Monday, December 5, 2022

VIDEO: BING CROSBY - THE HOLLYWOOD YEARS episode 23

Friday, November 25, 2022

BING ON FILM: WAIKIKI WEDDING - PART TWO

Before Bing made the film, he and wife Dixie Lee vacationed in Honolulu where he met band leader Harry Owens. Owens had composed the song “Sweet Leilani” for his daughter that was born around that time. The name “Leilani” means “flower of heaven”. Bing fell in love with the song and wanted to use the song in the film. Harry Owens was reluctant, but he eventually agreed. The movie producers did not want to use the song in the film either, but with Bing’s higher clout as one of Paramount’s biggest money makers, Bing smartly demanded that the song to be in the film. The song was a huge success. It was Bing’s first million selling song, and it also won the Oscar for Best Song in 1938 beating out such songs as the Gershwin’s “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” and Sammy Fain and Lew Brown’s great standard “That Old Feeling”. The rest of the songs in Waikiki Wedding were written by Leo Robin and Ralph Rainger, whom as you know wrote many of Bing’s film songs of the time. The three songs other songs that Bing sang in the film included “In A Little Hula Heaven”, “Blue Hawaii”, and “Sweet Is The Word For You”. The song “Blue Hawaii” would remain popular through the years even to be revived later on by Elvis Presley. Personally, I think the most underrated song in the film was “Sweet Is The Word For You”. It was the great love song of the film, and the song should be remembered more.

The reviews were mostly positive for the film too:
Frank S. Nugent writing in The New York Times commented: "Regretting that he has but one voice to give, Bing Crosby is surrendering it cheerfully at the Paramount to the uses of the Hawaiian Board of Trade, the pineapple industry and sundry tourist agencies. His Waikiki Wedding places him in a welter of grass skirts, tropical sunsets, Martha Raye and a razorback pig called Walford...It is, at least, a workable idea for a musical comedy, even though the fabric has been stretched so far that it has burst in places...Mr. Crosby is still the pleasantest of our crooners and Miss Ross was all right, too."


 Variety had minor doubts about the songs. "A romantic picture, pure and simple, Waikiki Wedding should have no difficulty getting by anywhere. It’s saccharine celluloid, sugar coated by Bing Crosby’s and Shirley Ross’ crooning in a surefire palmetto setting. The prime possible box office deterrent with this pic is that it comes so soon after the release of Crosby’s Pennies from Heaven for Columbia, but this damper should not be drastic. While none of the songs here will hit the top performance brackets, they fit the picture’s theme and the voices of Crosby, Shirley Ross and Martha Raye. They should get at least a minor play on the air. . . (Crosby) also makes the best of his songs, a couple of them spotted in night sailboat scenes that are very well photographed and directed."

In my opinion, Waikiki Wedding was no grand masterpiece, but it is an example of Bing just being appealing in any role he is cast in. Bing’s role in this film is mostly as a lying publicity agent, but by the end of the 89 minute film I find myself rooting for Bing to get the girl. Some of the scenes are beautifully done and despite not being shot in color, the audience gets the feel of old Hawaii. This was the Hawaii of 1937, so I am sure it is much different now. As we all know Hawaii would be devastated four years later with the bombing of Pearl Harbor. However in 1937, Hawaii was a peaceful and beautiful oasis. It was easy to believe that Bing and Shirley Ross could fall in love here! It was joy to watch the movie, especially since the closest I will get to Hawaii this year is a trip to our community pool, It is nice to watch Waikiki Wedding and get the taste of the islands from Bing! If you have not watched this film do yourself a favor and put it on. As Bing would say “Aloha on the steel guitars!”

MY RATING: 9 OUT OF 10  



Friday, November 11, 2022

BING ON FILM: WAIKIKI WEDDING - PART ONE

Since I have been blessed with children, dreams of going to Hawaii have been placed on the back burner. I have never been there, but Bing was for his 1937 film Waikiki Wedding. Since most of you will be reading this in summer, I figured it was an appropriate film to review this time around. Waikiki Wedding was directed by Frank Tuttle, who worked with Bing extensively at Paramount in the 1930s. He directed Bing’s other 1930s films like: The Big Broadcast (1932), Here Is My Heart (1934), Two For Tonight (1935), Doctor Rhythm (1938), and Paris Honeymoon (1939). The usual Paramount stars of the 1930s appear with Bing in the film as well including Shirley Ross, Martha Raye, and Bob Burns. A rarity of movie productions during 1930s, the film was actually filmed on location between November of 1936 and February 1937.

