Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Here is a very interesting review of THE EMPEROR WALTZ from 1948 which appeared in the New York Times on June 18, 1948...

A New Bing Film
by Bosley Crowther

Imagine our old friend Bing Crosby as a Yankee at Franz Joseph's court, peddling a newfangled phonograph and wooing a countess on the side, and you have a thumbnail synopsis of Paramount's "The Emperor Waltz," the light-hearted musical farce-romance which came to the Music Hall yesterday. Picture it all in Technicolor, with the courtiers in flashing uniforms, the ladies in elegant dresses and Bing in an old straw hat, and you have a fair comprehension of the prospect and atmosphere. For "The Emperor Waltz" is a picture which can be characterized in a few words, but which is much more entertaining if you see it from beginning to end.

Not that there's anything staggering in the way of music or plot in this spoof which Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder produced, directed and wrote. A dash of "The Prisoner of Zenda," a twist of old Viennese "corn" and plenty of any "Road"-show nonsense and you have a composite of the plot. Likewise, three musical numbers are the extent of the score—and only one of these items is unfamiliar and new.

But, even so, Brackett and Wilder have made up with casualness and charm—and with a great deal of clever sight-humor—for the meagerness of the idea. And Bing has provided the substance which the farcical bubble may lack. As the corn-fed American salesman whose fox terrier dog runs afoul of the countess' fancy French poodle—and thereby inspires the romance—our boy is his usual delightful and completely unceremonious self, baffled by Hapsburg pomposity and candid in his confidence in love.

Nothing he says is likely to be mistaken for deep philosophy but it all has the sound of observation which lightens the weariness of life. If it's boop-boop-adoing "Santa Lucia" while sculling a Tyrolean lake boat, with the off-hand explanation, "I used to travel for a Venetian-blind company," or merely calling his sweetheart "Honey Countess" in a thoroughly natural way, Bing has the air of a fellow to whom the artificial is a bore.

And Joan Fontaine as the countess makes a beautiful counterpart for his open and genial directness. Icy and lofty at the start, she melts with magnificent acquiescence to his bland importunities of love. Maybe you wouldn't think so, but she turns in a sweet job of farce and frets for her poodle's torn emotions just as gravely as she does for her own. Likewise, Richard Haydn is cute as the emperor and Roland Culver makes a suavely snobbish courtier, while Sig Ruman is grand as the emperor's vet.

Best of the musical numbers is "Friendly Mountains," a yodel song which Bing ripples over his tonsils while walking down an alpine road, to be answered by magical echoes and a swarm of slap-dancers in the dells. It's a charming, melodious ditty and as cute in its staging as a cuckoo clock. Also amusing is a pick-up of the oldie, "I Kiss Your Hand, Madame," which is used to put the bashful canines—and also the countess—in the mood. Roberta Jonay and Bert Prival skip a lively dance to it, too. And the final romantic number, which Bing sings, "The Kiss in Your Eyes," is a pleasantly sentimental re-write on Heuberger's "Chambre Separée."

Set against gorgeous mountain scenery and richly palatial rooms, "The Emperor Waltz" is a project which should turn the blue Danube to twinkling gold...


Monday, March 28, 2011


Coming soon in the series of excellent Bing Crosby issues from Sepia Records is "Through The Years vol.7". The series covers Bing's recordings in chronological order.

This edition covers Bing's work from 1954, which was a banner year for Crosby. Bing recorded the legendary album "A Musical Autobiography" as well as remained one of Decca records biggest stars - 20 years after signing with the label.

The following titles are covered on the CD:

Date: 21 April 1954
From A Musical Autobiography
1 MG3671 Learn To Croon (Arthur Johnston, Sam Coslow)
2 MG3671 Thanks (Arthur Johnston, Sam Coslow)
3 MG3669 Muddy Water (Peter De Rose, Harry Richman, Jo Trent)
4 MG3669 Mississippi Mud (Harry Barris, James Cavanaugh)
5 MG3669 My Kinda Love (Louis Alter, Jo Trent)
6 MG3669 I Surrender, Dear (Harry Barris, Gordon Clifford,
Bing Crosby)

Date: 28 April 1954
7 L7652-A Oh Tell Me Why (Anon)
Bing is overdubbed on himself to give the impression of a male
quartet. Games with a tape recorder!

