Sunday, February 27, 2022


 I feel a dying form of art in the music world is sheet music. Some of the sheet music from the 1930s and 1940s were really beautiful. I don't actively collect sheet music, but I keep some sheet music of Bing Crosby handy. Here are some sheet music covers from songs that Bing made famous...

Tuesday, February 15, 2022



The plot was slight, but the original story was much more different than what was filmed. According to Gary Giddins in his Bing Crosby biography “A Pocketful of Dreams”, Gary writes “The script somehow devolved from the story of Edwards to the story of Bing. By the time it was ready to shoot, The Star Maker so little resembled Edwards and his career that the name of the protagonist was changed to Larry Earl”. Bing himself would go on and comment about the film in 1976 that it was the most difficult film he had ever made because the director Roy Del Ruth wanted to film the original story, but he disliked what was done with the script. Roy had go ahead with the movie, but he was not happy.

Like most Bing movies of the day, the audience was not there for the plot but the music. Bing got to sing some older Gus Edwards composed songs like “If I Was A Millionaire”, “Sunbonnet Sue”, “In My Merry Oldsmobile”, and my personal favorite “School Days”. I taught my 8-year-old daughter to sing the song when she was five, and she still sings it now! Most if the songs that Gus Edwards wrote were written around the turn of the century, so they were pretty old when this movie was coming out in 1939. Some more contemporary songs were written for the film as well by Johnny Burke and Jimmy Van Heusen like: “Go Fly A Kite”, “A Man and His Dream”, “An Apple for The Teacher”, and my favorite song of the film “Still the Bluebird Sing” which is pretty forgotten today. Bing recorded these new songs for Decca, and his biggest hit was “An Apple for The Teacher” which he recorded as a duet with Connee Boswell.

The rest of the cast was great in The Star Maker. Bing’s leading lady as mentioned earlier was Louise Campbell. Campbell did not have much to do in the movie but frown when Bing made bad decisions. Louise never became a big star and only made movies for a decade between 1937 and 1947 before retiring from movies. Character actor and comic crabby Ned Sparks is a great comic foil in the movie, and he appeared with Bing earlier at MGM in 1933’s Going Hollywood. Some other great character actors appear in the film like Laura Hope Crews, Thurston Hall, Billy Gilbert, and Clara Blankdick – who would be appearing that year as Aunt Em in MGM’s The Wizard Of Oz. The Star Maker also tried to make a star out of newcomer Linda Ware. Billed third, Paramount was hopeful that Linda be their answer to Universal’s Deanna Durbin. Linda Ware was likeable in the movie, but she was involved in a custody case between her parents which would ruin any chances she had for stardom. She made a total of two movies, and then faded into obscurity.

Sure, The Star Maker bore little resemblance to the life of Gus Edwards, but film biographies of the 1930s and 1940s were not made to accurately portray their subject, they were made to entertain. This film definitely is entertaining. From the first moment of the film when Bing is singing “Jimmy Valentine” to the orphans to the end of the film when Bing is singing “Still the Bluebird Sing” on radio with his kid stars, the 94-minute movie is extremely entertaining. In the beginning of the film, I was tired of Bing being the lazy non-working husband, but Bing always worked well with children, and in this movie he surrounds himself with dozens of them. This movie is not on video or DVD, so it is hard to come by other than a bootleg copy. However, the full fill is available for free on You Tube as of this writing. Do yourself a favor and check out this whimsical and fun musical that Bing ended the decade of the 1930s with! I’m glad I had the opportunity to watch The Star Maker again!

MY RATING: 10 out of 10  

Tuesday, February 1, 2022


 Bing Crosby made countless movies during his 40 plus years in the cinema, and some of his movies that were quite good seem to have fallen through the cracks of time. One such movie was his 1939 effort The Star Maker. Bing made the movie at the time when his stardom was rising and rising. The film was made in Hollywood from May to July of 1939, and it had a quick premiere on August 25, 1939. The film was directed by Roy Del Ruth with new music written by Johnny Burke and Jimmy Van Heusen. The film was “suggested” by the life of Gus Edwards. Edwards was a German songwriter and vaudeville dancer who settled in New York and became a talent scout and produce of children’s revues. Among the children that Gus Edwards discovered was: George Jessel, Eddie Cantor, the Marx Brothers, and Eleanor Powell among countless others.

The movie opens at an orphanage which seems surprisingly happy. The kids are all happy because Bing (as Larry Earl) is there entertaining them with songs. He starts off the movie straight away by singing the song “Jimmy Valentine”. We find out he is there to woo one of the women that work there, played by Louise Campbell. For some reason to me, Campbell always reminded me of Mary Martin. After constantly asking her to marry him, she says yes. Little does she know what she is getting herself into. Bing, in strictly older days fashion, makes her quit her job, and yet he bounces around from job to job! Bing tries his hand at songwriting but that does not work out. Even with the young married couple not having any money, Bing still buys a piano they cannot afford.

His wife convinces him to go on a job interview finally, and as he is walking to the interview, he sees young children performing on the streets. Instantly Bing gets the idea to create a vaudeville act around the children. He brings all these children home without even going on his job interview. Bing tries to get an audition with a stage producer (Thurston Hall) but is unable to. Bing’s wife Mary is tired of him not getting anywhere so she takes it upon herself to hide in the car of the stage producer and talk to him. The producer is so impressed with Bing’s wife that he gives Bing and his kids a chance. On opening night, they sing the great song “Go Fly A Kite”. Bing and his troupe are a success. However, that is not enough for Bing. He is always thinking bigger and bigger!

Bing forms a production company and hires a publicity manager (Ned Sparks), who hates children. They get the idea to tour the country in a train and audition and set up acts all around the country. However, as Bing is reaching the apex of his career as a kiddie show producer, the Children’s Welfare Society gets involved. They will not allow children under twelves of age to perform after 10pm. The Society gets all his shows shut down, but Bing realizes he can use radio to showcase the talent of the children without the interference of the welfare group...