The plot of Waikiki Wedding is slight but enjoyable. Bing plays Tony Marvin, a lazy man who works in publicity for the Imperial Pineapple Company. He is almost about to get fired when he comes up with the idea of a “Pineapple Girl” contest. The winner gets three weeks in Hawaii, and the winner’s every moment on the trip is meant to be reported to the press for publicity. The girl that wins, Georgia Smith (played by Shirley Ross), is extremely bored and ready to go home when a stranger gives her a black pearl to smuggle through customs. Bing offers Shirley his help, and they find out that the pearl is sacred and must be returned to a certain little island or a volcano will erupt and destroy the village. Bing takes Shirley on the trip to the island, and in the meantime begins to fall in love with her. In the long run, Shirley finds out that it was all a publicity stunt manufactured by the Imperial Pineapple Company. She returns to her hotel to find her father and fiancée waiting for her. Her fiancée wants to take her home to marry her. Bing meanwhile wants to destroy the articles that he had written for the publicity department, and he tells Shirley he wants to marry her. However, Shirley is still angry and tells Bing that she will return home with her father. Bing boards the ship and tries to rekindle his romance with Shirley by singing in the next state room to her. Shirley reports him, and he is kicked off the boat. Bing and Shirley are reunited after an old lady hired by Bing to pose as his mother visits Shirley and persuades her that it is Bing who she is meant to be with. So basically, Bing gets Shirley to fall in love with him by lying to her, and he wins her back the same way!


Regarding the cast, his love interest Shirley Ross was one of the underrated actresses of the 1930s. If you remember her, she duetted with Bob Hope on his breakthrough song “Thanks For The Memory” in Paramount’s The Big Broadcast Of 1938. However, Hollywood never knew what to do with Shirley. She mostly starred either opposite Bob Hope or Bing Crosby, and by the 1940s her career was in decline. She appeared opposite Bob Burns on his radio show in the mid-1940s, but retired soon after to take care of her ailing husband. She died unknown in 1975, but Bing and Bob reportedly sent a 5-foot tall cross with white carnations and a spray of red roses to her funeral. Bing and Shirley had great chemistry in the film, and when they sang “Blue Hawaii” together you believed they were falling for each other. The supporting cast was equally as good with Bob Burns (whom I never really cared for) and Martha Raye playing off each other well. Also rounding out the cast was familiar supporting performers like Leif Erikson, Grady Sutton, and a young Anthony Quinn....

TO BE CONTINUED...



Thursday, November 3, 2022

2022 BING CROSBY FILM FESTIVAL

If you are in Spokane in December, you might want to check out this wonderful film festival...



SPOKANE, Wash. — If you’re not the biggest fan of Halloween or Thanksgiving, you’ll want to circle this on your calendar.

The 2022 Bing Crosby Holiday Film Festival is coming back to Spokane in December. On December 10-11, you can watch some of Crosby’s best films, including two showings of his most famous movie “White Christmas.” The festival will also debut his rarely seen 1938 musical “Sing You Sinners.”

There will also be live performances from The Zonky Jazz Band and Howard Crosby, who is the son of Bing’s brother, Ted. Howard will perform with the popular Celtic Christmas trio Everdream formerly known as “Affiniti.”

This is also the 80th year of Crosby’s recording of Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas,” one of the most popular songs around Christmastime.

The special weekend benefit event will happen at the Bing Crosby Theater in downtown Spokane.

The event is put on by the non-profit Bing Crosby Advocates. 

Here is the schedule for the movie: showings:

SATURDAY, DEC. 10 
Noon to 2:00 p.m. – “White Christmas”
2:45 to 4:15 p.m. – “Road to Utopia”
5:30 to 6:30 p.m. – Howard Crosby
7:00 to 9:00 p.m. – “White Christmas”

SUNDAY, DEC. 11
Noon to 2:40 p.m. – “The Bells of St. Mary’s”
3:00 to 4:30 p.m. – “Sing You Sinners”
5:45 to 6:30 p.m. – The Zonky Jazz Band
7:00 to 9:00 p.m. – Howard Crosby and Everdream (formerly “Affiniti”)

Proceeds from the event will go to the Bing Crosby House Museum on Gonzaga’s campus at 508 E. Sharp Ave. in Spokane.

Tickets cost $20, but are free for those who are 17 years old and younger. Tickets are on sale at TicketsWest.com.



Friday, October 14, 2022

STORIES ABOUT BING: ROSEMARY CLOONEY

In this touching remembrance, Rosemary Clooney remembers when Bing died:

We closed [at the London Palladium] and had one night off before we did one more concert in Brighton. That would be our last concert together. The hall in Brighton was called either the Brighton Civic Center or Brighton Convention Center .... There was no real stage, a temporary one was built from platforms that were brought in. There were bleachers and thousands of people for the show. There were no wings as such, but we could open a door to the audience and look out. Kathryn said to me, "Do you notice anything about the audience tonight? ... They're very demonstrative when we finish a number, but when they're sitting there, they look as though they're in church. Take a look."

