Monday, July 6, 2020

FLASHBACK: 1950


It was the day America’s favourite crooner wowed the crowds at the home of golf and needed a police escort to escape. Bing Crosby played in the British Amateur Golf Tournament on May 21 1950 under his real name, Harry.

The match play clash with local builder James Wilson and the world-famous singer and actor at St Andrews resulted in a media avalanche....


Monday, June 29, 2020

BING ON FILM: LITTLE BOY LOST - PART TWO

By 1953, Hollywood was ready to expose some of the horrors of war, and this movie really showed how lives were destroyed by the Nazis. The film Little Boy Lost was adapted from the book of the same name by Marganhita Laski. She originally sold the rights to actor John Mills, but he sold the rights then to Paramount Studios. The author was worried that the role that she created would be ruined by having an American singer play the title role, but after she saw the movie, she was extremely happy with the way Bing Crosby portrayed the title character. 

This movie Bing made at a tough part of his life. Urged by his ailing wife Dixie and her doctors, Bing traveled to Paris in September of 1952 to film the movie. In France Bing worked a little over a month on the film before going home to be with Dixie. Bing was not fully aware of how sick Dixie was. Dixie, weakened by cancer, met Bing at the train station. However, the next day she slipped into a coma and died five days later. This marked a dark time for Bing, but even though he filmed most of Little Boy Lost already, he still had some reshoots to do. He also had pivotal scene to film with Claude Dauphin, where Dauphin makes Bing’s character listen to how his wife in the movie was murdered by the Nazis. Everyone on the set was worried how Bing was going to film the scene after his own wife passing away. Reportedly Bing got through the scene in one take, but after the scene was done Bing excused himself to his trailer, and he remained in there the rest of the day. While I can not imagine what Bing was thinking as he filmed the movie, his own personal tragedy added to the emotion of what his character was going through.

This role for Bing was different than any other movie role to date, but his superb acting should not overshadow the performance of Christian Fourcade as the orphaned boy. Bing’s character could not believe at first that the boy could be his son, because the boy was sickly and meek – but Christian Fourcade not only conveyed that weakness but brought strength to the little boy’s character. As a boy, probably the same age as the character, I was a non-athletic kid with not many friends who lived a lonely life like the boy, so I have always felt a sense of kinship to the boy, even though I was not an orphan. Nicole Maurey, as Bing’s wife, was not in the movie long, but her and Bing definitely had a great chemistry. Bing enjoyed working with Nicole so much that almost a decade later he made sure she would be cast as his love interest in 1960’s High Time. The acting in the Little Boy Lost in general is top notch.

Even though the film was a drama, there was some music in the movie. Johnny Burke and Jimmy Van Heusen wrote most of the score. They wrote two French-styled songs “A Propos De Rien” and Cela M’Est EGal”, but the standout song for me was the song “The Magic Window” which he sang to the boy while they were bonding at the zoo. It’s slight song, but a song that has always stuck with me through the years. The movie also included a cute version of “The Dark Town Strutter’s Ball” which Nicole and Bing sing together in French as they are falling in love. I wish Bing would have recorded the song, but he never did except in 1962 for one of his sing-along albums.
 



The critics seemed to like the film, and it had its New York premiere on September 21, 1953. The following day Bosley Crowther of The New York Times wrote:

“…here Mr. Crosby is playing a straight dramatic role in a picture of deep emotional content and genuinely tragic, overtones. Except for two or three song numbers that are worked in consistently, there are few other points of contact with the bright and chipper Bingle of old. And yet it must be said for Mr. Crosby that he manages to convey a strong sense of real emotional torment in a tragically wracked character and that he serves as a credible buffer in a candidly heart-socking film..."


I watched this film as a young boy in the mid-1980s, feeling much like the little boy at the orphanage, but now over thirty years later I am viewing the film as a married man with two beautiful children, one being a son, and I can not fathom what Bing Crosby’s character was going through trying to find his son. It is a horror I would never want to face. Knowing now that Bing’s wife Dixie was dying during the making of the movie, makes Bing’s acting even more remarkable in the movie. It is a shame that this film has never been officially released on VHS, let alone DVD, but if you can find a copy to view, this is required Bing Crosby watching. It is a movie that will remain in your mind a long time after watching it.

MY RATING: 10 OUT OF 10


Wednesday, June 17, 2020

BING ON FILM: LITTLE BOY LOST - PART ONE

I had the pleasure of watching for the first time in over a decade Bing Crosby’s tense drama Little Boy Lost (1953), and even though the film is dark, it brought back many memories of the movie for me. Little Boy Lost was one of the first Bing movies that I had on VHS in the mid-1980s. To capture the music, I did not have any records of the songs Bing recorded for the film, so I had to put a microphone up to the television speaker and record the songs that way. Wow, how things have changed in 30 years! Digging out my copy of the film, I have a 4th generation of the movie on DVD, so I had to search for a DVD player that would play it in the house. Some of my DVD players refused to even play the disc! However, I got the movie going, and the film is as amazing as I remember it being. The whole movie in general is sad, but in the end, there was hope and optimism.

