Wednesday, December 21, 2022
Sunday, December 18, 2022
It’s hard to shoot down the movie that brought us the song, “White Christmas,” (talking about Holiday Inn), but it’s not thought of as a classic in the way White Christmas is. Both star Bing Crosby, both take place more or less around a hotel/inn, and both are full of music and a little dancing. If it wasn’t for Holiday Inn, there wouldn’t be a White Christmas movie, but White Christmas goes farther and leaves us with that warm, fuzzy feeling.
Holiday Inn revolves around Jim Hardy (Bing Crosby) wanting to leave show business for the “good life” where he doesn’t have to work much. He opens an inn which is only open on holidays and gets a pretty girl to perform there for him. When Ted Hanover (Fred Astaire) shows up, he wants the girl as his new dance partner, which would take her away from the inn and Jim, who loves her. It’s a bit stale, and has song and focuses too long on dance routines for holidays such as Abe Lincoln’s Birthday, Washington’s Birthday, Valentine’s Day, Independence Day. Though we think of it as a Christmas movie, there’s not a lot of Christmas in it.
White Christmas, on the other hand, takes place in the days leading up to Christmas. After WWII, song and dance act Wallace and Davis (Crosby and Danny Kaye) meet up with a sister act (Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen) who are on their way to Connecticut. When they arrive there, they find their old army sergeant struggling to make ends meet at an old ski lodge when it’s too warm for snow, so they decide to help out by moving the act out there. In the meantime, there’s music and dancing and a little romance. And then it starts to snow.
White Christmas gives us that feeling that only comes once a year whereas Holiday Inn seems more like a farce – trying to pack in as much singing and dancing without a whole lot of plot. Without the one, we wouldn’t have the other, but we don’t need both. Sorry, Holiday Inn, but I’m dreaming of a White Christmas...
Monday, December 12, 2022
Thursday, December 8, 2022
Monday, December 5, 2022
Thursday, December 1, 2022
Tuesday, November 29, 2022
Friday, November 25, 2022
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!”
Monday, November 14, 2022
Friday, November 11, 2022
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....
Monday, November 7, 2022
Thursday, November 3, 2022
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.
5:30 to 6:30 p.m. – Howard Crosby
7:00 to 9:00 p.m. – “White Christmas”
SUNDAY, DEC. 11
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.
Tuesday, November 1, 2022
Monday, October 24, 2022
Friday, October 14, 2022
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."
"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.
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
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
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
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
Catalogue No.: SEPIA 1376
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!
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
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
Sunday, September 4, 2022
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.
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
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...
Sunday, August 14, 2022
Friday, August 5, 2022
Monday, August 1, 2022
On August 23rd - Universal will be releasing three new Bing movies on DVD!
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."
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.
Monday, July 25, 2022
Sunday, July 24, 2022
Monday, July 18, 2022
Monday, July 11, 2022
Saturday, July 9, 2022
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 recalled that during the scene where he and 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
Thursday, July 7, 2022
Wednesday, June 29, 2022
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...