Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Everybody Sing(1938).

Everybody Sing(1938). A musical comedy film starring Judy Garland, Allan Jones, Fanny Brice, Reginald Owen and Billie Burke.

Judy Bellaire, must go home and face her family after being expelled from, Colvin School for Girls for turning her classical music into jazz . Her eccentric father Hillary and mother Diana are too busy with their own lives to deal with her problems. The family servants, Olga Chekaloff and Ricky Saboni and her sister Sylvia, are the only ones who seem to understand.

When backer John Fleming, decides that he won't finance the play, Judy thinks that she can save the play by performing herself. Judy, is sent off to Europe to prevent her from taking a job singing at the Cafe Neppo, but... she sneaks away and becomes a huge success on her own.

Wanting to help his friends the Bellaires, Ricky talks his boss at the Cafe, Signor Giovanni Vittorino, into backing a show starring himself and Judy.

Meanwhile,  Jerrold has threatened to quit Hillary's play and Sylvia promises to marry him. Heartbroken, she sends Olga out with a message for Ricky, but... Olga forgets all about it, when she is given a part in the show.

A child welfare agent, tries to stop Judy from performing in the play because she is under age, but... Olga has the man arrested as a kidnapper. Realizing that Judy is not in Europe and worried that she really has been kidnapped, they go to the police station, where they learn that she is performing in a play. They go to the theater to try and stop her, but... seeing her perform, they realize that the stage is where she belongs.


 "Everybody Sing" is a delightful 1938 film filled with music. Pre-Wizard of Oz, Judy sings with her incredible voice: "Swing Mr. Mendolssohn," "Down to Melody Farm," "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot," and "Ever Since the World Began."

Brice, does a specialty number, and Jones, in his beautiful tenor, sings "The Show Must Go On," "Cosi-Cosa," and "First Thing in the Morning."

Fanny Brice (October 29, 1891 – May 29, 1951) was a popular comedian, singer, theatre and film actress, who made many stage, radio and film appearances and is known as the creator and star of the top-rated radio comedy series, The Baby Snooks Show. Thirteen years after her death, she was portrayed on the Broadway stage by Barbra Streisand in the musical Funny Girl (1968).


Saturday, June 9, 2012

Judy Garland at Carnegie Hall.

Judy at Carnegie Hall is a two-record live recording of a concert performed by Judy Garland at Carnegie Hall in New York.
This concert was held on the night of April 23, 1961, has been called "the greatest night in show business history".

After her battle with drugs and alcohol, she returned to the concert stage with a  program of  'Just Judy.' Garland's 1960-1961 tour of Europe and North America was a huge success and eventually she was known as 'The World's Greatest Entertainer'.

Hedda Hopper (May 2, 1885 – February 1, 1966) was one of the best-known gossip columnists. She had been a small-time actress of stage and screen for years before writing the column "Hedda Hopper's Hollywood' in the Los Angeles Times in 1938. This revealed a gift for invective so vicious that it brought physical retaliation from Spencer Tracy and Joseph Cotten, among others, and she also named suspected communists in the McCarthy era. Hopper continued to write gossip to the end, her work appearing in countless magazines and later on radio.

Hedda Hopper, reviewed Garland's gift of embracing her audience by saying, " I never saw the likes of it in my life." All reviews of the show gave Garland high marks, and commented on her healthy appearance, exuberance, energy, vocal power.

The release of Garland's record set, only two months after the concert, was a huge best seller.. charting for 73 weeks on the Billboard chart, including 13 weeks at number one, and being certified gold. It won four Grammy Awards, for Album of the Year (The first live album and the first album by a female performer to win the award.), Best Female Vocal Performance, Best Engineered Album, and Best Album Cover. The album has never been out of print.

In 2003, the album was one of 50 recordings chosen that year by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Recording Registry.

Video: first of 3.

Friday, June 8, 2012

The Constant Nymph(1943).

