Monday, August 24, 2015

AUDIO ASPIRIN: WHOSE DREAM ARE YOU

PHOTOS OF THE DAY: BING AND FISHING

Bing Crosby had so many activities outside of Hollywood - from horse racing to golf that a few of his interests get overshadowed. One such past time that I enjoyed when I was younger was fishing. Here are some great pictures showing Bing enjoying the relaxing art of fishing...













Monday, August 17, 2015

GUEST REVIEWER: HIGH TOR

Our resident Bing Crosby guru, Bruce Krogan is back with his review of the rare Bing television movie, High Tor...


High Tor is a musical adaption by Maxwell Anderson of his own drama of the same name. The play High Tor had a run of 171 performances in 1937 and had Burgess Meredith and Peggy Ashcroft starring in the roles that Bing Crosby and Julie Andrews took in this version. Additionally Anderson wrote the lyrics that Bing and Julie and the rest of the cast sang to Arthur Schwartz's music.

High Tor was an episode done for Ford Star Jubilee and it was a live broadcast of an original musical done for television. In watching a tape of the production, you would have to remember that this was still early television and in that the values were pretty shoddy, not at all what we are used to now. It's an outdoor story, the whole plot takes place on a mountain owned by Bing Crosby on the west bank of the Hudson River. It would better have been done on film with some nice location shots. It couldn't be done on the Hudson now though, what was feared at the time, commercial development, has come to pass.

Bing owns a mountain called High Tor and a couple of sharpies played by Hans Conreid and Lloyd Corrigan are trying to get it from him. Bing's fiancé played by Nancy Olson wants him to sell so they can start afresh somewhere else.


There's another group interested in the mountain. A group of marooned sailors who were left there by Henry Hudson who never came back for them are there, or at least their spirits are. Two of them are Everett Sloane and his daughter Julie Andrews. Henry Hudson on a later voyage was marooned on the bay that is named after him in Canada. I guess what goes around, truly does come around.

On a magical autumn night Crosby, the crooks, Olson, the Dutch sailor spirits, and a trio of bank robbers who robbed the bank in Nanuet all have a date with destiny on High Tor. If you think the play borrows a lot from A Midsummer Night's Dream, you'd be right.

Another reason that this is not better remembered is that no hit songs came from the score. That is a pity because it has some lovely tunes. Bing gets one of his philosophical numbers, Living One Day at a Time, a genre that was almost his alone. A favorite of mine is a ballad sung at one time by all the cast members, When You're In Love and there's a comic ode to a different kind of spirit, John Barleycorn.

Bing's rival Frank Sinatra had early done a live original musical adaption of Our Town in which his classic Love and Marriage came from. If Bing had a song that got that kind of acclaim from this score, High Tor would be a classic itself.

Since the story did involve ghosts some special effects that wouldn't have been available in a live TV broadcast also would have added to the production values.

Still if you can get the tape of the kinescope it would be a real viewing treat...

BRUCE'S RATING: 6 OUT OF 10
MY RATING: 7 OUT OF 10



Monday, August 10, 2015

BING CROSBY AND WOODBURY SOAP

Like everything in classic Hollywood, I think the advertisements of classic Hollywood were just better as well. Here is an advertisement that is over 80 years old. It is Bing's pitching Woodbury Soap from 1934, which was one of his first radio sponsors...



Tuesday, August 4, 2015

A TRIBUTE TO KEN BARNES



KEN BARNES: A MUSIC LEGEND

FEBRUARY 14, 1933 - AUGUST 4, 2015

RIP: KEN BARNES


Record producer and musical genius Ken Barnes has died today. No words can express what he meant to Bing's career in the 1970s - so here are a few pictures of the greats he worked with - Bing, Fred Astaire, and Johnny Mercer.

He will be missed...








RIP: COLEEN GRAY - BING'S LEADING LADY IN RIDING HIGH

Coleen Gray, the dark-haired beauty who stood out in such film noir thrillers as Kiss of Death,Nightmare Alley and Kansas City Confidential, has died. She was 92.

