Friday, September 27, 2013

THE BING CROSBY FREE SPEECH FAN FORUM


There is a forum, hidden among other sites on the internet called The Bing Crosby Free Speech Fan Forum. It is a site available to spotlight the greatest entertainer of all time. What are your favorite movies or records? Did you ever meet Bing Crosby?

Please feel free to share your experiences with other people that enjoy Bing Crosby as well as his contemporaries. Bing Crosby guru and fan Steve Fay started the forum back in 2010. Serious Bing Crosby fans needed a place to freely discuss the delights and complexities related to one of the greatest film and recording artists of our time. Personal attacks will not be tolerated, but facts, weblinks, individual personal opinion labeled as opinion, and civil argument are welcomed. Stop in and participate in the conversation!

Check it out: THE BING CROSBY FREE SPEECH FAN FORUM

Monday, September 23, 2013

SPOTLIGHT ON THE CHARIOTEERS

When I was younger and listening to old broadcasts of Bing Crosby's radio show, I always fast forwarded the songs that were performed by a group called The Charioteers. Listening years later now, I have finally realized what a great group they were, and they should be remembered up there with the greats like The Mills Brothers and The Ink Spots as well.
The Charioteers were a black gospel group formed in Ohio in 1930 by Billy Williams (1910-72). By 1937 the group consisted of Williams (lead tenor), Eddie Jackson (second tenor), Ira Williams (baritone), Howard Daniel (bass) and James Sherman (piano). They recorded mostly negro spirituals for the Vocalion label until they signed with Columbia in 1940. Columbia wanted to remake the group into a pop rival to Decca's Ink Spots. Soon the Charioteers were in the pop music charts with their recording of Russ Morgan's 1940 song "So Long." Although they never achieved the phenomenal success of the Ink Spots, the Charioteers' gospel-pop sound did produce a total of 7 hits of their own in the 1940s and two more in support of other artists.


The Charioteers became regulars on Bing Crosby's Kraft Music Hall during the fall 1942 season. They stayed with Bing on the radio throughout most of the next 5 years, including the first season of the Philco show. Although the Charioteers did not commercially record with Bing (they were under contract to different record companies), they did record with other top vocalists, and produced two top 30 hits with Sinatra ("Don't Forget Tomorrow Night") and Buddy Clark ("Now is the Hour"). Their seven solo hits include "So Long" (1940), "On the Boardwalk in Atlantic City" (1946), "Open the Door Richard" (1947), "Chi-Baba" (1947), "What Did He Say?" (1948), "Look-A-There Ain't She Pretty" (1948), and "A Kiss and a Rose" (1949). During this same period the Ink Spots produced more than 3 dozen top 30 hits.

In 1950 Billy Williams was asked to form a group to perform regularly on TV in Sid Caesar's Your Show of Shows. The TV producers thought the Charioteers were too old. So Williams left the Charioteers and formed The Billy Williams Quartet. The Charioteers sans Williams continued to perform throughout most of the 1950s but without their previous chart success. The group disbanded in 1957. Williams eventually became a solo artist and was the first in-person guest on American Bandstand. Williams died in Chicago on Oct. 17, 1972. The group never rose to the heights of the Mills Brothers or Ink Spots, but their recordings and appearances did a lot for African-American acts, and they were pioneers in their field...


SOURCE

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

ANOTHER BING CD

I don't have many details on this CD, but it looks like it could be interesting. Release date is November 19, 2013.  It is being offered on Amazon...


"This CD Features the great Bing Crosby (he had three hundred and forty entries in the charts between 1931 and 1954) performing selections specially recorded for the Armed Forces Radio Service with The Andrews Sisters, Trudy Erwin, The Charioteers Eugene Baird accompanied by John Scott Trotter And His Orchestra. Plus four numbers taken from his popular series Philco Radio Time which also featured Dinah Shore, Ken Carpenter and The Rhythmaires."

SOURCE

BELLS OF ST. MARY'S ON BLU-RAY

It is good to see another Bing film on the latest newer medium Blu-Ray. I am not sure if there are any special features on this issue and or if it will be released on DVD...

Olive Films have revealed that they are planning to bring to Blu-ray Leo McCarey's The Bells of St. Mary's (1945), starring Bing Crosby, Ingrid Bergman, and Henry Travers. The release will be available for purchase in November.

Witty, heartwarming and utterly charming, The Bells of Saint Mary's delivers all the entertainment of its predecessor, the Academy Award-winning Best Picture (1944), Going My Way. Bing Crosby recreates his Oscar-winning (Best Actor) role as parish priest Father O'Malley, who is sent to revive the financially ailing parochial school. The easy-going O'Malley is immediately at odds with no-nonsense Sister Benedict (Ingrid Bergman in a Golden Globe-winning performance) on how to educate children. Beyond their delightful battle of wits lies a bigger problem. The skinflint businessman next door (Henry Travers, It's A Wonderful Life) wants St. Mary's condemned. Only a miracle can save it now. How a devilish situation finds a heavenly solution remains to be seen in this captivating family classic that was nominated for eight Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Actress.

SOURCE

Friday, September 13, 2013

HOWARD CROSBY AND BING'S IRISH ROOTS

The nephew of legendary crooner Bing Crosby has said the singer was always "enormously proud" of his Irish roots.

Howard Crosby (above) was speaking ahead of a concert in which he was performing in honour of the bi-centenary of the founder of St Vincent de Paul, Frederic Ozanam. "The Irish were second-class citizens in America for the better part of 100 years," he said. "But when Bing Crosby (right) openly acknowledged and celebrated his Irish ancestry . . . it went from being something you might have been ashamed of, to something that was cool."

The charity concert was held last week in the National Concert Hall.

Also singing was 'X Factor' contestant Mary Byrne (above). In 1995, Mary was struggling with her finances and received help from the charity. "I always said if I could give back a little I would," she said...

SOURCE

Monday, September 9, 2013

100TH ANNIVERSARY OF BING'S BOYHOOD HOME


Celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Bing Crosby's Boyhood Home, 508 E. Sharp Ave., Saturday, October 26, 2013; 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. To celebrate this home's 100th anniversary, the Advocates of the Bing Crosby Theater will be hosting an open house and cake during Gonzaga's Fall Family Weekend.

This event is free and open to the public. In July 1913, Harry and Catherine Crosby moved with their six children (No. 7 on the way) into the nine-room, two-story home, Bing Crosby's father, had the house built to accommodate his large family. Catherine had purchased the property for $1 from the Pioneer Educational Society, a Jesuit organization that owned much land around Gonzaga. Numerous Catholic families built their homes in this neighborhood, which became known as "the Holy Land" or "the Little Vatican."

The house served as the Crosby family's home for 23 years, including when Bing attended Gonzaga High School and Gonzaga University (1914-24). The C. P. Higgins family purchased the home from the Crosby family in 1936 for $3,600, and owned it until 1978. The Gonzaga Alumni Association purchased the house in 1980. The Crosby Alumni House was used for alumni events with staff offices upstairs unitl 2010, when the Alumni Association moved to the Heutter Mansion across the street. Afterwards, the Crosby House was used for office space for a couple of departments.

SOURCE

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

GUEST REVIEWER: HERE IS MY HEART

Here is another excellent review from our guest reviewer Bruce Kogan. I am anxious to read what he has to say about Here Is My Heart - it was pratically a lost film until it was recently issued on DVD...

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