The Constant Nymph(1943). A romantic drama. Cast Charles Boyer, Joan Fontaine, Alexis Smith, Brenda Marshall, Charles Coburn, May Whitty, and Peter Lorre. It was adapted by Kathryn Scola from the Margaret Kennedy novel and play by Kennedy and Basil Dean, and directed by Edmund Goulding.

After, composer Lewis Dodd's latest symphony does not go over very well in London, he goes to visit an old friend musician, Albert Sanger. One of Sanger's four daughters Tessa,  falls in love with Lewis and dreams of helping him follow his dream as a composer.

The very ill Sanger has removed his daughters away from society and now worries about what is to become of them. He asks Lewis to inform the girls wealthy uncle, Charles Creighton, if he dies. Soon after, Sanger then scolds Lewis for the lack of feeling in his music. When the girls play a little song that Lewis wrote for them, Sanger tells Lewis that,  the beautiful melody is better than his more intellectual work.

Some time later, Sanger dies. Lewis sends for Creighton, who arrives with his beautiful daughter Florence and Kate travels to Milan to study music and Toni marries wealthy Fritz Bercovy. Lewis and Florence fall in love and when they announce their engagement, the frail Tessa faints. Creighton arranges for Tessa and Paula to attend school in England and Lewis and Florence marry.

Six months later, Lewis is frustrated by Florence trying to take over his career and the couple quarrel constantly. When Tessa and Paula run away from their school, Lewis leaves to look for them, not attending the party that Florence has planned to introduce him to her friends. Lewis, later finds them home waiting for him. Paula leaves to join Fritz and Toni, who is pregnant and Tessa stays with Florence and Lewis. When Tessa hears Lewis' latest composition, based on the song that he wrote for her and her sisters, she believes it is not his best work.

Later, Tessa encourages Lewis to put sentiment back into his music and with Tessa's help, Lewis changes his composition. Florence,  now knows that Tessa is her rival and  tries to get rid of her, but Lewis comes to her defense. The night of the first performance, Lewis realizes that he is in love with Tessa and asks her to go away with him, but Tessa refuses because he is married to her cousin. The excitement of Lewis' proposal and the premiere of his composition causes Tessa to have another fainting spell, and Florence insists that Tessa stay home, rather than attend the concert. Will Lewis' concert go well and will Florence decide to let him go?

Fun Fact: Alfred Hitchcock was considered for directing this film. Hitchcock's wife Alma Reville was one of the writers of The Constant Nymph 1928 version.


 A very romantic film, with beautiful music by Erich Korngold. Alexis Smith as the unloved wife gives a perfect performance, as does Joan Fontaine and Charles Boyer. The supporting actors are also very good, including Charles Coburn, Peter Lorre, Brenda Marshall, Dame May Witty, and Jean Muir. You will  need plenty of Kleenex for the very touching ending.

Brenda Marshall (September 29, 1915 – July 30, 1992) Marshall made her first film appearance in the 1939 Espionage Agent. The following year, she played the leading lady to Errol Flynn in The Sea Hawk. After divorcing actor Richard Gaines in 1940, she married the actor William Holden in 1941 and her own career quickly slowed. She starred opposite James Cagney in the 1942 film Captains of the Clouds. The Constant Nymph (1943) was a popular success but she virtually retired after this, appearing in only four more inconsequential films. Among these, she played scientist Nora Goodrich in the grade-B 1946 cult classic Strange Impersonation.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

They Shall Have Music (1939).

They Shall Have Music(1939). A musical film starring violinist Jascha Heifetz (as himself), Joel McCrea, Andrea Leeds and Gene Reynolds.

The story begins when a boy from the slums named Frankie,  life is changed when hears a performance by violinist Jascha Heifetz.

Inspired by the maestro, Frankie goes back to playing his violin, that his late father had taught him to play.

After his stepfather smashes the violin he threatens to send Frankie  to reform school, Frankie runs away from home and joins up with a music school for underprivileged children run by Professor Lawson and his daughter Ann. Impressed by Frankie's talent, the professor takes him in.

