Saturday, October 29, 2011
Bing Crosby Portrays Priest...Again
by Bosley Crowther
AFTER all the times Bing Crosby has played a priest in films, you'd think by now he would be a Bishop or a Monsignor, at least. But no, he is still a parish pastor in Frank Tashlin's "Say One for Me," another romance of religion and show business, which came to the Paramount yesterday.
Mr. Crosby is still atmosphering informally in cassock and biretta (or just toupee) in and about the vicinity of a small Catholic church off Broadway, mixing piety and wisecracks in about equal measures and snatching brands from the burning that is going on all the time just up the street.
The principal brand that takes some snatching is a young night club impresario, entertainer and general sin-doer among the showgirls at the club. This fellow, played by Robert Wagner, is a real gone type ("know what I mean"), given to impudent indifference toward the squareness of a priest. He tees off on Father Conroy (that's our Bing, of course), accuses him of stealing his routines for an old vaudevillian and other such. Needless to say, the good father regards him dubiously.
Particularly does he do so because one of his best parishioners, a little college girl played by Debbie Reynolds, goes to work at this fellow's club. Of course, she is not a usual showgirl, she just needs money for a father who is ill, and so there is really no good reason for the burning anxiety of Father Bing. But he worries and probes the situation. This takes him to the club. This leads him to the pious business of poking his mitts into the fire.
In the process, he does score some rescues. The most obvious and delightful save he makes is that of a beat piano player who is trying to make his home in a bottle of booze. This character, played by Ray Walston, is more of Bing's vintage and type, and the two do some gratifying chumming and crooning in the war on John Barleycorn.
Father Bing also plucks from the embers a moody showgirl who has a tiny tot without the benefit of a marriage license. He gives baby and mother the sign.
But we really can't credit him with saving the impudent impresario. That job is mainly done by Miss Reynolds, who looks great in tight slacks or opera hose and also in the color and wide-screen effectively used here. It is she who really angles the young scapegrace to 2 A. M. mass (or what Father Bing calls his "late, late LATE show"). But then Bing's successes in the priesthood have usually had strong assists from Cupid's bow.
It is a pleasant show-world entertainment, this obvious "Say One for Me," full of pretty girls with shapely legs, a few song numbers (two sung by Bing) and religious images. Robert O'Brien has contributed a screen play that is loaded with slang. Broadway gags that are easily comprehended and not too much clerical sentiment. Connie Gilchrist as the priest's housekeeper has some of the cutest lines and, next to Mr. Walston, is the most solid comic in the show.
As for Bing—well, he's just about as usual, a little less lively, perhaps, a little older looking, but still casual and sincere. He'll never make Monsignor. He'll always be a parish priest, whenever he turns his collar backward, because you always sense a sport shirt underneath...
Monday, October 24, 2011
Friday, October 21, 2011
"Defendants are active participants in music piracy of the most blatant and harmful kind," the complaints state. "Specifically, defendants own and operate a worldwide distribution company in the business of selling sound recordings on vinyl LPs and CDs, motion pictures and other videos on DVDs and video games in various formats. In furtherance of that business venture, defendants, without any license or authority, have illegally sought out, imported into the United States and sold unauthorized copies of plaintiffs' sound recordings."
CD Listening Bar sells the unauthorized recordings through online retailers, and distributes its products all over the world. It also does business as Super D, Phantom Distribution, Super D/Phantom and Phantom Sound and Vision, all of which are named as defendants, as is Bruce Ogilvie, who is described as CEO, an owner of and "the dominant influence in Super D."
The copyright holders claim that CD Listening Bar "overtly claims to the public through its marketing and websites that it currently stocks 'the world's largest selection of music, movies and games' and that its stock contains 340,411 unique music and video titles of which 120,000 are U.S. CD titles, 70,000 are U.S. DVD titles and over 150,000 are non-parallel import titles from 32 countries, with additional titles coming in on a consistent basis." The plaintiff's songs are included in those thousands of titles, without authorization, they say.
"Defendants are aware that their actions of importing and selling certain Crosby audio and video recordings are not legal, and that such conduct constitutes infringement of copyright, trademark and publicity rights laws," according to the HLC complaint. "Moreover, defendants openly misrepresent to the public their authority to sell this music, falsely claiming that all of their products are 'legitimate.' Defendants also indicate that much of their music inventory is obtained through 'imports' from 32 different countries, which they misleadingly explain as 'genuine merchandise released for sale in another country ... not to be confused with bootlegs or pirated material,' thus falsely implying to their customers and the public that such titles are being legally imported and distributed in the United States.