Date: 30 April 1954
8 L8648-A If You Love Me (Really Love Me) (Marguerite
Monnot, Geoffrey Parsons, Edith Piaf)

Date: 3 May 1954 From A Musical Autobiography
9 MG3671 Down The Old Ox Road (Arthur Johnston, Sam
10 MG3671 Black Moonlight (Arthur Johnston, Sam Coslow)
11 MG3671 The Day You Came Along (Arthur Johnston, Sam
12 MG3671 After Sundown (Nacio Herb Brown, Arthur Freed)
13 MG3671 Temptation (Nacio Herb Brown, Arthur Freed)
14 MG3671 Love Thy Neighbour (Mack Gordon, Harry Revel)
15 MG3671 May I? (Mack Gordon, Harry Revel)
16 MG3671 Love In Bloom (Ralph Rainger, Leo Robin)
17 MG3673 I Love You Truly (Carrie Jacobs Bond)
18 MG3673 June In January (Ralph Rainger, Leo Robin)
19 MG3673 Love Is Just Around The Corner (Lewis E Gensler,
Leo Robin)
20 MG3673 It's Easy To Remember (Lorenz Hart, Richard
21 MG3673 I Wished On The Moon (Dorothy Parker, Ralph
22 MG3673 Silent Night, Holy Night (Franz Xavier Gruber,
Joseph Mohr)
23 MG3673 I'm An Old Cowhand (Johnny Mercer)
24 MG3673 Song Of The Islands (Charles E King)
25 MG3673 Sweet Leilani (Harry Owens)
26 MG3673 Blue Hawaii (Ralph Rainger, Leo Robin)

Date: 4 May 1954 White Christmas film titles
27 L7649-1 What Can You Do With A General? (Irving Berlin)
28 L7650-1 Count Your Blessings Instead Of Sheep (Irving

Date: 21 May 1954
29 L7704 Liza (Gus Kahn, George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin)
30 L7705-1 In The Good Old Summertime (George Evans, Ren

Date: 16 June 1954 From A Musical Autobiography
31 MG3669 Out Of Nowhere (John W Green, Edward Heyman)
32 MG3669 Stardust (Hoagy Carmichael, Mitchell Parrish)
33 MG3673 Soon (Lorenz Hart, Richard Rodgers)
34 MG3673 The One Rose (Del Lyon, Lani Mc Intire)
35 MG3675 There's A Goldmine In The Sky (Charles F Kenny,
Nick A Kenny)
36 MG3675 My Heart Is Taking Lessons (Johnny Burke, James V

You can order this excellent CD: HERE

Friday, March 25, 2011


The Liverpool Empire’s traditional Christmas pantomime is to be replaced with a musical starring singer and TV presenter Aled Jones.

Irving Berlin’s White Christmas will have a 20-date run instead of the theatre’s planned Snow White production.

Empire bosses today assured customers the decision was not due to poor ticket sales.

Theatre-goers who have already bought tickets for Snow White will receive a full refund and discount on tickets for White Christmas.

Aled Jones will return to the lead role of Bob Wallace, played by Bing Crosby in the 1954 movie version.

Former Royal Ballet principal Adam Cooper, who danced the lead role in Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake in the 2000 film Billy Elliot, will play Phil Davis, the role held by Danny Kaye.

Stephen Rees, Liverpool Empire general manager, said: “As with all programming decisions, our aim is to bring the very best touring productions to the people of Merseyside and White Christmas, being produced by the company behind the recent touring and West End production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, certainly fits the bill.

“The show’s recent winter seasons have received consistently superb audience feedback and everyone at the Empire felt this show was one we wanted to bring to our customers over the Christmas period.”

White Christmas marks a return to traditional theatre shows after three consecutive years of pantomime at the Empire, which have featured US stars Pamela Anderson and Henry Winkler.

An Empire spokesperson said the decision to replace Snow White was not made in relation to ticket sales which were going well.

In 2007, White Christmas broke box office records at the Edinburgh Playhouse and Wales Millennium Centre.

Tickets go on general sale on Tuesday, March 29.


Monday, March 21, 2011


The name of Bob Deflores will be known to the avid Crosby fan. I found this interesting bio of Bob on the internet:

Bob DeFlores grew up surrounded by the entertainment community. He was born in San Francisco and raised in Hollywood, where his parents performed in movies, radio, and nightclubs. His aunt Iris appeared with Johnny Weissmuller in the Tarzan series, and his aunt Gladys worked as a secretary for Harold Lloyd.