Bing was on stage and I looked outside and it was true. There was really a reverence about it. It was totally different from any other audience that we ever had. I remember that more vividly in hindsight because of events, rapidly approaching, that would have a traumatic effect not only one our lives but also on the world of music lovers.

After the show I was dressing on a different floor from Bing and Kathryn. It was a big building, and the mob of people had sort of surged through the doors and were half backstage when Bing started his run for the waiting car. I came down some stairs, I remember, and caught him halfway in the hall and said, "I'm not going to see you anymore," meaning that I was not going to see him in England as I was returning to Los Angeles. Bing said, on the run, "I'll buy you dinner when I get home."

It was the last time I saw him. The following morning I went to record my part for the BBC -- a radio show we were supposed to do together -- and Bing was going to record his part the following day because I had to leave right away. I did my half of the dialog even "Over to you, Bing ...." Little lines like that so they could cut them together. I also did my part of the music and then Bing came in after I'd left. That was the last singing he had done with an orchestra.

Thursday I spent in Washington, D.C., with my daughter, who was celebrating her birthday. Friday morning I awakened in my bedroom and was kind of half unpacking from the trip. As usual, all the kids who were at home were on the bed with me and everybody was talking up a storm when the phone rang. It was my brother, Nicky, calling from Cincinnati. Miguel picked up the other phone, which started ringing simultaneously. I started to pick up the phone to talk to my brother when Miguel said,"I've got to talk to you."


"Well, just let me talk to Nicky and then I'll talk to you."

"No, Mother, I've got to talk to you first." He looked so somberly serious. "It's really bad. I mean really bad."

I thought something had happened to one of my children and I looked for answers.

"Bing's dead!"

My brother confirmed it. He was calling because he had just picked it up on the wire services at ABC, where he is the anchorman for the evening news in Cincinnati.

After talking to Kathryn I flew up to Hillsborough to spend the night with her. I was struck by the remarkable way she handled the situation. She started calling Bing's friends around the world. I don't think she got any sleep at all that night, because she waited until the time was right in each zone to she wouldn't be waking anybody. It was the kind of consideration wherein she had no consideration at all for her own feelings.

I wanted to cancel my work until after Bing's funeral, but Kathryn said, "No. Don't do that. Go to your work." I think she was right. It was better to keep in motion ....

Bing had strong feelings about some things, but he didn't approach you directly with them. He knew how close my sister, Betty, was to me, but when she died, he never spoke to me directly about it -- but he cared about it, about my feelings. He called Miguel twice and wanted to know from him about it. "Now tell me what happened," he said. "How did it happen? And how is your mother? How is she taking it?"

Bing cared, but he was the kind of man who would never intrude on what he felt was private. He was some kind of gentleman, and I was privileged to have had him as a friend and to have had so many wonderful times with him over the years....



Tuesday, October 11, 2022

REMEMBERING ANGELA LANSBURY (1925-2022)

 Bing and the late Angela Lansbury never worked together, but she visited him at Paramount Studios in 1949. Bing showed off his Christmas present to Angela Lansbury on Jan. 7, 1949. Cameraman Crosby is all excited about his new camera.

RIP - Angela Lansbury...




Sunday, October 2, 2022

A LETTER FROM BING: APRIL 2, 1971

 Bing was pretty prolific in his writing of letters. He wrote a ton of letters to his many fans, and he also would write letters to fellow stars. Here is a letter he wrote to his idol Louis Armstrong on April 2, 1971. Sadly, Louis passed away on July 6, 1971...





Tuesday, September 20, 2022

BING'S DISCOGRAPHY: September 20, 1937

Here is what Bing recorded today - some 85 years ago! It doesn't seem like it should be that long ago!




Date: 9/20/37

Location: Los Angeles, Calif
Label: DECCA (US)

Bing Crosby (voc), John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra (orc)

a. DLA939-A Can I Forget You?(Oscar Hammerstein II, Jerome Kern) - 2:53
b. DLA940-A The Folks Who Live On The Hill(Oscar Hammerstein II, Jerome Kern) - 3:06
c. Rehearsal-6 seconds The Folks Who Live On The Hill(Oscar Hammerstein II, Jerome Kern) - 0:06
d. DLA940-B test The Folks Who Live On The Hill(Oscar Hammerstein II, Jerome Kern) - 3:07
e. DLA941-A I Still Love To Kiss You Goodnight(Walter Bullock, Harold Spina) - 3:10
f. DLA942-A Remember Me?(Al Dubin, Harry Warren) - 2:59





Monday, September 12, 2022

NEW CD: WHITE CHRISTMAS AND HOLIDAY INN SOUNDTRACK

Sepia has done it again with this new Bing release just in time for the holidays...