Defendants further erroneously claim that they support all copyright laws and that they pay all appropriate mechanical licenses on their 'imports,' when in fact defendants are engaged in one of the largest operations in the world involving the sale of unauthorized musical and video titles." (Ellipsis in complaint.)
The Cole and Crosby companies say Ogilvie is causing them irreparable harm, and that he has "profited greatly" from it.
"Defendants have stolen and are profiting from the legacy built by Crosby, which plaintiff has tried vehemently to preserve and protect. Additionally, by making unauthorized products containing audio and video recordings and certain compositions of Crosby available to retailers throughout the world, defendants are permitting these recordings to be further disseminated over the Internet, and freely available to millions, in further violation of plaintiff's rights. In sum, defendants' conduct severely impairs and has the potential to destroy and/or de-value plaintiff's ability to sell, lawfully utilize and otherwise control the quality of sound recordings of Crosby. Defendants' infringing conduct with regards to plaintiff's respective rights must be stopped immediately and defendants must understand they cannot continue to run their business with complete disregard of the relevant intellectual property laws," the complaint states.
Virtually identical claims are made in the Cole complaint. Both plaintiffs are represented by Corina Maccarin with Milstein Adelman. They seek an injunction and damages for misappropriation of pre-1972 sound recordings, commercial appropriation of name and likeness, false designation of origin, description and representation, and quantum meruit. Cole's complaint demands $150,000 per infringed recording.
Nat "King" Cole, a singer and pianist, died from lung cancer in 1965, age 45. Bing Crosby died at 74 while playing a round of golf in Madrid in 1977. Neither Milstein Adelman nor Super D immediately responded to requests for comment.
Thursday, October 20, 2011
The guest cast of Going My Way was impressive. Among the many stars who appeared were Anne Francis and George Kennedy (A Man for Mary), Eddy Bracken and Harry Morgan (Like My Own Brother), Jack Warden (Not Good Enough for My Sister), Kevin McCarthy (Ask Me No Questions), Beverly Garland (A Saint for Mama), and James Whitmore (Tell Me When You Get to Heaven), just to name a few.
Fifty year after its first broadcast in 1962, Going My Way's light touch and big-hearted themes make it great entertainment for the whole family with great acting and stories that touch the soul with warmth, humor and drama, as life's inescapable situations unfold, and are resolved in surprising ways.
Timeless Media Group is releasing an 8-DVD collection of Going My Way - The Complete Series, with all 30 episodes of the 1962 program that was the ABC network's spin-off/remake of the 1944 theatrical classic. Running more than 1500 minutes, this show will be presented in the original black-and-white full screen video, with English mono audio. It will be available at general retail on December 6th, and you can pre-order it from Amazon.com right away. Cost is $49.98 SRP, and here's the just-finalized package art, straight from the studio:
Monday, October 17, 2011
My Favorite And Least Favorite Movie Priests
by Pat Archbold
There have been many movies that have priests as important characters. There are movies about saints and some of them are awesome. But my post today is about priests as characters, as men involved in a story. I was watching the excellent Tom Wilkinson as Father Moore in “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” the other day on cable. It got me to thinking about some of my favorite priests as characters and also some of my least favorite.
So for discussion purposes, I thought I would get into the who’s and whys. After all, what is a Catholic blog for if not discussing movie priests. On with it.
Let’s just get this one out of the way. Max Von Awesome (aka Sydow) as Father Merrin in the Exorcist. Max played Merrin perfectly. He flawlessly embodied Merrin with reluctance, resolution, and resignation. He knew he would likely die in this exorcism, but he went ahead with it. He conveys an aged and long earned wisdom that is doubly remarkable considering he was only 44 at the time. Max has the dubious honor of being tops on my list of the creepiest movie Jesuses, But for Merrin, Max was perfect.
This bring up a point. I like to see men cast as priests portraying priests as men. Not crazy macho or anything silly like that, just men. A couple of examples.
Pat O’Brien in “Angels with Dirty Faces.” Karl Malden in “On the Waterfront” and Ward Bond in “The Quiet Man” These were some of the manliest actors of their time. The frequently portrayed characters that were tough but with hearts of gold and that’s what we got from their priest portrayals. I wish we would see more of this in the movies.