Unknown to the Professor, the school  is threatened by Flower, who insists that the school charge tuition or will be shut it down. When Frankie overhears Ann and Peter McCarthy, discussing the schools financial problems, he and the other children perform on the street.

After hearing the children play, Heifetz shows an interest in the school and Peter, tells them that Heifetz will perform at the children's concert. On the evening of the performance, Flower learns that Peter was lying and sends his men to repossess the instruments.  Will Peter and Frankie find Heifetz, in time to perform with the children and save the school?

Fun Fact: One of the few films in which conductor Alfred Newman actually makes an on-screen appearance.

This film is truly a heart warming, story about poor but musically gifted children fighting to keep their music school open. Gene Reynolds, plays the young boy who's transformed by his love for the violin at a school which becomes the first real family. The performances by the musically gifted children and Heifetz are amazing. The cast including Joel McCrea, Andea Leeds and Walter Brennan make this film a true a treasure.

Full length movie:
Heifetz and his family left Russia in 1917, traveling by rail to the Russian far east and thence by ship to the United States, arriving in San Francisco. On October 27, 1917, Heifetz played for the first time in the United States, at Carnegie Hall in New York, and became an immediate sensation. Fellow violinist Mischa Elman in the audience asked "Do you think it's hot in here?", where the pianist Leopold Godowsky, in the next seat, replied, "Not for pianists." In 1917, Heifetz was elected as an honorary member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, the national fraternity for men in music, by the fraternity's Alpha chapter at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. As he was aged 16 at the time, he was the youngest person ever allowed in the organization. Heifetz remained in the country and became an American citizen in 1925. When he told Groucho Marx he had been earning his living as a musician since the age of seven, Groucho answered, "And I suppose before that you were just a bum.

 Heifetz performed in the movie, They Shall Have Music (1939) directed by Archie Mayo and written by John Howard Lawson and Irmgard von Cube. He played himself, stepping in to save a music school for poor children from foreclosure. He later appeared in the 1947 film, Carnegie Hall, performing an abridged version of the first movement of Tchaikovsky's violin concerto, with the orchestra led by Fritz Reiner, and consoling the star of the picture, who had watched his performance. Heifetz later recorded the complete Tchaikovsky concerto with Reiner and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as one of RCA Victor's "Living Stereo" discs. In 1951, he appeared in the film Of Men and Music. In 1962. he appeared in a televised series of his master classes, and, in 1971, Heifetz on Television aired, an hour-long color special that featured the violinist performing a series of short works, the "Scottish Fantasy" by Max Bruch, and the Chaconne from the Partita No. 2 by Bach. Heifetz even conducted the orchestra, as the surviving video recording documents. The most recent film featuring Heifetz, Jascha Heifetz: God's Fiddler, premiered on April 16, 2011 at the Colburn School of Music. It is "The only film biography of the world's most renowned violinist, featuring family home movies in Los Angeles and all over the world "

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Toumanova and Massine in "Spanish Fiesta" - Finale (1942).

Here's the last movement of Rimsky-Korsakov's "Capriccio Espagnole" danced by the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo.

The entire piece was released as a short entitled "Spanish Fiesta." Later, Massine would appear in "The Red Shoes" and Toumanova in "Torn Curtain." Other dancers here included Danilova, Franklin, Krassovska and Eglevsky. Efrem Kurtz conducted and Jean Negulesco was the director.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

My Wild Irish Rose (1947).

My Wild Irish Rose(1947) film directed by David Butler. cast: Dennis Morgan and Arlene Dahl. It was nominated for an Academy Award in 1948.

A fictionalized bio-pic of Chancellor Olcott, the film showcases the rise of an Irish-American tenor to stardom at the end of the 19th century and start of the 20th.

Olcott's original composition, of the same name, was included in the film's music, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Scoring of a Musical Picture.