The movie starts during the beginnings of World War II. Bing plays an American journalist who lives in Paris. He meets a beautiful radio performer (played by Nicole Maurey), and they fall in love and have a little boy. Just as the boy is born the Nazis invade Holland, and it is only a matter of time before France will fall. Bing tries to get his wife out of Paris, but he is called up to join the Allied soldiers. France falls to the Nazis, and Bing is unable to return to Paris and his beautiful family. He still hears his wife on the radio, but one day her broadcasts abruptly stop. Bing later finds out that his beloved wife was murdered by the Nazis for being a part of the French resistance during the war. As you can see this is no happy-go-lucky Bing Crosby film! Bing really never accepts that his wife is dead, but he begins his search for his son who was placed in an orphanage after his mother’s murder. Bing goes to the orphanage where he meets the Mother Superior (played wonderfully by Gabrielle Dorziat), and she hesitates to get Bing’s hopes up but lets Bing meet a boy that could be his son. His potential son was played by Christian Fourcade, making his American film debut and deserving an award for his striking portrayal of the boy. Bing is frustrated, because he can not figure out if the boy is his son or not. Bing tries to stimulate the boy’s mind by singing songs from when he was a baby, spraying the boy’s mother’s old perfume that she wore, and even going to the apartment where they all first lived at before the war tore them apart. At the apartment the boy amazingly remembers things, but he remembers things incorrectly. 


Bing goes on to learn that the boy was told why Bing was there, so the boy tells Bing what he wants to hear so he can be adopted. Meanwhile Bing’s friend (played by Claude Dauphin), who knew Bing and his wife during the war years, finally makes Bing come to terms with his wife’s death by telling Bing her final moments, which included being tortured and beat by the Nazis before being shot. You can see Bing’s character is tortured, and he has never recovered. When his wife was pregnant, she had had a nightmare where she sees Bing all alone and hears shrieking. Bing brushes off the dream, but fast forward to the present time and Bing is all alone at the train station, a man without a direction or purpose, and he hears the shrieking of a train whistle which his wife described from her nightmare. It is at that point that Bing needs to move on and live his life. He finds a stuffed dog that his son had had called “Binky”, and he sends it to the orphanage to give to the boy. Bing returns to the orphanage just as the boy is opening it, and the boy exclaims “It’s Binky”, which proves that he was actually Bing’s son all along...

TO BE CONTINUED...


Monday, June 1, 2020

SEASONS: A PERSONAL REVIEW

To start out the month of June, here is another great article from rising Bing Crosby guru, ModernBingFan0377...

I am here again for another review, today's being Bing's masterful last album, Seasons. I might review Bing's last BBC sessions at one point, but as of now it will just be Seasons. I will give each song a description and review then an overall review at the end.

Seasons - A really nice song sung by Bing with a great vocal performance. This song is like Sinatra's 'It Was A Very Good Year" in many ways, although the funny thing is that this song had the original French melody with lyrics added for Bing, whereas Bing's equivalent of 'My Way' (That's What Life Is All About) was written in English and had English writers which is the opposite of the Frank equivalents.

On The Very First Day Of The Year - A very nice overlook of the year with a very bouncy arrangement from Pete Moore that I find personally very catchy.

June In January - This song is hard to review as it is a great classic from Bing, and personally I can't decide between this one and the original 1934 version.

Spring Will Be A Little Late This Year - This is a wonderful classic, although it's interesting performed as a swinger, that is not a complaint though.

April Showers - Although his '50s version is vocally superior I much prefer the arrangement on this one, so this might be my favorite version of it from Bing. His vocal is a little weak on this one, but being 74 and a few weeks before his untimely and sad death it's still very amazing.

June Is Bustin' Out All Over - A somewhat cheesy song gets given a great performance that makes it less cheesy. Bing's voice is a little weak on the slow parts on this one, but on the faster parts he's great.

In The Good Old Summertime - Another good old chestnut, that is given the same treatment as the previous only it helps the chestnut quality of it and Bing's voice is good throughout.

Summer Wind - I know this is blasphemy to say, but I prefer Bing's performance of this compared to Sinatra's. Bing had a great way to portray his vocal as reminiscing on the past and this song really deserves and rightfully gets that treatment from Bing, Frank's swinger doesn't fit the song as much to me.

Autumn In New York - Another Frank staple I prefer Bing's version of, Frank's Capitol comes very close to me. Pete Moore did an amazing job on the arrangement on this beautiful song.

September Song - Another definitive, to me anyway, version of a great song, that gets given the same reminiscing treatment as Summer Wind and it works out great for this song, Bing's vocal is great on this song. Pete Moore on these slower songs has really outdone himself.