Title: White Christmas & Holiday Inn (2 CD Set)
Artist: Various
Catalogue No.: SEPIA 1376
Barcode: 5055122113768
Release Date: October 2022

This is the first CD release of the complete film scores for both 'White Christmas' and 'Holiday Inn' derived from pre-recordings made during the film making process. Also included is a previously unreleased 1942 recording of 'White Christmas' as sung by Bing Crosby, and Rosemary Clooney's thrilling 1953 soundtrack sessions recorded for Irving Berlin's White Christmas!




CD 1

WHITE CHRISTMAS

1. VISTAVISION FANFARE The Paramount Studio Orchestra
2. WHITE CHRISTMAS MAIN TITLE The Paramount Studio Orchestra 
3. SANTA CLAUS Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye
4. WHITE CHRISTMAS Bing Crosby
5. WE'LL FOLLOW THE OLD MAN Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye 
6. HEAT WAVE, LET ME SING AND I'M HAPPY, BLUE SKIES Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye 7. SISTERS Rosemary Clooney, Trudy Stevens
8. THE BEST THINGS HAPPEN WHILE YOU'RE DANCING Danny Kaye
9. SNOW Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, Trudy Stevens
10. SISTERS (Reprise) Rosemary Clooney, Trudy Stevens
11. I'D RATHER SEE A MINSTREL SHOW, MANDY Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney
12. COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS INSTEAD OF SHEEP Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney
13. CHOREOGRAPHY Danny Kaye
14. THE BEST THINGS HAPPEN WHILE YOU'RE DANCING (reprise) The Skylarks 
15. ABRAHAM Instrumental
16. LOVE, YOU DIDN'T DO RIGHT BY ME Rosemary Clooney
17. WHAT CAN YOU DO WITH A GENERAL Bing Crosby
18. WE'LL FOLLOW THE OLD MAN (Reprise) Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye
19. GEE, I WISH I WAS BACK IN THE ARMY Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, Trudy Stevens
20. WHITE CHRISTMAS FINALE (version 1) The Paramount Studio Orchestra
21. WHITE CHRISTMAS FINALE (version 2) Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, Trudy Stevens
22. WHITE CHRISTMAS FINALE (version 3) Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, Trudy Stevens
23. WHITE CHRISTMAS FINALE (version 4) Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, Trudy Stevens
24. WHITE CHRISTMAS Rosemary Clooney
25. SISTERS Rosemary, Betty Clooney 
26. SNOW Rosemary Clooney
27. COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS INSTEAD OF SHEEP Rosemary Clooney
28. LOVE, YOU DIDN'T DO RIGHT BY ME Rosemary Clooney
29. IRVING BERLIN'S WHITE CHRISTMAS THEATRE LOBBY ANNOUNCEMENT Bing Crosby




CD 2

HOLIDAY INN

1. HOLIDAY INN MAIN TITLE The Paramount Studio Orchestra 
2. I'LL CAPTURE YOUR HEART Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, Virginia Dale
3. LAZY Bing Crosby 
4. YOU'RE EASY TO DANCE WITH Fred Astaire
5. WHITE CHRISTMAS Bing Crosby, Martha Mears
6. HAPPY HOLIDAY Bing Crosby, Martha Mears
7. LET'S START THE NEW YEAR RIGHT Bing Crosby
8. YOU'RE EASY TO DANCE WITH Bob Crosby and his Band
9. ABRAHAM Bing Crosby, Martha Mears
10. BE CAREFUL IT'S MY HEART Bing Crosby 
11. I CAN'T TELL A LIE Fred Astaire
12. EASTER PARADE Bing Crosby
13. SAY IT WITH FIRECRACKERS / SONG OF FREEDOM Bing Crosby
14. SAY IT WITH FIRECRACKERS Bob Crosby and his Band
15. INSTRUMENTAL REPRISE: LET'S START THE NEW YEAR RIGHT, ABRAHAM, BE CAREFUL IT'S MY HEART, EASTER PARADE, YOU'RE EASY TO DANCE WITH, HAPPY HOLIDAY, WHITE CHRISTMAS
16. I'VE GOT PLENTY TO BE THANKFUL FOR Bing Crosby
17. WHITE CHRISTMAS (reprise) Martha Mears
18. CLOSING MEDLEY: I'LL CAPTURE YOUR HEART, LET'S START THE NEW YEAR RIGHT Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, Martha Mears, Virginia Dale

HOLIDAY INN RADIO PREVIEW:

