Sunday, December 26, 2021

VIDEO: BING CROSBY - THE HOLLYWOOD YEARS episode 7

Monday, December 20, 2021

BING AND HIS LAST CHRISTMAS SPECIAL

 Here is an advertisement for Bing Crosby's last Christmas special. It was aired after Bing's death. Bing looked frail but the voice was still there!


VIDEO: BING CROSBY - THE HOLLYWOOD YEARS episode 6

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

BING & BOB HOPE: CLASSIC HOLLYWOOD BFFs


Bing Crosby and Bob Hope worked together in Hollywood for a number of years, establishing status as one of showbiz’s most beloved duos. Though the two stars were “different” in some ways, Bing and Bob were extremely “close” and “loved each other” very much, author Richard Zoglin said.

In a scene from 1942’s Road to Morocco, Bing confesses his affection for his buddy Orville, played by Bob. “I guess in my own way, I sorta love you,” the crooner said just seconds before an amorous camel stretches through the shrubbery to plant a wet kiss on Bob’s cheek. “All right, but you don’t have to slobber all over me!” quipped Bob.

Before the word bromance or the rise of cinematic sequels, Bing and Bob starred in seven sweetly funny Road to … movies that made them two of Hollywood’s biggest stars. The films followed a formula: The pair would get into trouble, wisecracks would fly, Bing would sing, and Bob would talk directly to the audience. “They were the most lucrative franchise in movie history,” Gary Giddins, author of Bing Crosby: A Pocketful of Dreams and Bing Crosby: Swinging on a Star, shares with Closer.

The pair met in New York when Bob, a then up-and-coming comedian, was invited to emcee one of Bing’s shows in 1933. “They hit it off and used to take breaks together where they’d trade jokes,” says Giddins. “They tried the best bits out on stage and became a big hit with the audiences.”


That chemistry was still intact when Paramount Pictures teamed them up for Road to Singapore, which became one of the biggest hits of 1940. But success didn’t make them immediate best friends. “They were very different men. Bing wasn’t gregarious and didn’t like the trappings of stardom, while Bob loved them,” says Richard, author of Hope: Entertainer of the Century. “I think, privately, Bob felt that Bing was a little aloof. He said, ‘Bing and his wife never even invited me and Dolores to dinner.'” On the set, there was also a friendly competition to come up with the best zingers. “They each had their own writers,” says Giddins, although “they never had a fight.”

It wasn’t until the filming of their last road comedy, 1962’s The Road to Hong Kong, that their friendship really blossomed. “They went to London to do the film and lived in the same house with their wives,” says Giddins. The costars began playing golf together. “Bob’s wife, Dolores, said that was when they first realized how much they really loved each other,” says Zoglin. “From that time on, they were very, very close.”

Bing and Bob had been discussing another movie, The Road to the Fountain of Youth, when Bing died of a sudden heart attack in 1977. “Bob was really broken up about it,” Zoglin says told us. Too emotional to appear on stage, he canceled his live performance that night for the first time in his career. “If friends could have been made for each other, I would have asked for one just like Bing,” Bob said. “I miss him.”




Monday, December 6, 2021

VIDEO: BING CROSBY - THE HOLLYWOOD YEARS episode 4

Part 4 of this excellent series by David Duncan...

    

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Friday, November 26, 2021

RHYTHM ON THE RANGE: A 1936 REVIEW

Here is the NY Times review of Bing's RHYTHM ON THE RANGE, which was made 85 years ago! Written by Frank Nugent, it appeared in the Times on July 30, 1936...

Bing Crosby rides a broncho, milks a wild cow, croons a lullaby to a 2,200-pound Hereford bull and has a box-car romance with a runaway heiress in his new picture at the Paramount. All of which may be interesting and amusing—in fact, it is—but we prefer to think of "Rhythm on the Range" as our screen introduction to Martha Raye. 

Miss Raye is a stridently funny comedienne with a Mammoth Cave, or early Joe E. Brown, mouth, a dental supply vaguely reminiscent of those frightening uppers and lowers they used to hang over the portals of painless extraction emporia, and a chest which, in moments of burlesque aggressiveness, appears to expand fully ten inches. It is entirely possible that she had several clever lines of dialogue in the picture; we wouldn't know, because every time she opened her mouth the audience started laughing. There remains, then, only the conviction that Hollywood has found a remarkable pantomimist, an actress who can glare in several languages, become lovelorn in Esperanto and register beatific delight in facial pothooks and flourishes. She sings, too; swing music in a voice with saxophonic overtones and an occasional trace of pure fog horn. Puzzling at first, but you grow accustomed to it.



Assisting her in the genial task of stealing the picture from the laryngeal Mr. Crosby and the decorative Frances Farmer is Bob Burns, radio's monologist and bazooka player from Van Buren. Ark. Mr. Burns is tall, dry and drawling. A loquacious and philosophic humorist trained to the vocal requirements of radio, virtually his only concession to Hollywood is that he shifts from foot to foot as he talks instead of remaining rooted to a spot before a microphone. His foot-shifting is intricate, however, and his somnolent phrasing amusing, so we may bid him welcome too. And now we come to the plot, a small matter which would find an appropriate use for agate type. It deals with Mr. Crosby's participation in the rodeo at Madison Square Garden; his purchase of Cuddles, a prize bull, and his discovery of a smartly gowned stowaway in Cuddles's box car on the westbound trip. She, it develops, would rather be a pioneer woman than a polo player's bride; Mr. Crosby, it develops, would rather croon than give her a serious thought; their romance, it develops, develops. There is no point in being bitter about these things, sneering at Hollywood or chanting a disrespectful litany of "so whats?" A musical comedy story is a musical comedy story, and not many of them toss in a rodeo, a prize bull called Cuddles, a bazooka player and Martha Raye. Everything considered, Paramount has dealt fairly generously with us; of course, we could have had a mite more of Miss Raye. Still, it's something to anticipate later when her next pictures come along...