Bing. Bing Crosby is two sides of a coin. On the one hand, Bing’s legendary charm and ease made him one of the most unforgettable screen priests of all time. On the other hand, Bing set a standard for the parish priest that was impossible to live up to. And when you watch it now, you remember that Bing was the young progressive priest. Anyway, love Bing. But I wouldn’t be surprised if some priests dislike Bing for the same reason.
Speaking about Bing, Barry Fitzgerald’s parish priest deserves honorable mention for his portrayal of Fr. Fitzgibbons. There was a lovable humanness in his character.
Now for some good and bad. Let’s start with Jeremy Irons in The Mission. I loved his character through and through and his refusal to take up arms to carry the monstrance even though it made death certain was magnificent.
And that brings us to one of my least favorite priests, Robert DeNiro. DeNiro’s acting in The Mission was very good, but his character’s choice to fight had liberation theology written all over it. If this was the only role to judge DeNiro’s screen priesthood by, he might be forgiven. But Bobby has a trifecta of bad priest roles. Remember that awful movie with Sean Penn called “We’re No Angels” where they were criminals pretending to be priests. Sorry, pretending to be dumb priests. Awful. But it gets worse, seriously worse. In Sleepers, the climax of the movie occurs when De Niro’s priest character chooses to perjure himself. No doubt about it. Bobby is a great gangster, but a bad screen priest.
Special mention must be made for Ed Norton. I like Ed Norton, but his portrayal of a priest caught in a love triangle with Jenna Elfman and Ben Stiller has to take the cake. Futuristic vampire killing priests are more believable than Ed Norton in this movie. Vampires would have made “Keeping the Faith” much better. They would have added an extra half star bring its rating to a..half star.
What are some of your favorites and least favorites...
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Bing had just completed a two-week engagement at the London Palladium on October 8, 1977. He gave one more concert on October 10 at the Conference Center in Brighton, England. On October 11, he recorded eight songs and an interview for BBC radio in the morning, along with a photo shoot that afternoon for the album jacket of his recently completed "Seasons" album.
Also on October 11, he dealt with the police, upon discovering his London flat had been broken into and robbed during his concert in Brighton. On October 12, he played 11 holes at the Cranbrook golf course in Kent (a course which he was interested in buying) before returning to his London flat for a late afternoon interview with a journalist.
Then early on the morning of Thursday, October 13, he flew from London to Madrid for a four-day recreational weekend of golf and hunting.
La Moraleja golf course is located in the La Moraleja residential complex, 8.8 kilometers (5 1/2 miles) from Spain's capital along the Madrid-Burgos national highway. The club was founded in 1975 and originally comprised an 18-hole golf course, a smaller itinerary of nine par-3 holes, and a putting green and practice ground, all designed and supervised by the famous American golfer Jack Nicklaus.
Bing wasted no time upon arriving at La Moraleja on October 13 in getting out on the links. he was paired with the World (at the time) and Spanish Gold Champion Manuel Pinero. Their opponents were Cesar de Zulueta, President of La Moraleja, and Valentin Barrios. Pinero and Bing lost to de Zulueta and Barrios for that match, with Bing carding a 92, but they were confident the 14th would be their "lucky day."
The manager of the golf course, Valentin Barrios, lunched with Bing, Manuel Pinero and Cesar de Zulueta prior to the golf match on Friday, October 14. For Bing's last meal, he ordered only a cup of chicken broth, a ham-lettuce-tomato sandwhich, and a glass of water.
He said that most of the conversation during that lunch centered around Saturday's planned partridge hunt. Bing was very particular about the type of rifle he wanted to use for the shoot. Several different types were shown to him, but Bing would only settle for a 20-gauge. It had to be this or nothing!
Bing took this partridge hunt seriously; he even bought a $700 wardrobe for it, including a jacket, pants, hat, leather lace-up boots, thick handwoven socks and a full range of accessories. Sadly, he would never get a chance to wear them. Following the partridge hunt, Bing had planned on flying to the island of Majorca for more golf before returning to California. He was planning to meet with record producer Ken Barnes upon his return home to routine songs for a planned duet album with Bob Hope.
Following lunch, Bing spoke to journalists in the clubhouse in what turned out to be his final interview. He was in good spirits and reminisced freely about his long show business experience. He said the move High Society, in which he starred with Frank Sinatra, Grace Kelly, and Louis Armstrong was "the most satisfying one of my career." He described his trip to Spain as a test of his recovery from the back injury he had suffered March 3 (a ruptured disc caused by a 20-foot fall from a Pasadena, CA stage). He went on to say he was looking forward to teaming again with Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour in The Road to the Fountain of Youth.
