Tuesday, November 29, 2022


Friday, November 25, 2022


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!”


Friday, November 11, 2022


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....


Thursday, November 3, 2022


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:

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”

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.