Tuesday, November 23, 2021

VIDEO: BING CROSBY - THE HOLLYWOOD YEARS episode 2

Here is episode two of this excellent series from David Duncan...



Monday, November 15, 2021

VIDEO: BING CROSBY - THE HOLLYWOOD YEARS episode 1

Bing Crosby fan David Duncan has created this excellent series! This series looks at Bing Crosby's extensive film career from 1933 through to 1957...


Saturday, November 13, 2021

BING'S DISCOGRAPHY: March 29, 1936

 Here are some early Decca recordings Bing made...decades and decades ago!




Date: 29 March 1936
Location: Los Angeles, Calif
Label: DECCA (US)



Bing Crosby (voc), Victor Young and his Orchestra (orc)
a. DLA322-A Would You? (Brown, Freed) - 3:09(Arthur Freed, Nacio Herb Brown)
b. DLA322-B Would You? (Brown, Freed) - 3:07(Arthur Freed, Nacio Herb Brown)

AVID (UK) CDAMSC 633 — BING CROSBY - YOU AND THE NIGHT AND THE MUSIC (1998)
c. DLA322-C test Would You? (Brown, Freed) - 3:07(Arthur Freed, Nacio Herb Brown)
d. DLA323-A Robins And Roses - 2:53(Edgar Leslie, Joe Burke)
e. DLA324-A I Got Plenty O' Nuttin' - 3:15(DuBose Heyward, George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin)

READER'S DIGEST CDRDCD 122 — THE BING CROSBY YEARS -Vol. 2 Relax and Remember 1936 -1939 (1989)
MCA (US) CDMCAD4 10887 — BING - HIS LEGENDARY YEARS 1931 - 1957 Disc 1 (1993)
CHARLY RECORDS (UK) CDCDCD 1200 — BING CROSBY - MOONLIGHT BECOMES YOU (1994)
UNIVERSAL INTERNATIONAL (Japan) CDUCCU 1155 — BING CROSBY SINGS GERSHWIN (2007)
Not Now Music CDNOT2CD740 — BING CROSBY SINGS THE GREAT AMERICAN SONGBOOK (2019)
f. DLA324-B I Got Plenty O' Nuttin' - 3:14(DuBose Heyward, George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin)
g. DLA325-A It Ain't Necessarily So - 3:06(Ira Gershwin, George Gershwin, DuBose Heyward)

UNIVERSAL INTERNATIONAL (Japan) CDUCCU 1155 — BING CROSBY SINGS GERSHWIN (2007)
h. DLA325-D It Ain't Necessarily So - 3:08(Ira Gershwin, George Gershwin, DuBose Heyward)
i. DLA326-Parody Robins And Roses - 1:29(Edgar Leslie, Joe Burke)

BROADWAY INTERMISSION (US) CDBRCD 134 — JUST FOR FUN (2000)
FOR COLLECTORS ONLY LP 12"FCO100B — BING CROSBY - FOR COLLECTORS ONLY
CURTAIN CALLS LP 12"CURTAIN CALLS 1002 — BOTH SIDES OF BING CROSBY (1974)

All titles on: JONZO (UK) CDJZCD-18 — THE CHRONOLOGICAL BING CROSBY VOLUME 18 (1999)







Saturday, October 30, 2021

BING ON FILM: A CONNECTICUT YANKEE IN KING ARTHUR'S COURT - PART TWO

Unfortunately, Rhonda Fleming is supposed to marry the brave knight Sir Lancelot (Henry Wilxocon). When Sir Lancelot finds out Bing is trying to steal his girl, he challenges Bing to a joust. Bing is good on a horse but no challenge to Sir Lancelot as a knight. Instead of Bing fighting him, he uses rodeo type triCks like knocking Sir Lancelot off his horse and embarrasses him instead of defeating him in a battle. Rhonda Fleming feels that Bing did not do the honorable thing and says she wants nothing to do with him. Meanwhile, there is a subplot where the king is out of touch with the people of his kingdom as they die in poverty of the plague. Bing suggests to the king that he should go see for himself how his people are living. They dress as peasants and travel the country. Merlin overhears their plans, and they are captured and sold as slaves in the market. Rhonda Fleming tries to save them and realizes that she loves Bing, but she is captured as well. Bing manages to overpower the guard with the aid of a magnet that he happens to have on him still. Merlin captures them again and decrees that under the law, the slaves attempting escape must be put to death. Reading his almanac, Bing realizes on that very day there was an eclipse. Pretending to possess magic, Bing calls on the total darkness of the world. Everyone is terrified by the darkness, and they are released. Rhonda Fleming, meanwhile is being held as a prisoner by Merlin, and as Bing frees Rhonda Fleming he is knocked unconscious by a guard and awakens to find himself once again in the year 1905. Bing relates this story to a lord who looks a lot like the king (also played by Cedric Hardwicke). The lord says that Bing’s story is remarkable but just then the lord’s niece comes by, and it is none other than Rhonda Fleming. They give each other a wink and a happy ending ensues.