Valentin Barrios recalled Bing's final round of golf for Francisco: "He played very well, and I know he enjoyed it very much. He told us he was feeling much better after his fall in California a few months earlier-and better still for being out on this beautiful golf course. He told me about some of his golf games as we played, about games with great pros like Ben Hogan, Gene Sarazen, Sam Snead, Gene Littler, Arnold Palmer, and Jack Nicklaus. He told a lot of little stories about each of them.
"Jack Nicklaus was his favorite, and I remember him telling me they planned a father and son match between them in a few weeks. Mr. Crosby said he was glad to have known all these great golfers. He was in good spirits; we joked about his white sun hat and old red cardigan. He was very relaxed, even at the second to last hole, when the score was even and he hit one into the sand trap. But he never lost his cool-still humming and whistling at the last hole.
"I remember he scored an 85; he and Manuel won by one stroke because of Bing's handicap, which was a 13, I believe. Bing collected his ten dollar prize before headed back to the clubhouse. I remember, too, that he had a new set of Ben Hogan golf clubs for the round, but still used an ancient Hogan putter, which must've been his favorite."
Mr. Barrios then offered a never before told story, recalling that last song Bing ever sang: "There were some construction workers building a new house just off from the 9th hole. The workers recognized Bing and motioned for him to come over to them. Bing was very happy to be recognized and walked over to the men, who asked for a song. The last song Bing Crosby sand, which I remember vividly, was 'Strangers In the Night.'"
It is unclear whether Bing voluntarily chose to sing this song or if he asked the workers what they would like to hear and they chose it.
"It's been widely quoted that Bing's last words were 'That was a great game of golf, fellas' or something to that effect. Well, he did say that in the golf cart heading up the hill, but afterwards, while we were walking towards the clubhouse entrance-just seconds before his collapse-he spoke his real last words to me. He turned and said, 'Let's go have a Coca-Cola.'
"The next minute (around 6:30 p.m.), he fell face down on the red-brick path, landing on my foot when he fell. We turned him over; he was very pale and had a large red bruise on his forehead from where he hit the ground. He died at my feet. I knew he was dead right away-died instantly.
"We carried him into the clubhouse and summoned the house doctor (Dr. Laiseca). We called for an ambulance, just to make it look like he died en route to the hospital and not at the golf course. We all knew he was gone before the ambulance ever arrived.
"Dr. Laiseca showed me how to massage his heart while he prepared an adrenalin injection, which was put directly into his heart. I messaged his heart for over half an hour, but nothing could be done. He was dead-on-arrival at the hospital. (Reports at the time say it was the Red Cross Hospital, but Mr. Silvela and Mr. Barrios believe he was taken to the Rena Victoria, as it is the closest to La Moraleja.)
"I couldn't believe it. I never would've imagined he would have a heart attack. He showed no signs of being tired or in pain or anything. All at once, he dropped dead. I'll never forget it."
On October 14th - the music died...
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
From playing drums for the high school’s jazz band, Crosby went on to Gonzaga University where he fell in with a local dance combo called the Dizzy Seven. That combo played high-school dances and illicit bathtub-gin-fueled parties for a few months before Crosby was lured away by the Musicaladers, another local band with a pianist/bandleader, Al Rinker, whose older sister, Mildred Rinker, happened to be a sales-clerk at Bailey’s Music Shop. And it was there that the guys were exposed to all the hot records by such jazz favorites as the original Dixieland Band, McKinney’s Cotton Pickers, the Memphis Five, and even Vic Meyer’s dance band from Seattle.
For the next couple years the Musicaladers performed at the Manito Park Social Club, the Casino Theater, the Pekin Café, Lareida’s Dance Pavilion, and then at Spokane’s Clemmer Theater where a new manager soon dropped the band in favor of just a “novelty” duo: Rinker on piano and Crosby singing, dancing, and jiving.
That “Vo-do-de-o Stuff”
Meanwhile, Rinker’s sister -- who’d adopted the stage name of “Mildred Bailey” -- had become a minor sensation in Los Angeles where she “was singing the blues nightly in the city’s most popular speakeasy, the Silver Grill.” Like Crosby, she too had shown an early aptitude for music, playing the family piano throughout her childhood. But then, after their mother passed away, she was sent to live with an aunt in Seattle. There as a teenager she earned an income playing in silent-movie houses and demonstrating sheet music for customers at Woolworth’s Department Store. Upon returning to Spokane (and while working at Baileys) she got her first gig playing at the town’s hippest speakeasy, Charlie Dale’s, and soon headed off to pursue a quest for fame and fortune in Hollywood.