Working, as a tugboat operator Chauncey Olcott, has dreams of making it "big" in show business. Soon finds a way into a dinner party in honor of the famous, Miss Lillian Russell, who tells him that he has a wonderful voice. With that Chauncey, decides to tell his mother, that he is ready to leave home to follow his dreams. His mother gives Chauncey his father's watch and asks him not to use his father's name until he can honor it with success. Chauncey, quickly pawns the watch to buy a banjo and using the stage name Jack Chancellor, travels around the country.

When his money for the watch runs out, he trades in his carriage for the lease on a bar. Later, he stops a runaway horse carrying Rose Donovan and immediately falls in love with her. It is not long before Chauncey learns, Nick Popolis, is the real owner of the bar is and demotes Chauncey to janitor and Rose is engaged to Terry O'Rourke.

Rose, Popolis, Terry and her father John, travel to New York to hear Chauncey sing. There, Terry learns of Chauncey's feelings for Rose and sends some of his friends to beat up the singer. After, Chauncey wins the fight with the help of his friends, Rose invites him to meet her and her father at church the next day, but Chauncey, finds himself behind bars. Several days later, Duke Muldoon, another member of the show, pays Chauncey's bail, but he has already lost his job.

Looking for work, Chauncey again meets Lillian Russell, who hires him to sing in her show. When, Rose hears the rumors of a romance between Lillian and Chauncey, she travels to New York to find out for herself. Rose misunderstands, what she finds, heartbroken she returns home.

After Lillian's show closes, Popolis, who manages the Irish singer William Scanlon, hires Chauncey to sing in the show. For the first time, Chauncey performs using his own name.

On St. Patrick's Day, Scanlon is unable to sing, and Chauncey takes his place. Disappointed the crowd is furious, until Chauncey's voice charms them. Scanlon wants Chauncey to be his successor and gives him a watch he received from the Prince of Wales. Will Chauncey win over Rose heart once again?

This very charming musical played beautifully by Dennis Morgan and Arlene Dahl his love interest. There are over 25 songs: Come Down My Evening Star; My Nellie's Blue Eyes; You Tell Me Your Dream; Wait Till The Sun Shines, Nellie; Will You Love Me In December?; By The Light Of The Silvery Moon; Minstrel Days; Polly Wolly Doodle; The Natchez and the Robert E. Lee; Miss Lindy Lou; If I'm Dreaming; Wee Rose of Killarney; Shake Hands; One Little Girl; A Little Bit of Heaven; Mary; Sweet Innescarren; Tiddely Um; When Irish Eyes Are Smiling; Mother Machree; The Kerey Fair; Room In My Heart; My Wild Irish Rose.

Although, the film only earned one Oscar nomination for Scoring. I also think it should have won one for Art Direction and Costume Design.

Arlene Dahl (born August 11, 1925). is an actress and former MGM contract star, who achieved notability during the 1950s. She is the mother of actor Lorenzo Lamas.

 Dahl began her acting career in 1947. She reached the peak of her popularity and success in the 1950s. Some of her films include: Reign of Terror (1949), Three Little Words (1950), Woman's World (1954), Slightly Scarlet (1956), and Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959).

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Sincerely Yours(1955).

Sincerely Yours(1955). Director Gordon Douglas. Cast: Liberace, Joanne Dru and Dorothy Malone.

Kind hearted Pianist Anthony Warrin, dreams of playing Carnegie Hall and is hopeful his dreams will come true when Carnegie representative, J. R. Aldrich, plans to attend one of his concerts.

Tony, goes to visit his former piano teacher and friend, to share the news but, instead Tony finds wealthy Linda Curtis, wanting to take piano lessons. Mistaking, she thinks Tony is Zwolinski and tells him that her parents really want her to take piano lessons. Soon after, Tony invites Linda to dinner and at the Italian restaurant, Tony realizes that his wallet is in his other suit and Linda pays the bill. After dinner, they then decide to go to nightclub, where Tony is asked to play boogie-woogie, with the band.