The love story between Bing and Rhonda Fleming is well acted, and they had great chemistry. The film sort of drags on in the middle. I hate to say it but as I rewatched the movie now for this review, I found myself bored at parts, but when Bing and Rhonda Fleming (who was known as the Queen of Technicolor) are on the screen there was film magic. Rhonda Fleming gets to sing one of the songs written by Burke and Van Heusen called “When Is Sometime”. The song never became a hit, but it was quite pretty. Bing sings a song in the beginning as a blacksmith in 1905 called “If You Stub Your Toe on The Moon”. The song is forgotten today, but if you get a chance listen to the song in the movie or Bing’s Decca recording of it because it is really a great song. In 1949, Frank Sinatra recorded it for Columbia Records, and Tony Martin recorded it for RCA, but Bing’s version was the best. The main love song in the film was “Once And For Always” which I think holds up more than this movie does. Bing made a solo record of it, and also as a duet with Rhonda Fleming. It is one of the most beautiful love songs Bing sang in the movies in my opinion. The one other song in the film was “Busy Doing Nothing”. Bing sang it with William Bendix and Cedric Hardwicke, both who are non-singers, so the song was not given much of a chance to be remembered. Even though the great Victor Young conducted the music on the film, it seems like one other song was needed for the film.


Movie reviews were generally positive for “A Connecticut Yankee” with Bosley Crowther of The New York Times writing: "The solid, reliable humors of Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, which have already done yeoman service in two films and a Broadway musical show, have been given another going over—with eminently satisfactory results—in Paramount’s new film of the same title, which came to the Music Hall yesterday. And for this we can thank Bing Crosby, primarily and above all, because it is Bing in the role of the Yankee who gives this film its particular charm ... But it is still Bing’s delightful personality, his mild surprises and sweet serenities, and his casual way of handling dialogue that makes this burlesque a success. No one in current operation could qualify, we are sure, to play the Connecticut Yankee the way the old Groaner does.” Variety was not quite so enthusiastic: "Picture wears the easy casualness that's a Crosby trademark, goes about its entertaining at a leisurely pace, and generally comes off satisfactorily. It's not high comedy and there’s little swashbuckling.”

Would I put this 1949 Bing effort among my favorite Bing films? I would say no, however despite any negativity I have about the film, it is still a worthwhile Bing film. Bing and the cast rise to the challenge of a silly script to put in some great performances. The high points of the film is always Bing’s singing and acting, but in this film look out for highpoints like the amazing beauty of Rhonda Fleming as well as the unstated comedic talent of William Bendix. The film is fun and enjoyable, and I am so glad Paramount spent the extra money to make it in technicolor. The movie is worth it alone to see Bing’s blue eyes and Rhonda Fleming’s red flowing hair...

MY RATING: 6 OUT OF 10





Thursday, October 14, 2021

BING ON FILM: A CONNECTICUT YANKEE IN KING ARTHUR'S COURT - PART ONE

Since Bing starred in so many movies, it is always difficult to decide what movie to review next. Today marks the one year anniversary of Rhonda Fleming's passing, so I decided to review the one movie that they made together – 1949’s “A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court”. I had forgotten the story is based off of a Mark Twain novel that Twain wrote in 1889. A successful book, the story has been adapted many times for stage, movies, and even cartoons. The earliest film version was a silent film made in 1921 starring forgotten actor Harry Myers in the title role. In 1927, the novel was adapted into a stage musical with words and music written by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart. The score included many standards such as “My Heart Stood Still” and “Thou Swell”. Then in 1931 Will Rogers made another movie version which was an early hit for Rogers. Bing Crosby’s version would come next, and I have to admit the film has never been my favorite movie. Like the previous movie I reviewed, 1956’s “Anything Goes”, “A Connecticut Yankee” had a lot going for it, but it just falls short.

Bing’s version of the film had intended to use the Rodgers & Hart score from the Broadway version, but at the time MGM owned the rights to the songs. MGM was planning to make a biography on the life of Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart (The movie would be 1948’s “Words And Music”), so for Bing’s movie a new film score would have to be written. Bing’s chief movie songwriters at the time, Johnny Burke and Jimmy Van Heusen, wrote the new songs for the film. Tay Garnett would direct the film, and he was not known for making musicals. Before “A Connecticut Yankee”, Garnett had directed a lot of successful films like “Seven Sinners” (1940) starring John Wayne, and “The Postman Always Rings Twice” (1946) starring John Garfield. To me, he was an odd choice to direct a lighthearted Bing film, but he was a contracted director at Paramount from 1947 to 1954. The screenplay was written by Edmund Beloin. Beloin was a writer on Jack Benny’s radio program from 1936 to 1943, and he also wrote the screenplay for Bing’s “The Road To Rio” (1947).