19. INTRODUCTION and HAPPY HOLIDAY Bing Crosby
20. I'LL CAPTURE YOUR HEART Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, Betty Rhodes
21. BE CAREFUL IT'S MY HEART Bing Crosby, Betty Rhodes
22. I CAN'T TELL A LIE Fred Astaire
23. EASTER PARADE Bing Crosby
24. ABRAHAM Bing Crosby, Betty Rhodes
25. WHITE CHRISTMAS Bing Crosby
26. LET'S START THE NEW YEAR RIGHT Betty Rhodes, Bing Crosby
27. YOU'RE EASY TO DANCE WITH Fred Astaire
28. SONG OF FREEDOM Bing Crosby
29. CLOSING ANNOUNCEMENT
30. WHITE CHRISTMAS Bing Crosby  



SOURCE


Sunday, September 4, 2022

WHEN BING MET LOUIS ARMSTRONG

Two of the world’s greatest singers and performers, Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong, struck up a friendship during the golden era of Hollywood, leading to the release of many classic songs and hit movies. Their friendship was based on mutual admiration and respect for each other’s work, as well as a shared sense of fun.

American singer and actor Crosby said in an interview that the happiest times in his entire career were those he spent working with Armstrong, who was a celebrated vocalist, trumpeter, composer and actor. They were friends for almost half a century, after meeting in their youth.

How did they meet?

Crosby, born in May 1903 in Tacoma, Washington, was a fledgling singer working with the Paul Whiteman Orchestra in Chicago in the 1920s. At the same time, Armstrong, born in New Orleans in August 1901, rose to prominence as an inventive trumpeter and cornet player.

When Bing Crosby met Louis Armstrong, neither of them had begun the Hollywood entertainment careers for which they later became famous. In 1926, Crosby, who was 23 years old at the time, was urged by fellow singer Mildred Bailey to check out Armstrong’s live show at Chicago’s Sunset Café.

Crosby grabbed a front row seat and was mesmerized by 25-year-old Armstrong’s performance. The jazz trumpeter’s unique singing and lively showmanship grabbed the audience’s attention from the outset. He sang and played trumpet with passion and panache, while also injecting humor into his show – a combination which went down a storm.


Crosby and Armstrong started chatting, and 24 years later, Crosby said in an interview that he wished to “acknowledge his debt” to Armstrong, describing him as “the beginning and the end” of music in the United States. Crosby incorporated what he had learned from Armstrong and jazz music into his own singing style.

The respect was certainly mutual, as Armstrong later said that at the time of his Sunset Café gigs, he listened to Crosby’s singing and thought he was a “natural genius”. In 1926, Crosby released his first record, I’ve Got the Girl. He went on to make several records with The Rhythm Boys, which Armstrong also enjoyed.

Armstrong incorporated elements of Crosby’s singing style, known as “crooning”, into his own ballads, such as his 1931 recordings, Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams and Stardust. He said Crosby’s voice had a unique “mellow quality” like “gold poured out of a cup”.

In a 1955 interview with Time magazine, Armstrong described Crosby as “one of the finest guys in this wonderful world” with a “big heart”.

So it was no surprise that the duo realized how well they worked together in the 1930s, when they both became regular fixtures on the NBC radio show, Kraft Music Hall. Crosby was the host of the show and Armstrong made regular appearances. They continued to work together on the radio for many years.

Their first film together was the musical, Pennies From Heaven, in 1936. Crosby, a major star of the era by this time, insisted Armstrong was given equally prominent billing and that he was featured on the film’s poster.


They recorded the soundtrack from the film, including a successful version of the title song, with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, achieving commercial success. Over the next decade, Armstrong worked with Bing’s brother, Bob Crosby, a jazz singer, playing on television shows with his band, Armstrong’s All Stars.

They collaborated again on the big screen in 1951 in the Frank Capra film, Here Comes The Groom. The film included a jam session featuring Crosby, Armstrong and Dorothy Lamour. The same year, Crosby and Armstrong played a live version of Gone Fishin’ on a radio show with the John Scott Trotter Orchestra.

It was a huge success, going down so well with the studio audience that Decca later released it as a single and it peaked at number 19 in the US singles chart.

One of the biggest successes of their career was the renowned MGM movie, High Society, in 1956. They starred alongside Frank Sinatra, Grace Kelly and Celeste Holm, with the score composed by Cole Porter. Afterwards, Crosby revealed it was his favourite film of all the movies he made during his long career.


The cast had great fun making the film because Armstrong and his band the All-Stars had impromptu jamming sessions between takes and were always laughing and bantering. Armstrong and Crosby sang Now You Has Jazz, their voices filled with their own unique character, with Crosby adopting a swing style.

Crosby and Armstrong continued to collaborate on records in the 1960s, releasing the album, Bing and Satchmo (Armstrong’s nickname). Containing 12 songs recorded with the Billy May Orchestra, the tracks included Rocky Mountain Moon and At the Jazz Band Ball.