Sleigh Ride - This might have to been my least favorite Christmas song Bing sang, his Decca version is great, but this one? The first 30 second and the bridging parts are pretty good, but the rest of it gets this very dated arrangement that doesn't fit Bing or the song well at all. Crosby's vocal on it is okay, but the arrangement really brings this version down

Yesterday When I Was Young - This song is great, Bing does great on it and it's a great last song for Bing's last album.

                          

Album overview: I gotta say this is one of the best concept albums I own. Besides it being Bing's last album which makes it a staple enough to listen to, it's a masterpiece of an album I'd say, and even Sleigh Ride, my least favorite, has it's charms. By this point he had came a long way from 'I've Got The Girl', and it shows, but in a great way. This album is one that should be known, it's amazing. Most of Bing's album were great in the mid-late 70s, but this, to me, takes the cake for the best one. Seasons is more of a passage through life, than a concept album of seasonal songs. It leads you through the start, a happy beginning, a love lost that is then found again, the middle of life with all it's glories and triumphs, the slowing of the age once you retire and reminisce, with it ending off with a family and friend filled last few years, and then finally looking over your own life. I can't say this is a 10/10 because of a certain winter song, but in my book it's a winner!

ModernBingFan0377'S rating: 9.75 out of 10
My Rating: 9 out of 10



Tuesday, May 19, 2020

GUEST REVIEWER: HERE IS MY HEART


ModernBingFan0377 is back with an excellent review of a film that is forgotten among Bing fans - Here Is My Heart...

In my search for entertainment while being stuck at home, I've decided to check out some Bing films I haven't watched. The first film on the list is Here Is My Heart.

Here I am 9 minutes in, and so far so good. Bing's performances on "June In January" and duetting on "Love Is Just Around The Corner" with Claire, played by Marian Mansfield, were very enjoyable and arguably better than the Decca recordings. The plot so far is thin, with Bing as Jasper (J.) Paul Jones, a millionaire radio performer, who is going through his bucket list before performing again. He has already done 4 of the 5 'missions' per say on his bucket list. The last one is to present 2 Jones pistols to the U.S. Naval Academy, which were made by John Paul Jones (think Jimmy Van Heusen presenting Van Heusen shirts to Old Navy). He had just sailed out of Monte Carlo and had "saved" a 'damsel in distress', one of the things on his bucket list, and fished in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, another thing on the list. He and the 'damsel in distress' hit it off when Jasper gets a telegram from Jimmy Smith that tells him the 2nd pistol is in Monte Carlo, so they start heading back.

When Jasper gets to Monte Carlo and the hotel he's staying at he gets "rejected" by a girl in the elevator. He goes to his hotel room and finds Jimmy Smith, played by William Frawley, who tells him that Princess Alexandra owns the pistol, but won't sell it to anyone, but a king or queen. Jasper stays in the hotel room and duets with himself on "June In January." A drunken waiter comes into his room with food that was ordered for another room. The waiter passes out after Jasper tells him off and follows him into the hallway. Jasper is mistaken for the waiter once a lady from the correct room comes out and finds him with the food. It just so happens the lady in the elevator was the princess, played by Kitty Carlisle, and keeps under cover as the waitor. Jasper is then sent out to find a tie and he steals one from the drunken waitor. Jasper keeps under cover as the waiter, but he also buys the hotel. The Royal Family staying at the hotel are revealed to be broke.


Jasper begins to give money to the Royal Family. They think he likes Alexandra, and Alexandra has him get tea for her. He sings a bit of "With Every Breat I Take" , and she likes it and has him come back to sing later. He kisses her which gets her mad so she gets a new waiter, which is just him in disguise. Prince Nicki, played by Roland Young, plots with Jasper to get her in love with him. The family wants the "other waitor" back, so he "comes back", but has to take care of the animals. While taking care if the parrots he has a wonderful performance of "Love Is Just Around The Corner" and the maid, played by Cecilia Parker a.k.a. Andy Hardy's sister in many of the Andy Hardy movies, falls in love. Jasper sings "With Every Breath I Take" again and the maid kisses him. Jasper gives away his original gun for the family and he reveals his identity to them. The Princess doesn't like Mr. Jones and leaves. Jasper and Nicki get tipsy after reading a note saying they'll never find her. Jasper goes back to the boat and finds that Claire bought a parrot fom a shop behind the cathedral. Jasper jumps out of the boat and finds Alexandra. Claire and Nicki get together and Jasper and Alexandra get together.

This movie was enjoyable. I would recommend this movie, but Kitty Carlisle's character was too snooty for my liking. The performances on many of the songs were better than the commercial recordings, to my liking anyways. Roland Young as the Prince was a good choice and William Frawley, despite not being in it much, was enjoyab;e when on screen. This movie isn't a masterpiece, but enjoyable for the hour and 16 minutes it's worth...

MODERNBINGFAN0377'S RATING: 7 OUT OF 10
MY RATING: 6 OUT OF 10


Thursday, May 7, 2020

AUDIO ASPIRIN: THE ROSE IN HER HAIR

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Monday, May 4, 2020

Sunday, May 3, 2020