The setting of the film is unique for Bing in that it is a period piece, as it takes place in the distant past. I much prefer a Bing in “contemporary times”. The movie first takes place in 1905. Bing plays a blacksmith whose profession is in jeopardy with the coming of the automobile. With horses on their way out as a mode of transportation, Bing tries to adapt by learning how to fix cars. He is riding his horse home, and Bing gets caught in a storm. The horse is spooked, and Bing falls off of the horse and is knocked out. When Bing awakes, a sword is pointed at his face by a knight (William Bendix), and Bing realizes that he is now in England in 528 AD. He is taken by the knight to the king (Sir Cedric Hardwicke) where he is being entertained in the court by his niece (Rhonda Fleming). William Bendix, in a comedic role of course, explains that Bing is an evil sorcerer and, Bendix claims that he used his power and bravery to capture Bing. The king’s sorcerer Merlin (Murvyn Vye) is instantly jealous and intimidated by Bing, so he convinces the king to put Bing to death. Right before Bing is supposed to be burnt at the stake, he amazes the courts with his feats of magic, which in today’s world are common parlor tricks like using a magnifying glass to start a fire. Bing becomes a favorite of the kingdom, where he befriends the king and wins the attention of his niece. She is amazed at Bing that he is some sort of a magician. He teaches her “modern” singing as well as how to wink...

TO BE CONTINUED...




Monday, October 11, 2021

NEW CD: BING CROSBY - GUEST STAR TIME

Sepia Records have done it again with another great CD issue from Bing Crosby's radio days...

This 2-CD set features 66 of Bing Crosby's guest appearances on other people's radio shows and covers a time period of almost 20 years. Of particular historical significance are four tracks from the Allied Expeditionary Forces broadcast in London with Glenn Miller and his American Band of the AEF in 1944.



Track Listing:
Disc 1:

On Treasure Island
I’m Hummin’, I’m Whistlin’, I’m Singin’
Love in Bloom
Straight from the Shoulder
This Can’t Be Love
I Have Eyes
Don’t Let That Moon Get Away
I’ve Got a Pocketful of Dreams
Small Fry
Frenesi
My Melancholy Baby
The Birth of the Blues
My Old Kentucky Home
Winter Wonderland
Be Careful, It’s My Heart
Moonlight Becomes You
As Time Goes By
Old Glory
It Ain’t Necessarily So
You’ll Never Know
Memphis Blues
Basin Street Blues / Shine / The Birth of the Blues
Way Down Yonder in New Orleans
Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
If You Please
She’s from Missouri
Sunday, Monday or Always
Dixie
Pennies from Heaven
I’ll Get By
Easter Parade
With a Song in My Heart
Long Ago (and Far Away)
Amor

Disc 2:

Swinging on a Star
Poinciana
San Fernando Valley
Parody Medley
Going My Way
Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ral
You’re a Grand Old Flag
De Camptown Races
Home on the Range
When You Were Sweet Sixteen / The Band Played On
God Bless America
You Belong to My Heart
Red River Valley
Haunted Heart
The Bells of St. Mary’s
Buttons and Bows
A Little Bird Told Me
Road to Morocco
Friendly Mountains
Get Yourself a Phonograph
I Kiss Your Hand, Madame
The Kiss in Your Eyes
O Sanctissima
Ida, Sweet as Apple Cider
St. Louis Blues
Wait Till the Sun Shines, Nellie
The Waiter and the Porter and the Upstairs Maid
America the Beautiful
Sam’s Song
Anytime
To See You Is to Love You
Way Back Home

BING CROSBY ESTATE SELL ESTATE RIGHTS

Harry Crosby was 19 when his father, Bing, died in 1977. But when he goes to a shopping mall or party in December, there’s a strong chance he’ll hear his dad’s voice singing "White Christmas."

He and his family want to hear that voice more during the other 11 months, a desire that led to a deal being announced Monday to sell an equal stake in the rights to Bing Crosby’s estate to Primary Wave Music.

It’s another example of how the sale of catalog rights has become a booming business, with most involving rock artists who write their own music — Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Neil Young and Stevie Nicks are examples. The Crosby deal is the most prominent involving a pre-rock artist who primarily interpreted songs written by others.

The deal is estimated in excess of $50 million.

A younger generation knows Crosby best through "White Christmas" and the duet with David Bowie on "The Little Drummer Boy" made for a television special shortly before his death. Fewer people alive remember Crosby’s days as a major recording artist and movie star.

"There were things that became absolutely top hits in the ‘30s and ’40s, for a sustained period of time, and they just went away," Harry Crosby said. "People associate dad with Christmas, but in the ’40s and ’50s, they didn’t associate him with Christmas. They associated dad with tons of things, and that’s what I want to bring back."


 Some of his hit songs include "Pennies From Heaven," "It’s Been a Long, Long Time," "Don’t Fence Me In" and "Accentuate the Positive."

Crosby won an Academy Award for best actor for playing a priest in the 1945 film "Going My Way" and made seven "road" movies with his friend, comic Bob Hope. His association with golf is also remembered, as he created the first pro-am tournament and was reportedly a member of 75 golf clubs.

Crosby’s family, which includes his widow and two of Harry’s siblings, have been interested in a documentary series to tell Bing’s story.

Primary Wave’s first priority is to increase Crosby’s digital footprint, to boost his profile on Spotify and get his music added to playlists for a generation unfamiliar with it, said Larry Mestel, the company’s founder and CEO.

"We want to be in business and partner with the greatest of the greats, regardless of the genre, regardless of the era," Mestel said. Primary Wave also works with the estates of Count Basie and Ray Charles.


 The challenge lies in infiltrating a new youth culture with the work of a mature artist, he said. Unlike many of the rock-era artists involved in such deals, Crosby obviously isn’t around to perform or promote his work.