Crosby always had fond memories of recording Bing and Satchmo. He said he had never met anyone who didn’t love Louis, adding, “It was a pleasure to be around him.”

Their final television appearance together was the 1967 show, Hollywood Palace, which ended poignantly with them walking off the stage together through the closing curtains.

The two remained friends until Armstrong’s death in July 1971. Crosby died six years later, in October 1977. His son, Gary Crosby, said that Louis and Bing had a great respect and affection for each other throughout their lives...


Sunday, August 21, 2022

PHOTOS OF THE DAY: BING AND CAROL BURNETT

 Two of my favorite entertainers of all time were Bing Crosby and Carol Burnett. They only worked together in television, but I wish they would have done more projects together. Thankfully we have some memories of their times together...














Monday, August 1, 2022

COMING SOON: THREE NEW BING FILMS TO BLU-RAY

 On August 23rd - Universal will be releasing three new Bing movies on DVD!

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

Description: Bing Crosby stars in this light and lively musical version of Mark Twain's timeless comedy. Der Bingle is a turn-of-the-century blacksmith who is knocked unconscious only to awaken in sixth-century Camelot. But thanks to some American know-how, the crooner is quickly hailed as a wiz of a wizard and granted the right to teach Rhonda Fleming, the King's fetching niece, some decidedly contemporary romantic tricks. Alas, there's trouble afoot when Bing locks "magical" horns with the all-powerful Merlin and is challenged to a joust by Sir Lancelot for the hand of the beautiful princess! Co-starring Sir Cedric Hardwicke and William Bendix, the classic fantasy also features a marvelous score by Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke, along with such hits as "Busy Doing Nothing" and "Once and for Always."


Welcome Stranger

Description: Academy Award winners Bing Crosby and Barry Fitzgerald re-team in Welcome Stranger - their follow-up film to Best Picture winner Going My Way. Dr. McRory (Fitzgerald) is a crotchety old physician who decides to take his first vacation in years. He requests a substitute doctor and gets Jim Pearson (Crosby), a brash young man who immediately rubs him the wrong way. So Dr. McRory decides to forget the vacation and stay home to protect his practice. This puts the two men at each other's throats -- and the fun begins! Filled with classic Bing Crosby songs, this heartwarming comedy gem is just what the doctor ordered.


Here Is My Heart

Description: Bing Crosby, Kitty Carlisle and Roland Young star in Here is My Heart, a delightful musical comedy about the outrageous lengths people will go to fall in love! Popular singer Jasper Jones (Crosby) is known to many but not to woman he wants to meet most Russian Princess Alexandra (Carlisle). While in the French Riviera, Jasper pretends to be a penniless waiter to get closer to the princess in an attempt to win her affections. Featuring several great songs by Bing Crosby including "Love is Just Around the Corner'' and "June in January", this elegant romance showcases all the crazy things we do for love.






Sunday, July 24, 2022

BING AND MINUTE MAID

Bing owned a stake in Minute Maid orange juice for a long time, and here is a cool ad which shows his likeness from 1953...



...



Saturday, July 9, 2022

BING ON FILM: ROAD TO UTOPIA - PART TWO

The movie was finally released on March 22, 1946, and Road to Utopia was a big success. I haven’t watched the movie in about five years so it was nice to have a reason to view the film again. Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, and Dorothy Lamour were at the top of their careers when this movie was filmed. 

An oddity in the film that I never understood was the inclusion of Robert Benchley in the film. Benchley was a humorist who became a film actor. He was added to Road to Utopia as a “narrator” in the film, but he adds very little to the movie. Benchley, who suffered from cirrhosis of the liver, died on November 21, 1945 at the age of 56. He died before the movie premiered. Benchley’s appearance is one of my only real complaints of the film.

The chemistry of Bing, Bob, and Dorothy was amazing, and the team looked like they were having fun but that was not always the case. There is an urban legend that Bob Hope recalled that during the scene where he and Bing Crosby were bedding down beside their cabin in the Klondike, they were to be joined by a bear. They were told that the bear was tame and its trainer would always be nearby. Against their better judgment they went along with it. However, when the cameras started filming, the bear ambled over to Hope and, instead of lying down next to him like it was supposed to, the animal sniffed him and started growling. Hope and Crosby immediately stopped the scene and refused to work with the bear any longer, despite the trainer's protestations that it was tame and harmless. The next day the bear attacked its trainer and tore his arm off. In another scene, Bing and Bob were supposed to be climbing an ice-covered cliff when the rope broke, and the safety mattress was out of place. Bob fell on Bing who suffered some back problems because of it.