Bob began collecting and restoring films in 1953. He used to do it as a hobby. Eventually, he quit his job as art director for a Minneapolis architectural firm and began searching for and preserving films full time. Over the past 50 years he has located and preserved hundreds of films from 1900 to 1950: newsreels, comedies, sports footage, features, and more. His quest to find rare film footage can be likened to the work of a detective. His sleuthing has led him to the only known prints of Outside the Law (1921, with Lon Chaney), Fatal Marriage (original title Enoch Arden, 1916, with Lillian Gish), and Song O' My Heart (1930, with tenor John McCormack).

Bob's special interest is early jazz and big band films. One of his favorite singers is Bing Crosby, so Bob collected many Crosby films including such rare prints as Please (1933), The Fifth Freedom (1951), and Here is My Heart (1934). His collection efforts were rewarded in 1976 when he donated Swing with Bing for showing at the Bing Crosby Golf Tournament in Pebble Beach. Bing had lost his copy in a fire and had not seen the 1937 film in many years. When he spotted his father and brother in the film, Bing was deeply moved.

In 1977, Bing invited Bob to visit his home and Bob gladly accepted. Bob showed Bing many rare, nearly lost, Crosby films and arranged to give him copies. In return, Bing let Bob borrow and copy anything from his film vault. Bob chose rare films like The Road to Home which is not listed in Bing Crosby filmographies and which most Crosby fans have never even heard of, much less seen.

Bob has also assisted many other celebrities in completing their film libraries, including Ginger Rogers, Eleanor Powell, Shirley Temple, Tex Beneke, Buddy Rogers, the family of W.C. Fields, Loretta Young, Frankie Carle, and Phil Harris. In a letter thanking him for unearthing Here is My Heart, a film she had been told no longer existed, Kitty Carlisle Hart said, "After 53 years, I thought I'd have to die and go to heaven to see it."

Bob's other professional experiences are many and varied. He has put together film programs for hundreds of organizations across the United States. He has helped many television stations with programming and has assisted on innumerable documentaries, tributes, and television specials. These include Minneapolis in 19 Minutes, the A&E Biography and History series, and Ken Burns' Jazz and Unforgiveable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson. Bob has worked with CBS and NBC and supplies the Grammy Awards and the Kennedy Center Honors with rare footage.

As a supporter of good causes, Bob has helped with fundraising campaigns for the University of Kansas, Normandale Community College, and the Judy Garland Museum. He has lectured on film preservation at schools and even toured the nation's colleges with the grandson of W.C. Fields. In 2000, the Normandale Community College Foundation honored Bob by selecting him to receive their annual Community Connection award. This award recognizes all he has done over the years to connect generations through the history of film.


Saturday, March 19, 2011


Along with guitarist Eddie Lang, I think Joe Venuti was one of Bing's favorite jazz men. Venuti worked with Bing during the Paul Whiteman years, and Bing used him a lot on his radio shows of the 1940s.

Joe Venuti claimed to have been born aboard a ship as his parents emigrated from Italy, though many believe he was simply born in Philadelphia on September 16, 1903. Later in life, he said he was born in Italy in 1896 and that he came to the U.S. in 1906.

Considered the father of jazz violin, he pioneered the use of string instruments in jazz along with the guitarist Eddie Lang, a childhood friend of his. Through the 1920s and early 1930s, Venuti and Lang made many recordings, as leader and as featured soloists. He and Lang became so well known for their 'hot' violin and guitar solos that on many commercial dance recordings they were hired do 12 or 24 bar duos towards the end of otherwise stock dance arrangements. In 1926, Venuti and Lang started recording for the OKeh label as a duet, followed by "Blue Four" combinations. Venuti also recorded a number of larger, more commercial dance records for OKeh under the name New Yorkers.

He worked with Benny Goodman, the Dorsey Brothers, Bing Crosby, Bix Beiderbecke, Jack Teagarden, the Boswell Sisters and most of the other important white jazz and semi-jazz figures of the late 1920s and early 1930s. Venuti and Lang recorded a series of milestone jazz records for the OKeh label during the 1920s. However, following Lang's early death in 1933, his career began to wane, though he continued performing through the 1930s, recording a series of excellent commercial dance records (usually containing a Venuti violin solo) for the dime store labels, OKeh and Columbia, as well as the occasional jazz small group sessions. He was also a strong early influence on western swing players like Cecil Brower, not to mention the fact that Lang and Venuti were the primary influences of Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli.
Venuti was also a legendary practical joker. According to one source, every Christmas he sent Wingy Manone, a one-armed trumpet player, the same gift—one cufflink. He is said to have chewed up a violin he borrowed from bandleader Paul Whiteman, when still on stage after his own performance with Whiteman's band had finished.