But while song publishing is at the heart of many such deals, Mestel said Primary Wave takes a broader look at ways to get an artist’s name out there and, of course, make money off his likeness or work. He sees enormous potential in Crosby’s film properties.

"The way I view dad is not just through the prism of music and film," Crosby said. "He was a pioneer in all the different mediums and all the things that came out of that — technology and music and golf, sportsmanship and hunting. There are a lot of different things that describe the human being."

The times that he hears "White Christmas" while out in public brings a smile to Crosby.

"I miss him a lot," he said. "It’s a time of reflection. It’s not painful, it’s inspiring. It’s reassuring that with all of the things he did and as hard as he worked, that he’s being recognized again and again."


Wednesday, September 29, 2021

BING AND A LUX GIRL

 Here is a nice magazine adverstisement from 1950 when Bing was starring in Paramount's Riding High. He shares the magazine ad with his co-star in the film Coleen Gray...




Sunday, September 12, 2021

PHOTOS OF THE DAY: BING AND DONALD O'CONNOR

 Bing's career crossed paths with dancer Donald O'Connor's path from time to time through the decades. The made two movies together: Sing You Sinners (1937) and Anything Goes (1956). They also recorded a couple of duets at Decca and appeared on radio together. Here are some nice photos of them together...















Friday, September 3, 2021

COMING SOON: THE EMPEROR WALTZ ON BLU-RAY

While 1948's The Emperor Waltz is not Bing's greatest movie, it will still be great to get it on Blu-Ray!

From Billy Wilder, the brilliant director of Five Graves to Cairo, The Lost Weekend, Sunset Boulevard, Some Like It Hot and Witness for the Prosecution, comes this delightful musical comedy starring screen greats Bing Crosby (Road to Morocco, Going My Way) and Joan Fontaine (Kiss the Blood off My Hands, Suspicion). American gramophone salesman Virgil Smith (Crosby) wants to sell his wares in pre-WWI Austria. To get the ball rolling, he hits on the idea of going straight to the top and selling one to Emperor Franz Joseph (Richard Haydn, No Time for Love, The Sound of Music). First off, the palace guards think he’s carrying a bomb and he’s arrested. He subsequently meets Countess Johanna von Stolzenberg-Stolzenberg (Fontaine) and, after the usual misunderstandings, falls in love with her. She falls in love with his dog, Buttons. The relation is fraught with obstacles and the emperor thinks royal blood marrying a commoner is bad darts altogether—what is to become of Smith and his countess? Co-written by Wilder and his frequent collaborator Charles Brackett (A Foreign Affair, Arise, My Love), this charming farce garnered Oscar nominations for its wonderful score by Victor Young (The Paleface) and elegant costumes by Edith Head (Sabrina) and Gile Steele (The Heiress).


Blu-ray Extras Include:
-NEW Audio Commentary by Film Historian Joseph McBride, author of Billy Wilder: Dancing on the Edge
-Billy Wilder and Volker Schlöndorff Discuss THE EMPEROR WALTZ
-Trailers

You can order your copy HERE




Monday, August 9, 2021

BING WITH A BEAT

Bing with a Beat was Bing Crosby's seventh long play album but his first with RCA Victor. It was recorded at the Radio Recorders "Annex" Studio in Los Angeles and released on vinyl in September 1957. Bing with a Beat is a 1957 concept album where the songs feature "hot" jazz and dixieland arrangements by Matty Matlock, played by Bob Scobey's Frisco Jazz Band.

The album was issued on CD by BMG Music and Bluebird Records in 2004. Variety liked the album, saying, "Bob Scobey's Frisco Jazz Band has put Bing Crosby in one of his happiest and swingiest vocal frames. The evergreens are ever-bright when Crosby and Scobey match wits."

Record producer, Ken Barnes, wrote, "After his high-powered outing with Buddy Bregman, Bing probably felt a desire to get back to the roots of his singing style and this pleasantly swinging album with Bob Scobey's Frisco Jazz Band was probably the best artistic therapy for him at this point in his career. Bing always responded enthusiastically to a Dixie-style backing and with songs like 'Some Sunny Day', 'Whispering' and 'Mama Loves Papa' he is in top-notch form. Scobey plays some tasty trumpet and there are telling solos from others in the band - notably Ralph Sutton on piano. The cleanly crisp arrangements are by Matty Matlock and the album is almost a total joy from beginning to end. The only mild disappointment is a rather lack-lustre version of 'Mack the Knife' which should have been a standout.

The writer Will Friedwald, in his book Jazz Singing: America's Great Voices from Bessie Smith to Bebop and Beyond, commented, "Communicating the obvious joy the music arises in him, Crosby fairly oozes with charming insouciance above and beyond even the call of Crosby, expressed in semi-spoken asides and lyric alterations."