The next day, Tony and Linda visit a museum, where the guard shows them many antique keyboard instruments played by famous composers and pianists. Tony, plays each one of them and proposes to Linda.

After hearing Tony's performance at the San Francisco concert, Aldrich, sets a date for him to play at Carnegie Hall. Unfortunately, on the night of his Carnegie performance, Tony loses his hearing and must cancel.

Dr. Eubank, finds that his condition can only be cured by a operation, that will either cure him or... leave him permanently deaf. While he decides what to do, Tony takes lessons in lipreading from Mr. Rojeck. Tony, practices lipreading by using Binoculars to watch people in Central Park. He soon becomes interested in a handicapped boy named, Alvie Hunt, whose legs prevent him from playing with other children.

It is not long before Tony, becomes very depressed and almost jumps off the balcony, Marion stops him just in time. Then she encourages him to get out of the apartment more.

When Tony, sees Alvie tell his grandfather, that he has lost all hope, he has Marion take money to the Hunts to pay for Alvie's operation.

During the night, after hearing the tick of a clock, Tony realizes that his hearing has returned, at least for a short time, but continues to watch his friends in Central Park through his binoculars.

Tony, is sadden as he watches Mrs. McGinley and her newly married daughter, Sarah Cosgrove, who meet each week to visit at the park. Sarah, who has married into a wealthy family and is now worried, what her new husband and in-laws might think of her poor mother.

After, Tony sees Sarah cancel an outing with her mother, for a charity event, he invites Mrs. McGinley to the event after giving her a mini-make over. Sarah, happy to see her mother introduces her to the Cosgroves. It is not long after Tony again loses his hearing. Tony asks Sam not to share with Marion with the news. Marion, knowing Linda will take care of Tony, hands in her resignation when the couple set their wedding date.

While standing on the balcony, he watches Linda meeting Howard on a park bench. Tony watches as Linda admits to Howard, that she loves him, but plans to stay with Tony, because of his illness. When she enters the apartment, Tony tells Linda that he saw her with Howard, and believes they belong together.

Tony, gives Alvie a football and helmet, so he can play football with the other children and Alvie gives Tony a charm that he wore in the hospital for luck. Will Tony, have operation to restores his hearing, so he can continue to follow his dreams?

I could not pass up seeing Liberace, perform in this film. It is a very sweet story about hope and faith.

Liberace, always wanted to be an actor. His first movie performance was in, South Sea Sinners(1950), in which he played "a Hoagy Carmichael sort of character with long hair." Liberace also performed as a guest star in two RKO Radio Pictures. Footlight Varieties was an imitation-vaudeville hour released in 1951 and a little-known sequel, Merry Mirthquakes (1953), featured Liberace as master of ceremonies.

He was at the height of his career in 1955 when he starred in, Sincerely Yours with Dorothy Malone, playing 31 songs. The film (about a concert pianist who loses his hearing) was a commercial and critical failure. The film later became successful as a staple of movie programming on television in the late '50s and early '60s.

In 1965, he had a small part in the movie, When the Boys Meet the Girls starring Connie Francis, playing himself. He also performed in 1966 for his brief role as a casket salesman in the film, The Loved One, a story about the funeral business and movie industry in Southern California. It was the only film in which he did not play the piano.

In 1966, Liberace performed in the 1960s TV show Batman with Adam West and Burt Ward, playing a dual role as evil pianist Chandell and his gangster-like twin Harry in the episodes "The Devil's Fingers" and "The Dead Ringers".

In 1970, Liberace appeared on an episode of Here's Lucy, in which Craig (Desi Arnaz Jr.) borrows a candelabra for a high school club initiation.

Television specials were made from Liberace's show at the Las Vegas Hilton in 1978 and 1979 which were broadcast on CBS. These were "Leapin' Lizards It's Liberace" and "Liberace: A Valentine Special."

