game of golf was good. "Bing played better than Thursday, when he shot 92," Barrios told reporters...

Monday, October 10, 2016

GUEST REVIEWER: RHYTHM ON THE RIVER

Guest reviewer Bruce Kogan is back to take a look at the forgotten 1940 musical gem - Rhythm On The River...

Poor Basil Rathbone, an egotistical composer who's lost his muse. He's been faking it for some time, buying his lyrics and his music from various sources. Trouble is that two of the sources (Bing Crosby music) and (Mary Martin words) happen to meet and fall in love. And then they discover what they've been doing. Complications ensue, but all is righted at the end.

Crosby and Martin sing terrifically. Mary had signed a Paramount contract and also at the same time doubled as a regular on Crosby's Kraft Music Hall Radio Show. For reasons I don't understand, movie audiences didn't take to her, so she went back to Broadway and did One Touch of Venus in 1944 and stayed there.

Basil Rathbone in one of the few times he played comedy does it very well. His ego is constantly being deflated by sidekick Oscar Levant and again I'm surprised they didn't do more films together.

As in most of Crosby's Paramount vehicles, no big production numbers, but the title tune being done as an impromptu jam session in a pawn shop is cinematic gold. It shows what great rhythm Bing had. Good job by all.

Billy Wilder is co-credited for the story, and his unsentimental touch is noticeable in this quite original tale of ghostwriting songwriters who both work for burnt-out music legend Oliver Courtney. The obvious misunderstandings are gotten out of the way quite quickly, thank heaven, and what remains is a witty and breezy concoction with some fine songs (and some more forgettable ones).



Crosby at his most charming, a great turn by Broadway legend Mary Martin and Basil Rathbone and Oscar Levant providing most of the cynical barbs (Levant is in rare form and his quips haven't dated at all). Martin's singing gives hope and question to the ironic fact that she never scored in movies, given four years to try and make it at Paramount before giving up and returning to Broadway where she had greater luck. Crosby is his easy going self as usual, dropping deadpan lines like a dog with a bone after realizing that nothing else remained to gnaw on. A delightful surprise, and recommended for all fans of the genre.

A surprisingly original plot and great entertainment...

BRUCE'S RATING: 9 OUT OF 10
MY RATING: 9 OUT OF 10



Monday, October 3, 2016

SPOTLIGHT ON DIXIE LEE CROSBY

Born Wilma Winifred Wyatt, she adopted the professional name "Dixie Carroll" as a singer and showgirl. Winfield Sheehan of the Fox film studio changed the name to Dixie Lee, to avoid confusion with actresses Nancy Carroll and Sue Carol. She married Bing Crosby at the age of 18, and had four sons with him, all of them battled alcoholism as Dixie did.

Crosby's biographer, Gary Giddins, describes Dixie Lee as a shy, private person with a sensible approach to life. Giddins recounts that Dixie and Bing, as young marrieds, were often invited to parties where liquor was plentiful, and Dixie drank socially to keep up with Bing. She succeeded in curbing Bing's alcohol consumption, but ironically her own alcoholism worsened. She had a brief film career, starring in a few features for Bing's home studio Paramount Pictures in the 1930s; her most notable film is probably Love in Bloom (1935).

The two first met in November 1928 and Bing was immediately smitten. Dixie was a bit more hesitant. They met again at a party in Hollywood in early 1929 and the Crosby charm was too much to resist. The two married September 29, 1930, at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament in Hollywood. 


As Bing's stardom rose to superstar status in the 1930s, four boys arrived in the Crosby household. Gary Crosby arrived first in October 1933, the twins, Phillip and Dennis came along in 1934, and Lindsay rounded out the bunch in 1938.

However, despite her husband's fame and the four boys, Dixie was very tortured with what modern doctors would diagnose as depression. In the 1940s, Bing Crosby was one of the most recognizable men in the world, and with this fame he spent more and more time away from his family. As a result, Dixie was turning more and more towards alcohol.


In 1947, a movie came out called Smash-Up, the Story of a Woman starring Susan Hayward. It was a thinly disguised story based on the life of Dixie. It was directed by Stuart Heisler, who had directed Bing in Blue Skies the year before. Bing and Dixie were outraged at the film, and it further brought tension to their lives together.

Bing attempted to divorce Dixie following World War II to marry actress Joan Caulfield. The Catholic hierarchy denied Bing's request, and Caulfield was sent packing. In 1952 Bing learned that Dixie was dying of ovarian cancer while he was in France filming Little Boy Lost. She died Nov. 1, 1952, a week after his return home and three days before her 41st birthday. Bing's children and friends noted that Bing was devastated by his wife's death, despite their close encounters with divorce. Despite eventually remarrying in 1957, others close to Bing say he never recovered from the death of Dixie, who was there with him since the beginning of his rise to super stardom. Dixie Lee was definitely the woman behind the man, depite her demons...




Monday, September 26, 2016

REST IN PEACE: ARNOLD PALMER


       


              ARNOLD PALMER (1929-2016)

Monday, September 19, 2016

PHOTOS OF THE DAY: BING IN THE 1960S

The 1960s was a decade of change in Bing Crosby's life. For three decades, Bing was the biggest star in the history of entertainment. Now with the dawn of rock 'n' roll, Bing was suddenly a relic of a bygone era. Meanwhile, Bing had a younger family so he moved away from the front of the entertainment world to raise this new second family. However, here are some Bing photos from the 1960s, which showed Bing at the age of 57-66...





Bing dressed in drag for HIGH TIME (1960)


With golfer ARNOLD PALMER




With Dorothy Lamour and Bob Hope from the last Road movie - THE ROAD TO HONG KONG

With Maurice Chevalier on Bing's TV special