Track Listing:
1. Let A Smile Be Your Umbrella
2. I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself A Letter
3. Along The Way To Waikiki
4. Exactly Like You
5. Dream A Little Dream Of Me
6. Last Night On The Back Porch
7. Some Sunny Day
8. Whispering
9. Tell Me
10. Mack The Knife
11. Down Among The Sheltering Palms
12. Mama Loves Papa



Sunday, July 25, 2021

BING ON FILM: ANYTHING GOES - PART TWO


At lot of movie studios when they are making a movie version of a Broadway show try to keep the musical score intact. However, Paramount Studios had a habit of chopping up a Broadway score and adding different songs to their movie versions. They did this to Cole Porter in 1936 for that version of Anything Goes, and supposedly it caused a rift between Cole and Bing Crosby. They kept a lot of Cole Porter’s songs in the film, but they also cut a few and added songs that were written by Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen. Cahn and Van Heusen were good songwriters, but they were no Cole Porter. While we got to hear and to watch the cast perform great Cole Porter standards like “Anything Goes” (sung by Mitzi Gaynor), “You’re The Top” (sung by Bing, Mitzi, Donald O’Connor, and Zizi Jeanmarie), and “All Through The Night (sung by Bing), we also witnessed the hokey songs written by Cahn and Van Heusen for the film like: “You Can Bounce Right Back”, “You Gotta Give The People Hoke”, and “A Second Hand Turban”. At times it felt like there were two musical scores in the film. I am okay if Paramount wanted to punch up the score with different songs, but the Cole Porter songbook was vast, and they could have used dozens of other Porter songs. They even brought in a third songwriting team in Leo Robin and Frederick Hollander, and that duo wrote two other songs for the film that were not used called “Am I Awake” and “Hopelessly In Love”. Nothing against those other song writers but it was a slap in the face to Cole Porter.

The two best musical numbers in the film was the love song “It’s Delovely” which was performed by Donald O’Connor and Mitzi Gaynor. Their singing is charming and the dance number was definitely the best number in the film and probably one of the best numbers that Paramount filmed in the 1950s. The other number that I liked was the closing number “Blow Gabriel Blow” which was performed by Bing and the whole cast. Some people online had an issue with a man singing the song since Ethel Merman introduced and sang the song on Broadway, but it was a great huge Hollywood finale, and Bing did it justice. The song was a big send off to Bing who had helped to get Paramount out of near bankruptcy in the 1930s when he signed with the studio. I liked the number myself.


 The critics were mixed though when the film premiered in New York on March 21, 1956… The Variety reviewer said: "It’s a bright offering for Easter release, geared to play an engaging tune at the wickets. Male topliners Bing Crosby and Donald O’Connor go together as

though born to give the zip to what scripter Sidney Sheldon has concocted hereunder the stage title. While there are Cole Porter songs and the legit handle is still carried, that’s about all that remains of what went on behind the footlights, and there’s scant resemblance to Paramount's 1936 film version, in which Crosby also starred with Ethel Merman".

A H Weiler, writing for The New York Times, thought that, "For all its activity, Anything Goes is, in the main, standard musical comedy. Some of the principals are decidedly decorative and talented. The script, however, is transparent and fragile."

There are a couple of fun goofs in the film if you watch close enough and have seen the movie as many times as I have. During the "Ya Gotta Give The People Hoke" number Bing Crosby and Donald O'Connor go into a prop room, pick up a prop, go on stage, do a "bit" and go back to the prop room. About midway through, Bing comes out on stage wearing a Fireman's hat. There is a pile of brownish debris and several piles of white material that were not there a second before, indicating that one or more "bits" had been cut after filming. Also, during the "You're The Top" number Bing and Mitzi Gaynor are on the lifeboat deck on one side of a partition while Donald O'Connor and Zizi Jeanmaire are on the other side. All are singing yet, though the deck is open to the sky, no one hears the others. Also, there are no partitions on a lifeboat deck.

So even with the goofs and my complaining about the film, I think Anything Goes is a pretty good movie. The film was successful for Paramount, and it marked the end of Bing Crosby’s association with the studio. I do recommend this movie to any Bing Crosby fan, and the film overall is a good musical. It is a good musical by Paramount’s standards but maybe not by MGM standards. Just look at Bing’s first post Paramount musical – High Society for MGM later that year. That is how a musical should be made! Again you may not be blown away by 1956’s Anything Goes, but you will enjoy the film...


MY RATING: 7 out of 10




Saturday, July 10, 2021

A QUICK LOOK AT BING's RUN AT CAPITOL


 Here is another great article from our guest blogger ModernBingFan0377...


An overlooked aspect of Bing’s career is his short lived run at Capitol in 1956 and ‘57. 1956 marked the end of Bing’s exclusivity to Decca and would set the ball rolling for some of the best and worst years of recordings Bing had. In the first year or so, it seemed like he might’ve been going to Capitol Records. With the release of the High Society soundtrack on Capitol, it marked one of the first times he had recorded for a company other than Decca since 1934.

The High Society soundtrack brought with it many good songs, and some staples as well. The Porter-penned soundtrack featured songs written for Bing like “I Love You Samantha,” “Little One,” “Now You Has Jazz,” and most importantly “True Love.” Bing’s duet with soon to be Princess of Monaco Grace Kelly would prove to be Bing’s last million seller, which it achieved in less than a year of its release. Another song recorded for High Society was “Well, Did You Evah” which featured the first commercially available duet between Bing and Frank Sinatra. “True Love” and “Well, Did You Evah” were invariably tied together by them being on the same single throughout most of its issuing, with “True Love” on the A-Side, effectively giving Francis Albert and the Princess of Monaco million sellers as well.

After recording these for the High Society soundtrack, Bing would make his first official recordings at Capitol Records, although for Verve. These consecutive sessions would end up producing the “Bing Sings Whilst Bregman Swings” as Bing’s response to the current popular records of the time, namely Sinatra’s “Songs For Swingin’ Lovers.” This album would become Bing’s most popular album of the ‘50s, with mostly positive reviews as well. Many people in the industry thought that songs from this album would produce Bing’s next hit, which sadly never happened. Despite never fully obtaining hit status, the album would continue to be issued over the years, and never was out of print for too long.