People went to see Road to Utopia for the laughs and the fun, but Bing’s vocalizing was also a big draw. The music was written by Johnny Burke and Jimmy Van Heusen, who wrote most of Bing’s film music during this time. Like I said earlier, it is a shame that Bing and Bob never recorded the song “Goodtime Charlie” commercially, but they did record another song from the film that was one of their most famous songs – “Put It There, Pal”. Dorothy sang two great songs “Personality” and “Would You” in the film, both of which Bing recorded for Decca. Bing also got the opportunity to sing a philosophical number “It’s Anybody Spring”, and a traditional love song for the movie “Welcome to My Dream”. “Welcome To My Dream” is not very well remembered today, but I think it’s one of the most beautiful love songs Bing sang in a Road movie. Bing’s version of “Personality” was the biggest hit of the film. Recorded with Eddie Condon’s Orchestra, Bing turned it into a great jazz song, and it rose to number #9 on the American charts in 1946.

The critics really loved Road to Utopia too. Bosley Crowther of The New York Times wrote: "Not since Charlie Chaplin was prospecting for gold in a Hollywood-made Alaska many long years ago has so much howling humor been swirled with so much artificial snow as it is in “Road to Utopia,” which came to the Paramount yesterday." Variety also wrote: "The highly successful Crosby-Hope-Lamour “Road” series under the Paramount banner comes to attention once again in “Road to Utopia,” a zany laugh-getter which digresses somewhat from pattern by gently kidding the picture business and throwing in unique little touches, all with a view to tickling the risibilities. Very big box office results assured.” Road to Utopia was one of the top ten grossing movies of 1946, and it was Bing’s highest grossing movie that year next to The Bells of St. Mary’s.

The movie does not offer an exotic location like Singapore or Zanzibar, but it is such a fun movie. Even if you are not a fan of classic movies, you can enjoy and appreciate the comedy and the fun that the team had. Bing Crosby was in great voice for the film, Bob Hope’s comedic timing was perfect, and Dorothy Lamour looked beautiful as always. What else could the audience ask for! I recommend taking a road trip and going on a holiday with Road to Utopia. Send me a postcard, and you will not be disappointed!

MY RATING: 9 out of 10




Wednesday, June 29, 2022

BING ON FILM: ROAD TO UTOPIA - PART ONE

I have always loved the Road movies, so I figured I would review my favorite film of the series – 1946’s Road to Utopia. The pairing of Bing Crosby and Bob Hope was comedy gold, although I have to admit that I have never cared for Bob Hope much. I liked Bob in the Road movies and his more dramatic roles (especially 1959’s Beau James), but other than that I never cared much for his movies. The duo of Bing and Bob definitely had fun in these movies, and Road to Utopia, the fourth film in the series, was no different. Filmed between December of 1943 and March of 1944, the film was not released until 1946 because the studio did not want the movie to overshadow Bing’s role in Going My Way, which the studio was pushing for him to get an acting nomination for at the Academy Awards. Of course, as we all know Bing got the nomination and took home the best actor award.

The plot of the movie, like most of the other Road movies did not seem to matter much. In my opinion the plot of Road to Utopia was the most complicated of any of the Road movies. The opening of the movie finds Bob and his wife (Dorothy Lamour) now elderly. There’s a knock on their door, and in walks Bing and the trio reminisce about their adventure in the Klondike. In the next scene we flashback to the turn of the twentieth century. Bing and Bob are vaudeville performers and minor scam artists. They open with a rousing song “Goodtime Charlie” that I wish they would have recorded commercially. They try to scam their audience at a performance, but they are discovered and try to run away to Alaska. They stow away on a ship going to Alaska, and while on the boat they bump into two real life murdering criminals called Sperry and McGurk. Bing and Bob manage to tie up the real criminals, and they steal their identity not fully knowing who they came across. Bing and Bob stole Sperry and McGurk’s jackets to look more tough as well. Unknowingly to the boys, the one jacket has a copy of a map which was the directions to a gold mine worth millions.

Arriving in Alaska, the boys were amazing that everyone was afraid of them. At a local saloon they meet up with Dorothy Lamour and are instantly smitten. Dorothy, thinking the boys are Sperry and McGurk tries to seduce both of them to get the map off of them. Bing and Bob discover they have the map, and they decide to split the map in two with each of them getting a piece one will not be able to scam the other. Dorothy follows them, and the boys admit to Dorothy at this point that they are not Sperry and McGurk. Dorothy realizes how much she loves Bing, but she still steals the map for the owner of the saloon where she sang. Bing and Bob are finally confronted by the real Sperry and McGurk, who they escape from again, but at this point the boys realize that Dorothy stole the map.