Inspired by Bailey’s easy success, Crosby and Rinker left Spokane on October 15, 1925, in an old 1916 Model-T Ford and with high hopes of following her path to success. But their path to Hollywood included a brief visit to the coast. According to Crosby: “Our first stop was Seattle. We wanted to hear Jackie Souders’ band at the Butler Hotel. We’d heard him on the radio and we’d met him when he played in Spokane.” Upon arrival in Seattle the boys were introduced to both Souder and, apparently, another top band-leader Vic Meyers (who was often based at the town’s swankiest speakeasy, the Rose Room of the Butler Hotel). Various conflicting accounts suggest that both witnessed the duo’s audition.
Crosby himself once recalled that it Souders who “gave us an audition and then put us on at the Butler over a week end when the place was filled with University of Washington kids. The songs and arrangements we did were mostly fast-rhythm songs and I sang a couple of solos. ... We got a good reception, and we could have stayed there a while, working a night or two a week, but we had heading south on our minds.”
Interestingly, both Souders' and Meyers' recollections of that day differed from that seemingly rosy account by the young singer whose mumbly vocal approach would later be hailed as the “crooner” style. A reporter with The Seattle Times later interviewed the band-leaders and wrote that Meyers witnessed the fateful audition when the unknown “jug-eared young baritone auditioned for a soloist’s job. He had a nice bouncy style and Meyers was impressed. But John Savage, hotel proprietor, took Meyers aside and said: "Can the kid sing a ballad?" Meyers asked "the kid" to sing a ballad. It came out with the same bouncy boo-boo-boo sound. Savage shook his head in a "no-dice" motion.” Souders concurred saying “We all thought they were pretty good, but the hotel owner, the late John E. Savage, said he didn’t like all that "vo-do-de-o stuff" and wouldn’t hire them.”
Either way -- hired or fired -- the duo gassed up their jalopy and continued southbound. Legend holds that they also played for a week at a Tacoma theater and “in several speakeasies at Portland and San Francisco en route” -- finally making it nearly to Hollywood before their engine blew up and Mildred had to drive out towards Bakersfield, California, to rescue them. Wanting to introduce them to the bright lights and big city action of Hollywood, Bailey first took her brother and his musical partner to the Silver Grill where they watched her perform, and then she worked to get them an audition with the Fanchon and Marco theatrical company who booked a circuit of nearly 40 West Coast theaters. Hired, the duo worked that circuit a few times and then were signed to appear in the Morrisey Music Hall Revue, a show created and financed by a highly successful former-Seattle-based song-writer, Arthur Freed.
It was on October 18, 1926 -- just a year after leaving Spokane -- that the guys recorded their debut disc (“I’ve Got The Girl”) with Don Clarke and his Biltmore Hotel Orchestra for a big-time label, Columbia Records. Soon after, they were discovered by a New York band-leader, Paul “The King of Jazz” Whiteman -- and with Harry Barris joining the act as a second pianist, the trio became Paul Whiteman’s Rhythm Boys. The following year Whiteman and the boys cut a record (“Wistful and Blue” / “Pretty Lips”) that became a smash hit, which led to Crosby cutting a solo disc, 1927’s “Muddy Water.”
In 1929, Rinker was able to return all the favors by helping out his sister when she threw a house party. He invited his boss, and when Whiteman heard Bailey sing a song he hired her on the spot. And with that hiring, Whiteman became the first national-level orchestra leader to feature a female vocalist -- a historic moment that soon caused “other dance bands in the copycat fashion of show business” to add “female singers too.” That same year -- and now billed as “That Princess of Rhythm” -- Bailey cut her debut recording, “What Kind O’ Man Is You,” for Columbia.
It was in 1930 -- and just after concluding a string of concerts at Seattle’s Civic Auditorium, the Olympic Hotel’s Spanish Ballroom, and in Portland at Cole McElroy’s Spanish Ballroom and the KOIN radio studios in the New Heathman Hotel -- that Whiteman cut the Rhythm Boys loose. He’d begun to feel disenchanted with his new stars -- especially Crosby, who he thought goofed-off too much. Whiteman criticized the duo for always chasing girls and wanting to play golf. That the guys had recently started hanging out in Harlem with black stars like Cab Calloway and Duke Ellington -- and reports that Crosby had taken up reefer smoking with Louis Armstrong -- probably didn’t help matters.