Gray, who also starred opposite John Wayne in Howard Hawks’ Red River (1948) and played crook Sterling Hayden’s attractive accomplice in Stanley Kubrick’s The Killing (1956), died Monday of natural causes at her home in Bel Air, longtime friend David Schecter told The Hollywood Reporter.

“My last dame is gone. Always had the feeling she'd be the last to go,” Eddie Muller, founder and president of the Film Noir Foundation, wrote on Facebook. They collaborated on his 2001 book,Dark City Dames: The Wicked Women of Film Noir.

Gray was “introduced” to audiences in Henry Hathaway’s Kiss of Death (1947) as Nette, the girlfriend and future wife of ex-con Nick Bianco (Victor Mature), who battles psychopathic killer Tommy Udo (Richard Widmark) in a bid to go straight once and for all.

The Nebraska native then segued to a role as scheming carnival barker Tyrone Power’s aide inNightmare Alley (1947), then appeared as Wayne’s sweetheart Fen in Red River.

In Kansas City Confidential (1952), Gray portrayed the law-school daughter of a former cop (Preston Foster) who engineers a bank heist by framing a delivery man played by John Payne. (Gray and Payne’s characters fall for each other in the movie, and they were romantically linked offscreen as well.)


Gray also starred in the Frank Capra horse picture Riding High (1950), where her scene with Bing Crosby and Clarence Muse singing “Sunshine Cake” was the favorite film moment of her career.

She played a nurse femme fatale in The Sleeping City (1950) opposite Richard Conte, was manhandled by a creature in The Vampire (1957) and discovered the secret to immortality (but not without consequences) in The Leech Woman (1960).

Gray spent much of the 1960s on television, with guest-starring roles on such shows as Rawhide,Alfred Hitchcock Presents, 77 Sunset Strip, Mister Ed, Perry Mason and Family Affair.

Later, on the NBC drama McCloud, she played the wife of police chief Peter B. Clifford (J.D. Cannon) in a few episodes.


She was born Doris Bernice Jensen on Oct. 23, 1922, in Staplehurst, Neb. At age 7, she and her family moved to Hutchinson, Minn., and she studied drama at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minn.

With only $26 to her name, she took a Greyhound bus to Hollywood. She enrolled at USC and then drama school and starred in the play Brief Music. She was seen by an agent and signed with Fox, where she made her movie debut for the studio in State Fair (1945).

In 1949, Gray starred on Broadway in Leaf and Bough with Charlton Heston.
Gray was married three times, the first to screenwriter, producer and future TV director Rod Amateau and the last to biblical scholar Joseph “Fritz” Zeiser, who died in 2012 (they were together for more than 30 years). Survivors include her daughter Susan, son Bruce, stepsons Rick and Steve and several grandchildren.

A memorial service at Bel Air Presbyterian Church is being planned...


Monday, August 3, 2015

BING CROSBY - A LITTLE BIT COUNTRY


Billboard launched its country music charts in 1944, and the very first No. 1 single in history belonged to Bing Crosby. The legendary “White Christmas” crooner made a surprise leap onto the country chart with the jukebox favorite “Pistol Packin’ Mama,” written by Al Dexter. According to the Western Music Hall of Fame, which inducted Crosby as a member in 2008, Crosby was responsible for “exposing a large and very receptive audience to Western music and laying the groundwork for its acceptance among fans beyond the country genre.”

Monday, July 27, 2015

THE "TRUTH" ABOUT BING

I had this writing as a comment to one of my other postings, but I think it is so well written, it deserves to be made into an article. The comment was written by Steven Little...

Seems that the truth is probably somewhere in the middle between the book and "we was a great dad." I am guessing that part of the motivation to "he was a great dad" was to protect his reputation and probably the value of his music, movie, image, etc rights of which I'm sure they all got a piece. Gary's book may or may not have been the truth and his recanting may have had to do with embracing the real truth or trying to make amends to the family and his father's memory.