After a period of relative obscurity in the 1940s and 1950s, Venuti played violin and other instruments with Jack Statham at the Desert Inn Hotel in Las Vegas. Statham headed several musical groups that played at the Desert Inn from late 1961 until 1965, including a Dixieland combo. Venuti was with him during that time, and was active with the Las Vegas Symphony Orchestra during the 1960s. He was 'rediscovered' in the late 1960s. In the 1970s, he established a musical relationship with tenor saxophonist Zoot Sims that resulted in three recordings. He also recorded an entire album with country-jazz musicians including mandolinist Jethro Burns (of Homer & Jethro), pedal steel guitarist Curly Chalker and former Bob Wills sideman and guitarist Eldon Shamblin.

Venuti died in Seattle, Washington on August 14, 1978...

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Currently the Bing Crosby Media Archive is looking for writers who want to spread the word about the greatest singer of all time Bing Crosby. If you have an interesting article you'd like to write, we would be more than happy to publish it here.

We are even willing to add pictures and/or video to the article. If you would like to contribute an article, please send them or your ideas to:

Thank You!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Bing Crosby and Al Rinker had been together in a Jazz band in Spokane, Washington while in college. The band was so popular that the two dropped out of college and drove Rinker's Model T to Los Angeles where Rinker's sister, Mildred Bailey, who was a Jazz singer was working. Shortly after their arrival in Los Angeles they landed a gig on the vaudeville circuit, as a vocal act. Some members of Paul Whiteman's Orchestra, caught their act and recommended them to Whiteman who hired them in October of 1926.

While waiting to join Whiteman's Orchestra they made their first record "I've Got the Girl" with Don Clark's Orchestra ( (a former member of Whiteman's Orchestra) at The Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles (506 South Grand Ave.). Bing and Al then joined the Whiteman Orchestra in Chicago, where they made their first records with Whiteman. At first, things didn't go well for Crosby and Rinker. Whiteman's audience didn't like them and the theatre manager where they were playing at the time asked that they be dropped from the act, but rather than drop them, Whiteman added a young singer and song writer, Harry Barris to the act. The act was billed as the Rhythm Boys. The trio sang in three part harmony with both Rinker and Barris playing piano. Barris wrote a song called "Mississippi Mud" which became a hit with the Whiteman Orchesta and featured Bix Beiderbecke on cornet.

After awhile, Whiteman and Crosby were not getting along. Bing drank a lot had landed in jail a couple of times. He missed some of the filming of Whiteman's movie "King Of Jazz," after being involved in an auto accident while driving drunk. Whiteman pulled some strings and got Bing released from the jail. Crosby was escorted in handcuffs to the studio by a police officer whenever he was scheduled to appear in the film. After the movie was completed in 1930, Whiteman fired them. The Rhythm Boys then joined the Gus Arnheim Orchestra at the Cocoanut Grove in Los Angeles. Bing was featured more and more as a soloist, and in 1931, Bing recorded his first solo hit, I Surrender, Dear with Gus Arnheim and his Cocoanut Grove Orchestra.

Radio broadcasts from the Cocoanut Grove made Bing a star, but his wild ways caused him to start missing performances, and Crosby's pay was docked. The Rhythm Boys quit playing at the club, but the local musicians' union banned them from playing, which caused the Rhythm Boys to call it quits. Bing's solo career soared after the Rhythm Boys broke up. Crosby went on to become one of the biggest stars of Twentieth century. The Rhythm Boys performed only one more time, in 1943, on a radio broadcast called Paul Whiteman Presents...


Sunday, March 13, 2011


Ensemble vocals have been a big part of the sound of popular music in America for many years. In the early nineteen forties this style became a readily identifiable feature of some of the most popular songs of the day. Frank Sinatra with the Pied Pipers fronting the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra; Ray Eberle with The Modernaires with the Glen Miller Orchestra; and Dick Haymes with the Song Spinners were three of the best known and most popular of these groups. The fourth ensemble was a bit different and most unique - both parts of the group were stars of the biggest magnitude in their own right, and combined on record they were unmatched in style and tuneful excellence. They were Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters, and their recorded combination made some of the most enjoyable music of the 1940s.