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Ella Mae Morse, with Freddie Slack and His Orchestra, singing "Cow Cow Boogie".

Ella Mae Morse (September 12, 1924 – October 16, 1999), hired by Jimmy Dorsey when she was 14 years old. Dorsey believed she was 19, and when he was informed by the school board that he was now responsible for her care, he fired her.

In 1942, at the age of 17, she joined Freddie Slack's band, where she recorded "Cow Cow Boogie", Capitol Records' first gold single.

Ella Mae Morse, with Freddie Slack and His Orchestra, singing "Cow Cow Boogie".

Monday, March 5, 2012

Pete Kelly's Blues (1955).

Pete Kelly's Blues(1955). Directed by and starred Jack Webb. Janet Leigh, Peggy Lee, had a chance to really act and act she did in Pete Kelly's Blues earning her an Oscar nomination and many fans... This is one of the few times we get to see her in her heyday, beautiful, young and talented... Other cast members include, Rose Hopkins and Ella Fitzgerald, who makes a cameo as singer Maggie Jackson.

Lee Marvin, Martin Milner and a very young Jayne Mansfield also make early career appearances in minor roles.

Pete Kelly and his Big Seven Band, spend their evenings playing in a Kansas City, Missouri speakeasy. Things are going well for the band, until racketeer Fran McCarg, decides to take over the band and extort them for twenty-five percent of their earnings. Pete and his band, refuses to give into the mobster. Pete's closest friend, clarinetist Al Gannaway, predicts that McCarg will kill one of them.

Their next job is to play at a private party held by rich girl, Ivy Conrad, who is the daughter of a well known family. Pete, is not impressed by her behavior, but agrees to dance with her. When she grabs at his horn to get his attention, he lets her fall into the swimming pool. Meanwhile, McCarg phones the mansion to talk to Pete, but a drunken Joey takes the call and gives him a piece of his mind.

Later, while driving home, the band is run off the road by McCarg's men and Joey is thrown through the windshield. He quickly recovers, but Pete and Al know that their troubles have just begun.

Al, who has had enough of the violence, decides to leave the band. When Pete learns that Joey has had a fight with one of McCarg's men, Pete tries to try to smooth things over.

McCarg bursts into the speakeasy around two in the morning and Pete takes Joey out the back exit, but gunshots blast from a car at the alley entrance and kills Joey.

Later, Pete finds Ivy sleeping in his bed. He tries to send her home, but she refuses and he gives into her charms.

The band leaders meet to discuss putting their money together to buy protection. Thinking they do not stand a chance, Pete tells them that he plans to pay McCarg.

After being warned by singer Maggie Jackson, that a policeman, is looking for him, Pete is stopped by detective George Tenell. The cop wants Pete's help in building a case against McCarg. Back at the speakeasy, where the band is rehearsing, Pete tells McCarg they "have a deal". Despite the difference between the band's style and Rose's, bluesy singing, McCarg forces them to perform together.

One night, when the drunken Rose is ignored by a rowdy crowd, she can not finish her song. McCarg beats her up, as his thugs hold off Pete. Later, Pete learns that Rose suffered serious head injuries and has been admitted to a state asylum.

Angry, Pete accuses McCarg of Joey's murder and tries to quit, but when McCarg threatens him, Pete changes his mind.

Pete postpones his marriage to Ivy, who is broken hearted and breaks it off with him. Because he and Tenell think they can get to McCarg through Bettenhauser. Unfortunately, he ends up missing, Pete then visits Rose at the asylum. Even though, she is barly functioning, she is able to tell him that Bettenhauser is hiding out in Coffeeville, Kansas.

Tenell, contacts the Coffeeville police, and as they wait for them, Bettenhauser has Maggie ask Pete to meet her roadhouse. There, Bettenhauser tells Pete that McCarg ordered Joey's death. For $1,200, Bettenhauser offers to provide documents and cancelled checks that will prove McCarg's guilt. Bettenhauser, then tells him the documents are stored in the ballroom office. Al wants to go with Pete, who knocks him out to keep him from getting hurt.