I think for the most part people separate their 'love' of the artist and his art from the person. There are ugly rumors (or truths) regarding many artists out there. Back in the day much of these were swept under the rug as people were paid off by studios etc to not report drinking problems, drugs use, affairs, homosexuality, etc, Many of these things are now commonly ignored or blow over with the public or are complete non-issues and media coverage is so much more intense that almost everything eventually comes out.

Bing's issues (whatever they were) were more shocking because he had such a lily white image and they came from a close family member and he was an icon with a different generation. As I said we don't know the truth but, I'm guessing from the family history of alcoholism, divorce, depression, and suicide in his sons that there is something to these stories to what extent? Who knows? The bottom line is his work is what it is and those of us who enjoy it should do so regardless. The truth is artists, singers, actors, and geniuses are all humans and they all have their flaws or perceived flaws. It is best to enjoy the persona and their work and not dig too deep unless you are prepared to handle what you find.


If you are a fan of the cinema and are a homophobe it is best to avoid looking into your favorite stars' lives as many of them will leave you disappointed. Personally I don't care about that or many other issues when I watch, look at, read, or listen to their performances. I do have a few flaws that I can't ignore but, don't we all. Imagine how much poorer we'd be if we threw away all the art, music, writings, and movies produced by someone that doesn't meet some lofty standard.

I think that for the most part Bing is remembered fondly and rarely do I see these references and when I do they are a passing joke with little or no impact...


Monday, July 20, 2015

GRACE KELLY AS BING'S WIFE


Grace Kelly won an Academy Award for her role as Georgie Elgin, wife of an alcoholic, played by Bing Crosby, in 1954’s “The Country Girl.”

She was cast against type as long-suffering wife wearing spectacles and dowdy cardigans, and some doubted whether she could pull off the role. Yet her performance earned her an Oscar against Judy Garland in “A Star Is Born” and Dorothy Dandridge in “Carmen Jones.”

What did people have to say about Kelly’s iconic role?

1. “ ‘The Country Girl’ comes along fitly as one of the fine and forceful pictures of the year,” a New York Times review said in December 1954.

2. Not everyone was so complimentary. Bushy-browed wise-cracker Groucho Marx called Kelly’s Oscar win over Garland “the worst highway robbery since Brink’s,” according to the New York Daily News.

3. Kelly herself told her biographer, “High Society” author Donald Spoto, that Bing Crosby was not thrilled about her being cast in the role: “He almost withdrew from the picture when he heard that I was going to play the part,” the Independent quoted her. The actress said Crosby told producers she was “too pretty” for the role of a frumpy wife.

4. But Kelly said Crosby changed his mind when he saw her drab wardrobe: “She was to play a woman who had been married for 10 years and has lost interest in clothes, herself – everything,” Paramount’s costumier Edith Head said of the character in The Independent.

5. The movie may have given Kelly a little more grit. “Prior to her nomination, she was known as a Hitchcock blonde,” author Bronwyn Cosgrave wrote in the book Made for Each Other: Fashion and the Academy Awards (Bloomsbury, 2007).

6. For all of the heat the Oscar contest drew that year, some of the best quotes came from the movie itself:

Bernie Dodd (played by William Holden): “Does your wife really want you to play this part?

Frank Elgin (played by Crosby, Kelly’s on-screen husband): “Yeah, she’s all for it.”

Bernie Dodd: “I was just wondering. The day I met her, she seemed a little difficult about terms and rather domineering, I thought.”

Frank Elgin: “She wasn’t always like that.”

Bernie Dodd: “Oh, I know, I know. They all start out as Juliets and wind up as Lady Macbeths.”

7. “The de-glamorized Grace Kelly, dressed matronly in frumpy garb, won Best Actress for playing the long-suffering wife, in a performance that I believe she was not suited for and left me scratching my head to wonder what the Academy saw that I didn't (she never got inside the intense angst of her character),” wrote reviewer Dennis Schwartz.