Crosby had been a huge star attraction on records since the late twenties, in the early thirties he transferred that star power to the movie screens, and he came into his own as a dominant force in radio in the 1940s. The Andrews Sisters emerged in the late thirties as a top musical act and branched out into motion pictures at Universal in the early forties.(For an absolutely superb reading on the Sisters, see William Ruhlmann's "Three Sides To Every Story" in the Jan 20, 1995 issue of Goldmine). The Andrews Sisters recorded with a number of musicians including Guy Lombardo, Dick Haymes, Jimmy Dorsey, Sammy Kay, Carmen Miranda, Ernest Tubb, Les Paul, Burl Ives, and Danny Kaye. However their most tuneful and memorable vocal combination was with Bing Crosby, the most influential vocalist up until that time in the early forties when the collaboration began.

The first record of many (all on the Decca label) by this most heralded combination was in 1939 when they recorded "Ciribiribin" and "Yodeling Jive". The record reached as high as number four on the hit parade and carried into 1940. It was three years before they got another chance to vocalize together in the recording studio, and in late 1943, Bing and the Andrews did a cover of Al Dexter's big number one hit "Pistol Packin' Mama". The flip side was a feel good propaganda tune called "Victory Polka"and they made it to the number two position. It was then apparent that this was certainly a combination that had great potential as record sellers.They got together two months later to record the Christmas pair "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" and "Jingle Bells".

The next year the group recorded the Louis Jordan tune "Is You Is, Or Is You Ain't Ma' Baby" and was backed by another propaganda piece called "There'll Be A Hot Time In The Town of Berlin". This was a huge two sided hit with "Is You Is" getting to number two and "Hot Time" making it all the way to the top spot on the charts and remaining there for six weeks. The third huge hit by the ensemble in the year 1944 was another number one seller, "Don't Fence Me In" from the film "Hollywood Canteen". The last chorus of this tune is the quintessential sound of this collaboration, with impeccable four part harmony that really makes the record a treasure. (I will always remember this song and its references to the West, and a later Andrews Sisters tune "The Lady From 29 Palms" because for the few years that those records were popular, I lived in Southern California out near 29 Palms). "The Three Caballeros" the title tune from the Disney film was the other side and also did fairly well on the best seller charts.

Into the year 1945 it seemed the combination could do no wrong. They next recorded Johnny Mercer's "Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate The Positive" from the film "Here Come The Waves" and it was another number two hit record for Decca. The flip side for the record was "There's A Fellow In Poughkeepsie". As they say, the hits just kept on coming. "Along The Navajo Trail" a lovely tune with Western thoughts went to number two, and the reverse side was "Good Good Good". While Bing and the Andrews Sisters went their separate ways for a while from mid 1945, Decca Records re-released two previous hits "Pistol Packin' Mama" and "Don't Fence Me In" in early 1946. Later in the year the ensemble was back in the recording studio with a great tune from the Broadway show "Call Me Mister" called "South America Take It Away" and the great forties post war tune "Route Sixty Six". This record also reached the number two position on the charts. It was the last time the group would produce this big a seller, but there was still much great music ahead.

In the year 1947, a much covered song from the film "Variety Girl" was a top ten record for Bing and the Andrews Sisters - "Tallahassee" and the flip side was "Go West Young Man". Soon after, Dick Haymes joined Bing in accompanying the Sisters on two songs from the Broadway show "Annie Get Your Gun" - There's No Business Like Show Business" and "Anything You Can Do". Despite the amount of talent on the record it barely charted. The same dearth of sales greeted the two part recording of "The Freedom Train" and the re-release of "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" and "Jingle Bells". In early 1948 Bing and the sisters recorded "Apalachicola, Fla." and "You Don't Have To Know The Language" from the film "Road To Rio" with little success, and the same was true for the next 1948 record "160 Acres" and "At The Flying W".

In 1949 "Betsy" and "Wedding Day" did not chart, but "Have I Told You Lately That I Love You" and "Quicksilver" did much better with "Quicksilver" reaching number four and remaining on the best sellers list for four months making it their biggest hit in four years. The change in fortune did not last as "Ask Me No Questions" and "Lock Stock And Barrel", and "High On The List" and "Life Is So Peculiar" did not chart at all. At the end of the year two Christmas records were released by Decca - Twelve Days of Christmas"/ "Here Comes Santa Claus" and "Poppa Santa Claus" / "Mele Kalikimaka". In particular, "Here Comes Santa Claus" has a wonderful last chorus where the four voices blend in perfect harmony and make for a masterful song.