Then, right in the middle of filming The King of Jazz movie, Crosby got sentenced to 30 days in jail on a drunk-driving charge, missed his shot at making a solo appearance in the film, and angered his boss. When Whiteman headed back to New York, the Rhythm Boys were left behind.
Meanwhile, in 1932 Bailey debuted “Ol’ Rockin’ Chair’s Got Me” on a Chicago-based live broadcast of Whiteman’s weekly Old Gold radio show, and the tune sparked a public response that was immediate and overwhelming. A studio recording of the tune became such a huge hit that Bailey was ever after known as the “Rockin’ Chair Lady.” The record also made significant jazz history as “the first recording by a 'girl singer' with a big band, an innovation that would set the pattern for the swing era.” Bailey also gained attention by recording tunes with the same top players who backed Billie Holiday’s classic sessions -- and plenty of people took notice of her trail-blazing ways when she began fronting an all-black combo, Mildred Bailey and Her Oxford Browns. Bailey also married jazzman, Red Norvo, they became known as “Mr. and Mrs. Swing,” and his combo backed her on a series of fine hits prior to Bailey’s death in 1951.
Since then, Bailey has been acknowledged by music historians variously as: “one of the most dynamic musicians of the swing era,” “a fine singer ... with perfect intonation and pitch. Her interpretation of lyrics on ballads was spellbinding, and she was superb at up-tempo tunes, where her knowledge of harmonics was utilized to sing variations on the melodic theme that were years ahead of her time,” a stylistic innovator who had “directly influenced the vocal style of legendary singers such as Bing Crosby, Tony Bennett and Billie Holiday,” “the first non-black female singer to be accepted in jazz and the first female big-band vocalist,” and with “the possible exception of Billie Holiday (who could even be considered Bailey's own discovery), Bailey was the most consistent and prolific female jazz singer of the ‘30s. ... No understanding of pop and jazz singing can be considered complete without factoring in Mildred Bailey. She is one of the essential missing links of American music.”
And the saga of Crosby and the Rinker siblings is one of the great musical “missing links” in Pacific Northwest jazz history...
Friday, October 7, 2011
I love doing these photos of the day posts because it gives me the opportunity to share some great pictures. The Hollywood air brushed pics are beautiful, but what I like best are some of the candid shots. Since Bing Crosby is my favorite entertainer, I really enjoy some of these unusual shots you might not be used to seeing. From drinking a beer to hunting with friend Phil Harris, Bing knew how to live...
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Film music buffs cite Jerry Goldsmith’s score for Chinatown as one of the all-time best, but relatively few people know who played the memorably moody trumpet lead. It was the same man you hear on the soundtrack of An American in Paris and countless other MGM musicals. Uan Rasey died last week at the age of 90.
His eyesight was impaired in recent years, but that didn’t stop him; nothing could. He’d already spent most of his life in a wheelchair as a result of polio. Looking back on his childhood, he said, simply, “There was a limit to what I could do; I couldn’t run out and play football, so I played trumpet.”
Bearing a name his mother liked because it was unique, Uan grew up in Montana and took up the instrument at—
—a young age. He told me, “I was lucky because I didn’t know, I thought everybody could play high Gs. I came down here [to Los Angeles] and nobody could read. High C was a high note. I heard Cootie Williams or other guys play on the radio in Montana, and imitated them.”
In Los Angeles his reputation spread pretty quickly, and he started playing with big bands while he was still a teenager. This led to work on radio shows and in movie studio orchestras. Ultimately, he was wooed by MGM to become a full-time staff musician there. He was flattered, but still had his priorities: Uan was crazy about track and field, and wouldn’t think of missing a Saturday meet, let alone the Olympic games. He turned down MGM’s offer multiple times and finally said, “I want to have it listed [in my contract] that I want to go to the Olympics in ’52, and I don’t want to work on Saturdays… If you write that down, I’ll come out…” They capitulated, and he joined the prestigious orchestra in 1949, just in time to participate in MGM’s golden age of musicals.