Then on March 15th, 1957, Bing would make his first commercial recordings with the matured Nelson Riddle on the songs “Man On Fire” and “Seven Nights A Week.” The single never became a hit, however Riddle’s arrangement style for Bing on Man On Fire would be carried on, only exoticized, to Bing and Nelson’s only album together, “Return to Paradise Islands.” “Seven Nights A Week” was a tongue and cheek parody of rock ‘n roll, while being somewhat of a rocker itself, being reminiscent of Nat King Cole’s “Mr. Cole Won’t Rock ‘n Roll.” The recordings on the single would fall into obscurity with “Man On Fire” living on somewhat by being used as the title theme of Bing’s 1957 film of the same name, and also being the only recording of the two to be officially released by Capitol on CD.

This would be the last time Bing would visit Capitol, and possibly even the last time Bing visited the Capitol Records studios for recording, until 1963 for the Great Country Hits album. Bing would go on to sell the stock of the Project Records label, and eventually some masters, to Capitol. His legacy at Capitol is not very big, but it does exist, and it started in the ‘50s, and we should remember that.



Thursday, June 24, 2021

BING ON FILM: ANYTHING GOES - PART ONE


For this latest review, I figured I would review 1956’s Anything Goes. Bing Crosby’s co-star in the film Zizi Jeanmarie passed away last year at the age of 96, so I figured it would be fitting to watch something she was a part of. This 1956 film would be the last film Bing would make for Paramount Studios after being with them for 24 years! It remains the second longest contract for any star with any studio, only exceeded by Robert Taylor with MGM. The musical Anything Goes was a superb Cole Porter Broadway show when it opened in the 1930s. Since its 1934 debut at the Neil Simon Theatre (at the time known as the Alvin) on Broadway, the musical has been revived several times in the United States and Britain and has been filmed twice. The musical had a tryout in Boston, before opening on Broadway at the Alvin Theatre on November 21, 1934. It ran for 420 performances, becoming the fourth longest-running musical of the 1930s, despite the impact of the Great Depression on Broadway patrons' disposable income.

The movie was first filmed in 1936 with Bing Crosby and Ethel Merman, but it bared little resemblance to the Broadway show or this 1956 remake other than Bing in the film and a few Cole Porter tunes. The plot of this 1956 remake is also quite different than the Broadway show. The only that stayed the same was that most of the story takes place on a luxury liner. So the movie opens up with a veteran Broadway star (played by Bing) meeting an up and coming television star (played by Donald O’ Connor) at a party, and they decide it would be fun to star together in a Broadway show, with each guy thinking they are helping the other one’s career out. Donald O’Connor tells Bing that he doesn’t care who their leading lady is, but in reality, he does. Bing Crosby goes to see a blonde American who has been performing in Europe (Mitzi Gaynor), and he signs her to a contract. Meanwhile, Donald O’Connor takes it upon himself to sign a French ballet star (Jeanmarie). So, they now have two actresses signed for one role. For the rest of the film Bing and Donald try to figure out how to solve their problem. Donald falls in love with Mitzi, and Bing falls in love with the French ballet star. Then there is the typical movie twist where they lose the girl, and then Bing and Donald manage to get the girls back, revamp the plot of their show so they have two leading ladies, and live happily ever after.




Bing Crosby and Donald O’ Connor were great together, and they went back together to the 1930s when Donald played Bing’s younger brother in 1938’s Sing You Sinners. They had tried to reteam for 1954’s White Christmas, but O’Connor broke his ankle before filming could begin and was replaced with Danny Kaye. Mitzi Gaynor is also great with both Bing and Donald. It was weird though seeing Mitzi Gaynor and Donald O’ Connor as love interests since they played brother and sister in the earlier film There’s No Business Like Show Business! Phil Harris was also in the cast as Mitzi Gaynor’s gambling father. He was the reason why the two were on the run in Europe to begin with. Phil was great in his role, but it was kind of small. Being one of Bing’s few close friends in the real world, and since he had such a great relationship with Bing, I wish they would have performed a number together. The problem I have with the film is Zizi Jeanmarie as Bing’s love interest. I just did not feel any chemistry between the two. Zizi was a gifted ballet dancer, and she was mesmerizing in the 1953 Paramount film Hans Christian Anderson, but other than her musical numbers, she did not add much to Anything Goes. She was hugely popular in her home country of France and was married to the choreographer of the movie, Roland Petit. Whether she got him his job on the film or visa versa, I don't know. However, she was totally wrong as Bing's love interest. She was a fine dancer, but the Cole Porter song "I Get A Kick Out Of You" was wasted on her limited vocal ability. Bing Crosby, in his Paramount contract, had co-star approval so maybe he wanted to try to reach out to a different audience, but I think the pairing of Bing and Zizi hurt the movie...


TO BE CONTINUED...





Sunday, June 6, 2021

Friday, May 21, 2021

BING'S DISCOGRAPHY: May 26, 1941

Here are a few sides that Bing made 80 years ago. Unbelievable that they are that old...