By 1951 the ensemble had been recording for twelve years, and the magic was still there as they did a cover of Guy Mitchell's "Sparrow In The Treetop" which was a solid top ten seller that remained on the charts for four months. However the magic as it was, was short lived. The vocal collaboration never again hit the charts. The other releases of 1951 did not fair well - "Black Ball Ferry Line" / "The Yodeling Ghost" and "Betsy" / "Wedding Day" did not appear on the charts nor did the new releases the following year - "I'll Si Si Ya in Bahia" and "The Live Oak Tree", "Cool Water" and "South Rampart Street Parade", and re-releases of two Christmas records which filled the schedule. This concluded the recording history of this most remarkable group of performers. Both went on to continued successes of varying degrees and Decca would re-release some of their work from time to time.

Through most of the nineteen forties and into the fifties, the sound of the vocal ensemble consisting of Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters were consistent hitmakers and creators of many memorable musical moments. They remained unequaled as a collaborative vocal unit and produced one of the defining ingredients of the sound of the war and post war era...

UPDATE: Sadly Patty Andrews, the last surviving Andrews Sister, passed away on Janaury 30, 2013. Words can not express the great loss that this is to the music community. You can read more about it here:


Thursday, March 10, 2011


Fans of Bing Crosby are lucky to have the 60 plus movies that he made in his long association with Hollywood. Diehard fans of the crooner even get excited when a recording by Bing is played in a movie, whether as a major focus or just in the background. This has not just happened since Bing died in early as 1954 Bing's recording of "To See You Is Too Love You" was featured in the Hitchcock classic REAR WINDOW. Here are some of the other movies with Bing's audio appearances:

PAPER MOON (1973) Peter Bogdanovitch's film relies solely on commercial recordings and radio programmes to provide background music for this film which is set in the U.S.A. in the 1930s. Bing's recording of "Just One More Chance" is featured.

THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH (1976) In this Bing can be heard singing "True Love". At the film's end Candy Clark, playing David Bowie's girlfriend, goes to an apartment in a Father Christmas outfit. For about forty seconds Bing's Capitol recording is played on the soundtrack as Bowie and Clark move around the room exchanging a little dialogue.

THE BRINK'S JOB (1978) This film, based on fact and about a bank robbery, begins in 1944 and in an early scene set in Boston the American Decca recording of "Accentuate the Positive", by Bing and the Andrews Sisters is heard. This serves to indicate the era without resorting to a caption or explanatory dialogue. At the end of the film the same recording is heard as the gang of robbers depicted in the film ascend the courthouse steps for a trial prior to imprisonment.

PENNIES FROM HEAVEN (1982) The 36 years separating this version from the original Crosby movie will prevent any confusion as to what you are paying to see. This 1982 version uses recordings from the 1930s to advance the storyline. The film's setting is the thirties with the actors miming to 78s from that decade. Bing's contribution is "Did You Ever See a Dream Walking". A soundtrack album to tie in with the film's release featured Steve Martin singing the title song.

FRANCES (1982) Bing and the Andrews Sisters are heard singing "Love is so Terrific" as background music in this screen biography of Bing's one time leading lady Frances Farmer. This song is taken from the Philco Radio Time broadcast of 31st March, 1948.

A CHRISTMAS STORY (1983) This warm family film is set in an Indiana suburb in the 1940s. It takes a nostalgic look at middle-America and concentrates on a young boy's view of Christmas. It shows how the child reacts to the gift of an air rifle, which he wants as a present. Bing's Decca 78s are used to give a seasonal early 1940's atmosphere to the film by the playing of "Jingle Bells", "It's Beginning to Look Like Christmas" and "Santa Claus is Coming To Town". Bob Clark directed this Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer release.

TOUGH GUYS (1986) This film was very enjoyable despite getting panned by critics. Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas tried to live up to their performances in Gunfight at the O.K. Corral made thirty years earlier. Tough Guys depicts them as two ex-cons released from prison and still spiritually belonging to the 1950s. Bing sings "Don't Get Around Much Anymore" on the soundtrack. It is Crosby's 1970's recording made for Concord although Burt Lancaster is shown placing a 78 on the record turntable.
RADIO DAYS (1987) Woody Allens's affectionate tribute to the golden days of American radio crams loads of music from the 1930s and 1940s onto the nostalgia provoking soundtrack. Bing's contribution is part of the Decca recording of "Piston Packin' Mama" sung with the Andrews Sisters.