He even worked on the MGM cartoons, and had nice words to say about the man who wrote the scores for Tom & Jerry and the Tex Avery shorts, Scott Bradley, calling him “a good writer…did a good job and kept you on your toes, you know?” I said the scores sounded awfully energetic. “They sure are,” he replied. “They’re fun to play. We had a good time doing it. Nice guy, too. [And with conductors] you used to say, ‘He’s a nice guy, let’s go help him.’ ”
On the other hand, the legendary composer Bernard Herrmann was “always so unthankful. It’s his attitude, you know; the music was everything. He even did, one time, one trumpet and sixteen bassoons, where there were contrabassoons, regular bassoons… and it never was good enough for him. He finally did Taxi Driver, remember that picture? And he [wouldn’t] conduct. Finally, I said something because he just sat there. Jack Hayes was the orchestrator so Jack said, ‘Let’s just start playing, you know, let’s do something,’ so we just did it and we played cues, got through it. He sat in the booth and said very little. I guess we broke for lunch and came back and played later on, the jazz scene. So-called jazz. (You know, I play ersatz jazz; I’m not a great jazz player, not at all, but I play what the leader wants. You know, you’re there to please them.) So he came out and thanked us, thanked me especially. ‘Thank you, Uan.’ Uan—he used my name! My God, after all these years, maybe sixteen years… and he died that night. First time he ever thanked us. Ironic, at least.”
I love hearing Uan playing on Bing Crosby’s late 1940s radio shows, when at the end of each episode his soaring trumpet sings out Crosby’s theme, “When the Blue of the Night Meets the Gold of the Day.” He rarely received credit on screen, but Crosby acknowledged him on one broadcast after an especially lovely solo.
Film music aficionados will always be grateful for the beautiful sounds he made.
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
By Mike Prager
The Spokesman-Review PrintEmail
If you go on the historic home tour in the Gonzaga University area is from noon to 5 p.m. Tickets are $15 and available at 329 E. Sinto Ave. during the tour. Children 12 and under are free.
A highlight will be a stop at the Bing Crosby House where the crooner spent a large part of his boyhood.
The house was completed in 1913 by Crosby’s father and two uncles, and the family lived there until it was sold in 1936.
The tour is a fundraiser for Spokane Preservation Advocates, which uses proceeds to support historic projects.
Crosby’s fame as a singer and Hollywood film star continues to interest people nearly 34 years after his death.
While the Craftsman-style Crosby House, 508 E. Sharp Ave., is used for a pair of GU administrative programs, it is also something of a tourist attraction in Spokane.
GU psychology major Sara Galgalo, of Spokane, greets visitors from as far away as New Zealand and Denmark, she said.
Just last week, three people stopped in while on a trip from Washington, D.C.
“I get a few young people” as visitors, Galgalo said. “But normally it’s the older generation.”
The interior of the main floor is largely the same as it was when the Crosbys built the house. It has extensive woodwork done in the “curly fir” style that was popular in the period. The floors are a fine white oak. A mantel and bookshelves along the west wall have cutouts that are characteristic of the Craftsman era. The original quarry tile in front of the fireplace remains intact, although the brick on the fireplace itself has been painted white.
The GU alumni association acquired the Crosby House in 1978. The university took possession when the alumni association last year moved to the Huetter House, 503 E. Sharp Ave.
Mac McCandless, of GU’s plant services department, said the university wants to maintain the historical integrity of the house.
Harry Lillis Crosby was born in Tacoma on May 3, 1903, one of seven children.
Crosby acquired the nickname Bing as a boy from a comic newspaper feature called the Bingville Bugle with a leading character named Bingo.
In 1921, Crosby joined a six-piece combo called The Musicaladers, playing at dances, parties and a restaurant on Riverside Avenue.
According to GU, the manager of the Clemmer Theater, now the Bing Crosby Theater, hired Crosby and Al Rinker for live shows before movies for several months in 1925.
That fall, Crosby and Rinker left Spokane for Los Angeles, where they joined the vaudeville circuit, a move that led to Crosby’s stardom. By 1926, they were recording with the Paul Whiteman Orchestra.
Monday, October 3, 2011
With his famous bass-baritone voice, Bing Crosby was one of the best-selling recording artists of the 20th century. Although somewhat forgotten, his movie career is equally impressive. Bing Crosby's film career started with the 1930 film The King of Jazz. His first big break came in 1932 when he appeared in The Big Broadcast, which was the sixth most successful movie of that year. He appeared on the annual top ten box office stars for the first time in 1934. He would appear on that list a total of fifteen times in his career. From 1944 to 1948, Crosby was the number one star, for a record five years in a row.
In 1940 Bing Crosby and Bob Hope starred in the very successful Road to Singapore. The comedy team of Crosby/Hope became very popular. They made six very successful sequels over the next twenty-two years. Having conquered singing and comedy, Crosby started concentrating on serious acting. He won the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1944 for the blockbuster hit Going My Way. He received another nomination the next year for The Bells of St. Mary's.