Bing and Bob manage to escape from the real killers and go back to town to find Dorothy. They try to readopt their Sperry and McGurk personas but discover that they are likely to be hanged for their past crimes. The boys scare off the posse who wants to hang them with a stick of dynamite and rescue Dorothy. Bing and Bob leave the dynamite lit just as the real Sperry and McGurk arrive, and the explosion kills the real criminals. Bing, Bob, and Dorothy escape, but the ice splits on the frozen tundra leaving Bob and Dorothy on one side, and Bing on the other side with the mob quickly approaching. Bing throws Bob his portion of the map, and Bing tells Bob to take care of Dorothy as Bing turns around to face the mob. The movie scene then changes to the present, with the aged Bing telling Bob and Dorothy how he escaped the mob. Bing is surprised to hear that Bob and Dorothy have a son. The son walks down the stairs and looks exactly like Bing. At this point Bob looked into the camera and said, “We adopted him.” By far, this is one of the greatest endings of any Road movie, and I am actually surprised this got by the censors....

TO BE CONTINUED...


Monday, June 20, 2022

NEW CD: BING CROSBY - KRAFT MUSIC HALL TIME

New from Sepia! 68 tracks from the Kraft Music Hall broadcasts from 1936 to 1946 sung by host Bing Crosby, many appearing on CD for the first time. Most of these songs were never commercially recorded by him....




CD1

1. You're a Double Lovely
2. I've Been Floating down the Old Green River
3. Someone Else May Be There While I'm Gone
4. I Want a Girl (Just Like the Girl That Married Dear Old Dad)
5. We've Come a Long Way Together
6. South of the Border
7. Just A Dream of You, Dear
8. After All
9. Silver Threads Among the Gold
10. Confucius Say
11. Say Si Si
12. Love Is All
13. I've Got My Eyes on You
14. The Woodpecker Song
15. Cecilia
16. Playmates
17. Make Believe Island
18. Ferry-Boat Serenade
19. The Moon Won't Talk
20. You Ain't Kiddin' - with Connee Boswell
21. My Mind's On You
22. Two Hearts That Pass in the Night
23. All Through the Night
24. The Band Played On 
25. Blues in the Night
26. Chattanooga Choo-Choo
27. Rose O'Day - with Mary Martin 
28. Home on the Range
29. Who Calls?
30. Darling Nellie Gray
31. Make Believe
32. Mary
33. People Like You and Me - with Mary Martin 
34. For Me and My Gal
35. Brazil
36. Nevada

CD2

1. I've Heard That Song Before
2. Put Your Arms Around Me, Honey
3. Cuddle Up a Little Closer
4. The Way You Look Tonight - with Trudy Erwin 
5. Wonderful One
6. Candlelight and Wine 
7. My Ideal
8. Old Folks at Home 
9. Louise 
10. Something to Remember You By - with Marilyn Maxwell 
11. So Do I - with Eugenie Baird 
12. Dance with a Dolly
13. Blue Hawaii
14. Sweet Leilani
15. Empty Saddles
16. Down by the River
17. We'll Make Hay While the Sun Shines
18. Here Lies Love 
19. Dinah
20. Please 
21. I Haven't Time to Be a Millionaire 
22. I Dream of You (More than You Dream I Do)
23. That Old Black Magic
24. A Little on the Lonely Side
25. After a While 
26. Like Someone in Love
27. Candy
28. May I? / Good Night Lovely Little Lady 
29. The Funny Old Hills 
30. I Have Eyes
31. There's a Small Hotel
32. Hang Your Heart on a Hickory Limb / That Sly Old Gentleman 

See more: SEPIA RECORDS




Friday, June 10, 2022

STORIES ABOUT BING: MEL TORME

 


Mel Torme was definitely an admirer of Bing. He got to record with Bing early on in Mel's career in the 1940s, and he continued to have great stories about Der Bingle:

"In 1945, my Mel-Tomes and I walked into Decca recording studios in Hollywood to cut our very first record with Bing. We didn't know what to expect. Bing Crosby. A terror? Haughty? Difficult? When he walked in, grinning, relaxed, and friendly, we relaxed as well and proceeded to make what I feel was a very good record. Bing treated us as though we were old friends, making, not forcing, suggestions. There were a few solo spots for me, and I sang them hesitantly. Bing encouraged me to 'sing out' and egged me on during the actual making of the record .... If there is anyone I have modeled myself after over the years, I would have to say it is Bing Crosby.

In 1975 he invited me and my family to lunch at his home just outside of San Francisco. Mary Frances and Harry, Bing's kids, were on hand as well as Kathryn, and it was a funny, jolly, loving luncheon, full of stories and remembrances. After lunch, Bing, sans hairpiece, asked Harry to go get his guitar. We adjourned to the music room, and, just like that, Bing sat down and began to sing. He did about eight tunes, invited me to join him, which I did, and that's the way the afternoon went .... That night he brought the whole family to the Fairmont, sat at a front table (still sans toupee), and stayed through my whole performance. I never quite got over that."