SOMEONE TO LOVE (1987) Director Henry Jaglom again selected a Crosby recording for one of his films. Jaglom also played the film's leading role as a film maker. The reviewer for the "Monthly Film Bulletin" wrote: "the use of evocative songs like "Long Ago and Far Away" conjure a nostalgic yearning for romantic times and distant places". It is Bing's Decca recording of that song which is used to help perfectly capture the mood of one of the film's introspective moments.

NATIONAL LAMPOON'S CHRISTMAS VACATION (1989) This film charts the ongoing misfortunes of the Griswold family. Chevy Chase is again as cast as Clark W. Griswold, jnr., for whom disaster lom round every corner. In a scene set just before Chrismas Day he gazes wistfully into the distance and a sequence illustrates his dreams: a large swimming pool on a hot summer's day surrounded by bikini clad girls. The musical item that blends Christmas sentiment with the warm outdoors happens to be the Hawaiian song "Mele Kalikimaka", sung by Bing and the Andrews Sisters. A further nod to the Crosby influence on Christmas comes at Griswold's darkest hour when the family guests pack to leave the disaster stricken house. Cheve Chase bars their way, grits his teeth and says, "Nobody leaves. This is going to be the happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap danced with Danny Kaye".
AVALON (1990) The film tells in flashback the family fortunes of the Krichinsky family from 1914 to the mid-60s. Avalon is a suburb of Baltimore and is the backdrop for mapping out the family fortunes from grandfather Sam Krichinsky downwards. Bing's soundtrack contribution is "Silver Bells" which he duets with Carol Richards. Other musical items include Jolson's "Anniversary Song", Buddy Clark singing "I'll Dance at Your Wedding" and "Racing With the Moon" from Vaughan Monroe.

HUDSON HAWK (1991) This American comedy thriller was the first major financial disaster of the 1990s as far as Hollywood was concerned. Bing's recording of "Swinging on a Star" plays a major part in the plot. Willis as the Hudson Hawk of the title plans to steal a Leonardo de Vinci from a New York auction house. He estimates the heist will take the length of time it takes to sing "Swinging on a Star". Does he pull it off? Do you care?

ENEMY OF THE STATE (1998) This is an intelligent thriller set in the U.S.A. towards the end of the twentieth century. The film's underlying theme of this Touchstone Picture is the extent of technology's ability to invade privacy. Will Smith plays an innocent citizen sucked into a web of political corruption. His financial background is distorted and his marriage almost destroyed. The film's final scene provides a happy ending. The credits roll. Bing's 1947 Decca recording of "They Can't Take That Away From Me" is played as the audience leaves the cinema with Crosby's re-assuring voice reminding them it was only a film.

HOLLYWOOD ENDING (2001) Directed by Woody Allen, this film sees his return to comedy form with a subject that many would not find amusing. The plot is about an Academy Award winning director who becomes blind. Allen avoids original scores for his movies. He frequently uses recordings from the 1930s and 1940s. In view of the setting of Hollywood Ending it is not surprising that he makes use of Bing's recording of "Going Hollywood".

BAD SANTA (2003) One of the few Christmas season films for adults has Billy Bob Thornton playing department store Santa each year. He chooses a different store annually, insults the kids who sit on his knee and robs the stores after closing time. Disney’s Buena Vista company had a financial hand in this 15 rated un-family film. About twenty minutes before the end of the film there is a scene which takes place on Christmas Eve. Prior to carrying out another robbery Billy Bob is assisting in dressing a Christmas tree and hanging Christmas stockings. On the film’s soundtrack we hear Bing singing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. Almost all of the 1962 Warner Bros. recording is used.

NANNY MCPHEE AND THE BIG BANG (2010) Hollywood likes to make sequels where a previous success makes a follow up picture easy to market. Hence Nanny McPhee now having to contend with a big bang. This is a film for all the family and an early sequence depicts three children cleaning up the farm in readiness for their two cousins coming to stay. The accompanying soundtrack features Bing singing "The Best Things in Life are Free". .It is the first use in a film of a Ken Barnes session recording. Bing was in London to record the song in 1975. The film was originally titled Nanny McPhee Returns on its American release.


Friday, March 4, 2011


Bing Crosby and Dean Martin were nearly from different generations. (Bing was born in 1903 and Dino was born in 1917). However, together they made crooning what it was for years. Martin admitted that Bing was a great influence his career, and Bing had a lot of admiration for Dino. They appeared together a few times in films, on television, and in recordings. However, it was not enough in my opinion. At Reprise, there was a proposed duet album called "Bing, Dino, And Dixie", but it unfortunately never happened. Luckily we have some great memories of the kings of crooning together such as these great photos...

