Sunday, July 25, 2021


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


 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.