Wednesday, September 4, 2013
GUEST REVIEWER: HERE IS MY HEART
This film had been thought of as lost for about half a century when apparently Kathryn Crosby must have been rummaging through some closets and announced that Bing had a copy of this formerly lost film of his. It was restored and back in the early 1990s I saw the newly restored version with my friend Scott Barton and hosting the film was its co-star, Kitty Carlisle. It was a great afternoon.
And the film was well worth saving. Songwriters Leo Robin and Ralph Rainger gave Crosby, It's June In January and With Every Breath I Take to sing and Robin teamed up with Lewis Gensler for Love Is Just Around the Corner. All three songs were good selling records for Bing and a particular favorite of mine has always been With Every Breath I Take. He sang these a few times during the film both solo and as duets with Carlisle.
The records incidentally were the first movie songs and almost the first songs Crosby recorded for the brand new Decca record label. Although Decca signed many artists, Crosby was their number one artist for 20 years. Decca and Crosby were virtually synonymous.
No acting stretch here in terms of character. Crosby plays a rich crooner. Jokes about his wealth were a staple in Bob Hope's repertoire, although Hope did pretty good in that department as well. In 1934 Crosby was accumulating his fortune, but he wasn't near the point where as Hope once said, "he doesn't pay taxes, he just calls up the Treasury and asks how much they need."
Like many rich people and some not so rich Bing was collecting his toys in this film and he had one pistol in a matched set of dueling pistols that once belonged to John Paul Jones. Bing wants to get the set and donate them to the Naval Academy. Problem is that the other one belongs to Kitty Carlisle who is an exiled Russian princess living in Monte Carlo with her retinue which consists of Roland Young, Alison Skipworth and Reginald Owen. Essentially these people live off her selling her possessions and they're getting fewer and fewer.
So Bing goes off to Monte Carlo meets Carlisle and the fun begins. A standard criticism I have of Crosby's films is that Paramount shot them on the cheap, especially his musical numbers. It would have been great if Paramount had actually shot the thing in Monte Carlo, but to be fair, no studio in Hollywood would have gone those lengths in 1934. Twenty years later Paramount did go to Monte Carlo for a movie and the result was To Catch A Thief. Here Is My Hear would have been as special as that film had they done that and with color to boot.
This was also the first film Crosby did with William Frawley who appeared in several of his films. Frawley was one of film land's great misanthropic alcoholics and by all accounts not a nice man to know. Crosby and a lot of Hollywood gave up on him, until Desi Arnaz saved him from oblivion and gave him a fresh career as Fred Mertz.
Kitty Carlisle said that Crosby was a difficult man to know for her. He came to the studio, did his business and left. If he had his druthers, Bing would have been out on the golf course. But she enjoyed the two films she did with him. When I saw Here Is My Heart it was playing with Murder At the Vanities and she had not much good to say about her leading man Carl Brisson in that one.
One ironic tragedy. The film centered around Crosby trying to acquire antique dueling pistols. Crosby's crooning rival Russ Columbo was killed by an antique dueling pistol that summer around the time Here Is My Heart would have been in the theaters. A year before Columbo had visited Bing on the set of We're Not Dressing where Crosby's co- star was Carole Lombard who was linked to Columbo at the time.
Here Is My Heart was well worth saving. I guess we should all be grateful to Kathryn Crosby for doing her spring cleaning...
BRUCE'S RATING: 7 OUT OF 10
MY RATING: 7 OUT OF 10