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


LOS ANGELES (CN) - UMG Recordings claims HLC Properties, "a partnership controlled by Crosby's second wife, Kathryn Crosby," violated a 1943 agreement giving Decca/UMG exclusive rights to Crosby's Christmas songs, including "White Christmas."

UMG claims that HLC has "clear knowledge of the re-recording restrictions in the 1943 agreement," but released its Christmas album anyway, containing some of Crosby's most popular songs, including "Adeste Fidelis," "The Christmas Song," "Silent Night," and other chestnuts.

Crosby's version of the Irving Berlin tune "White Christmas" has been called the top-selling single of all time, with more than 50 million discs sold, and the top-selling song of all time, with more than 100 million sold, as singles and albums.

UMG says HLC breached contract and breached faith and fair dealing by releasing its own, competing version of the Christmas tunes. It wants distribution of HLC's "The Crosby Christmas Sessions" enjoined, and damages. It is represented in Superior Court by Steven Marenberg with Irell & Manella.

Kathryn Crosby is not named as a party.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Our excellent guest reviewer Bruce Kogan is back reviewing a long forgotten Bing film "Paris Honeymoon"...

Bing Crosby plays Lucky Lawton a cowboy millionaire who struck gold on his land and would be considered nouveau riche. He's about to marry a Countess played by Shirley Ross, but a hitch has gone through with her divorce. They both come over to Paris to try and straighten it out.

While there Crosby buys a castle from Akim Tamiroff in some unknown Balkan town called Pushtalnik. It's also time for Pushtalnik's Rose Festival and the Rose Queen traditionally resides in the castle. That would be Franciska Gaal and she arrives and Crosby has to get rid of her before Ross joins him in wedlock.

Now if you're already thinking this plot is silly, it is. But that's the kind of thing that was done in the 1930s in Hollywood. And it's the kind of story that Bing Crosby was often asked to carry on the strength of his popularity and charisma. He does this admirably with assist from some nice songs by Leo Robin and Ralph Rainger.

Robin and Rainger were one hot songwriting team in Hollywood at that time. They were fresh off an Oscar in 1938 for Thanks for the Memory which became the beloved theme song of Crosby's Road picture partner Bob Hope. Not often remembered is that Hope introduced this song with Shirley Ross and also recorded it with her.

Shirley Ross was at home equally on Broadway as well as Hollywood, she probably shuttled back and forth so she never got really established in either. A good singer with a pleasant voice, the woman was destined to be a footnote in Hollywood history. She also introduced Blue Moon in Manhattan Melodrama, albeit with a different lyric and entitled The Bad in Every Man. Larry Hart changed the lyric and the song became a smash, but not for Shirley Ross.

Akim Tamiroff was a great addition to any film he was in. Here he plays Peter Karloca, mayor of Pushtalnik. Karloca spent some time in the United States, proudly studying our political methods in Chicago and adapting them to Pushtalnik. He and Ben Blue who plays the village idiot who turns the table on Tamiroff in the end, have some great scenes together and separately.

Robin and Rainger's score consists of The Funny Old Hills, a cowboy ballad that is a personal favorite of mine, I Have Eyes which he sings as a duet via telephone with Ross, You're A Sweet Little Headache which Bing expresses his feeling for Gaal tongue in cheek and finally Joobalai which is one of the few huge production numbers in 30s Bing Crosby film. Nice, but boy what Busby Berkeley could have done here.

Gaal was a continental cabaret entertainer who Cecil B. DeMille discovered and tried to make a star, just like his rival producer Sam Goldwyn tried with Anna Sten. Paris Honeymoon was one of only two other films she made before returning to Europe just in time for World War II.

There's another number, sort of. One night Bing and butler Edward Everett Horton try to spook Gaal from the castle. Bing plays a disembodied head who is rolled down the dark hallway singing, I Ain't Got Nobody for a couple of lines. When Decca released the Bing's Hollywood record series, they included a great jazz recording that Crosby made with Woody Herman's band a couple of years after Paris Honeymoon was out.

I can't forget Edward Everett Horton who's prissy stuffiness provided a great foil for many stars. At that time primarily known for his work with Fred Astaire, Horton and Bing work well together and it's a pity they didn't do more.

A few months after Paris Honeymoon was released, Europe was at war and that mythical village of Pushtalnik would have been caught up in it. But we Americans like our escapist entertainment and Paris Honeymoon certainly fills that bill...