Date: 26 May 1941
Location: Los Angeles, Calif
Label: DECCA (US)

a. DLA2411-A The Waiter And The Porter And The Upstairs Maid - 3:09(Johnny Mercer)


Bing Crosby, Mary Martin, Jack Teagarden (voc), Jack Teagarden and his Orchestra (orc)
EMI -AXIS (Australia) CDCDAX-701592 — THE STARS IN SONG (1990)
MCA (Japan) CDMVCM24004 — BING CROSBY - A MUSICAL AUTOBIOGRAPHY Disc 2 (1925-1942) (1993)
ASV - LIVING ERA (UK) CDCD AJA 5147 — BING CROSBY & FRIENDS (1994)
VOCALION (UK) CDCDUS 3000 — BING CROSBY AND FRIENDS (1999)
MEMOIR (UK) CDCDMOIR548 — BING CROSBY AND COMPANY (2000)
AVID (UK) CDAMBX 147 (AMSC 826) — BING CROSBY A MUSICAL AUTOBIOGRAPHY Disc 2 (2005)
RETROSPECTIVE CDRTS 4184 — BING CROSBY & BUDDIES - Gone Fishin' - His 53 Finest - CD1 (2011)
SOUNDS OF YESTERYEAR CD— BING CROSBY - IMMERSED IN MR. MERCER'S VERSE (2019)




b. DLA2412-A The Birth Of The Blues - 3:12(Buddy DeSylva, Lew Brown, Ray Henderson)

Bing Crosby (voc), Jack Teagarden and his Orchestra (orc)
JASMINE (UK) CDJASCD 121/2 — BING CROSBY - GOING HOLLYWOOD - Volume 3 1940 - 1944 CD1 (2001)
CASTLE PULSE CDPBXCD 471/2 — BING CROSBY - THE CENTENARY COLLECTION (disc 2) (2003)
RAJON CDCDR0046 — THE GREAT BING CROSBY VOLUME 2 (disc 2) (2003)
UNIVERSAL INTERNATIONAL (Japan) CDUCCC 3032 — BING CROSBY WITH JAZZ FRIENDS (2004)

Both titles on: PAST (Pavilion Records Ltd) (UK) CDCD 9784 — BING CROSBY - THE MOVIE HITS (1991)
MCA/DECCA/GRP (US) CDGRP 16032 / also GRD 603 — BING CROSBY AND SOME JAZZ FRIENDS (1991)
EMPRESS (UK) CDRAJCD 802 — BING CROSBY - ONLY FOREVER (1993)
EPM MUSIQUE CD983002 — BING CROSBY GREATEST HITS 1934 - 1943 (disc 1) (1994)
PROPER RECORDS (UK) CDP1235 — BING CROSBY: IT'S EASY TO REMEMBER (Vocal Innovators and the Jazz Connection) (2001)
JONZO (UK) CDJZCD-30 — THE CHRONOLOGICAL BING CROSBY VOLUME 30 (2003)

Monday, May 3, 2021

PHOTOS OF THE DAY: THE YOUNG BING CROSBY

 To celebrate Bing's 118th birthday, I dug up some photos of the young Bing Crosby. They are hard to find, but they are ranging from the age of a little boy to college. They are amazing memories of Bing...















Thursday, April 29, 2021

REMEMBERING BRUCE KOGAN (1947-2021)

 Many of my fellow blog readers will be familiar with the name of Bruce Kogan. He did the guest reviews for this blog and many others. He has countless review on IMDB. Being a movie lover, as well as a music historian, Bruce had a wide knowledge of the great world of nostalgia. Bruce died on April 26th, after a long and brave battle with cancer. He was 73.

Bruce Kogan was a powerhouse. He came to Buffalo (from NYC) to RETIRE - which says multitudes about him right out of the gate. He was a pit bull for justice to all in the Empire State, but especially LGBTQ New Yorkers. He was an advocate in Buffalo and anywhere his help was needed. His insights into the mechanisms of government, including but not limited to Law Enforcement, the Crime Victims Board, and countless policy issues were uncanny. Once he was involved with a case, he just couldn't do enough for you. And he did it with compassion.

Born in Brooklyn, Bruce Kogan spent his life in the service of others. In the late 1990s, Bruce moved to Buffalo and became a part of our family. During his career at the NYS Crime Victims Board, and his lifetime spent as an advocate of equality and justice for all communities, especially the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, Bruce never gave up the fight. A former president of SDWNY who served our organization in many roles throughout the years, Bruce is forever an essential part of the work of SDNWY and all LGBTQ advocacy in WNY, across New York State and throughout our nation. With every meeting attended, lobby visit made and heart changed, Bruce helped bring about the monumental progress the LGBTQ community has made in the last decades. Whether LGBTQ youth protections, Marriage Equality, transgender civil rights and every issue that touched our community, Bruce was there. Every woman, man and child in our community is the better and more equal for Bruce and his life’s work.


A central passion of Bruce’s life was his advocacy for LGBTQ crime victims. Bruce never stopped being an advocate for those victims, and pressing the issue of their justice. Among his work on this issue, Bruce never stopped fighting for justice for Winthrop “Winkie” Bean, writing the play “Call Me Winkie,” which has been performed multiple times here in WNY. We commit now and every day to continuing that advocacy in Bruce’s name.

Our hearts and thoughts are heavy, are they are with Bruce, his family, friends and all who loved and knew him. There are no words that will ever properly thank Bruce Kogan for dedicating his life to making the world a better place, for more people than will ever be known. Thank you, Bruce. Happy trails.

I will miss you friend...