In 1954, he received his final nomination for Best Actor the Country Girl co-starring Grace Kelly. She won the Oscar playing Bing's wife. In 1966 he appeared in his last movie, the remake of the classic western Stagecoach. There was talk of making Road to the Fountain of Youth, but Bing Crosby died in 1977 before he could make that movie.
Here is a break down of Bing's movies and how much they made: (adjusted to 2011 box office - number in millions)
#1 White Christmas (1954) 456.30
#2 The Bells of St. Mary's (1945) 411.80
#3 Going My Way (1944) 355.40
#4 Welcome Stranger (1947) 288.60
#5 Blue Skies (1946) 284.60
#6 The Country Girl (1954) 247.20
#7 Road to Morocco (1942) 229.00
#8 Holiday Inn (1942) 229.00
#9 Road to Utopia (1946) 225.00
#10 Road to Rio (1947) 213.10
#11 High Society (1956) 183.60
#12 Dixie (1943) 181.30
#13 The Emperor Waltz (1948) 174.90
#14 Here Come the Waves (1944) 128.80
#15 A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1949) 121.60
#16 Road to Zanzibar (1941) 120.80
#17 Say One For Me (1959) 113.70
#18 Top o' the Morning (1949) 105.70
#19 Waikiki Wedding (1937) 101.00
#20 Road to Singapore (1940) 100.20
#21 Just For You (1952) 95.40
#22 Road to Bali (1952) 95.40
#23 Here Comes the Groom (1951) 89.00
#24 Little Boy Lost (1953) 87.40
#25 Riding High (1950) 85.90
#26 Rhythm on the Range (1936) 84.30
#27 Mr. Music (1950) 83.50
#28 Robin and the 7 Hoods (1964) 83.50
#29 Road to Hong Kong (1962) 80.30
#30 Dr. Rhythm (1938) 71.60
#31 Anything Goes (1956) 66.80
#32 Double or Nothing (1937) 64.40
#33 Stagecoach (1966) 63.60
#34 Man on Fire (1957) 54.90
#35 She Loves Me Not (1934) 54.10
#36 High Time (1960) 48.50
#37 East Side of Heaven (1939) 44.50
#38 The Big Broadcast (1932) 43.70
#39 We're Not Dreaming (1934) 42.10
#40 Sing You Sinners (1938) 38.20
#41 The Star Maker (1939) 37.40
#42 Here Is My Heart (1934) 35.00
#43 Paris Honeymoon (1939) 32.60
#44 Going Hollywood (1933) 29.40
#45 If I Had My Way (1940) 25.40
#46 The King of Jazz (1930) 25.40
#47 Rhythm on the River (1940) 23.80
#48 Mississippi (1935) 22.30
#49 College Humor (1933) 21.50
#50 Anything Goes (1936) 19.90
#51 Pennies from Heaven (1936) 19.10
#52 Too Much Harmony (1933) (1933) 18.30
#53 Two For Tonight (1935) 18.30
#54 Birth of the Blues (1940) 18.30
Saturday, October 1, 2011
I think this might be the first CD issue of Gary Crosby. I think it is worth getting...
GARY CROSBY: BELTS THE BLUES - THE HAPPY BACHELOR
The eldest of Bing Crosby's sons, Gary, became, almost inevitably, part of the entertainment business from his early teens, performing for quite a few years with considerable success as an actor and singer. Unfortunately, from the late 60s his career began to decline due to personal problems and never recovered.
In the late 50s, while he was still enjoying the limelight, he recorded these two albums, singing with swing, conviction and the benefit of some exceptionally crisp and driving jazz backing. On the first, 'G.C. Belts the Blues,' an eleven piece band conducted and arranged by Marty Paich provides the swinging framework to Crosby's interpretations of well known, bluesy tunes. On the second, 'The Happy Bachelor,' arranger Bunny Botkin uses a quartet with guitar, with the occasional addition of a trumpet or a vibist to make it a quintet. The group's support adds zest to a collection of pleasant tunes, while Crosby's charm and personality reveal an artist of style and individuality.
What's Your Story, Morning Glory?
In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning
Breeze (Blow My Baby Back To Me)
After The Lights Go Down Low
St. Louis Blues
Miss You So
I'm Gonna Move To The Outskirts Of Town
Blues In The Night
The Happy Bachelor
Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall
This Little Girl Of Mine
Side By Side
You Won't Be Satisfied Until You Break My Heart
I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm
I'll Never Be Free
Ole Buttermilk Sky
I'm Beginning To See The Light