Ivy wants to dance with him and asks to make up, but in the timing is bad.
Meanwhile McCarg, Bettenhauser and another thug enter and surround them. Pete and Ivy take cover behind tables during the shoot-out. How will Ivy and Pete get out of this alive?

Fun Fact:

Jack Webb actually knew how to play the cornet. He loved jazz music and, as a boy, was given a cornet by a musician who lived near his home. While he never truly mastered the instrument he knew it well enough that his handling and fingering of the cornet in this movie is accurate.

Would you ever think you would see this group of actors in the same movie.? Is it a musical or is it a film noir? Only you can decide.:) Lee Marvin, is amazing good in his small supporting role.. I just love him.. I would give this fast moving film a....B+

Peggy Lee (May 26, 1920 – January 21, 2002) was an  jazz singer, songwriter, composer, and actress in a career spanning six decades. From her beginning as a vocalist on local radio to singing with Benny Goodman's big band, she forged a sophisticated persona, evolving into a multi-faceted artist and performer. She wrote music for films, acted, and created conceptual record albums—encompassing poetry, jazz, chamber pop, and art songs.Lee starred and sang in the hit films The Jazz Singer, Disney's Lady and the Tramp, and Pete Kelly's Blues, for which she received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

In 1952 Lee played opposite Danny Thomas in a remake of the early Al Jolson film, The Jazz Singer. In 1955 she played an alcoholic blues singer in Pete Kelly's Blues, for which she received an Academy Awards nomination. In 1955 Lee did the speaking and singing voices for several characters in Disney's Lady and the Tramp movie: she played the human "Darling" (in the first part of the movie), the dog "Peg", and the two Siamese cats "Si" and "Am". In 1957 Lee guest starred on the short-lived ABC variety program, The Guy Mitchell Show.

In the early 1990s she retained famed entertainment attorney Neil Papiano to sue Disney for royalties on Lady and the Tramp. Lee's lawsuit claimed that she was due royalties for video tapes, a technology that did not exist when she agreed to write and perform for Disney. Her lawsuit was successful.

Never afraid to fight for what she believed in, Lee passionately insisted that musicians be equitably compensated for their work. Although she realized litigation had taken a toll on her health, Lee often quoted Ralph Waldo Emerson on the topic: "God will not have his work be made manifest by cowards."

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Dan Dailey and Betty Grable

Dan Dailey was a very popular musical performer during the 1940's through the 1950's. He may not have been as sophisticated as Astaire and did not have the strong personality as Kelly. Dan's dancing had a certain style all his own.

Betty Grable and Dailey's first film together was, Mother Wore Tights(1947). Betty Grable's most popular film, with Dan Daily her favorite costar. Where they play married vaudeville performers.

Their second performance together was in the film, When My Baby Smiles at Me (1948). The film is about, Bonny Kane and 'Skid' Johnson, who are vaudeville performers. They begin to have trouble in their marriage when when Skid gets an offer to perform on Broadway while Bonny gets left behind. Things get worse with Skids drinking and that he is spending more time with his beautiful co-star.

Third of four movies that paired Betty Grable and Dan Dailey. My Blue Heaven(1950). Jack and Kitty, are performing on their radio show, when Kitty, breaks the news to Jack that she is pregnant. On their way home from their baby shower, Kitty and Jack are in a terrible car accident and Kitty loses the baby and learns that she may never be able to have children.

Later, Jack and Kitty visit Walter and Janet on their farm, where they are welcomed by their 6 children. Janet tells them both that the two oldest children are adopted, as she and Walter thought they would never have children, but the other four are their own children. Kitty and Jack make the decision to adopt, so they talk to an adoption agency. Miss Gilbert, tells Kitty and Jack that they may take up to a year, while a their background is being investigated. Kitty and Jack make their first TV appearance, for their sponsor Cosmo Cosmetics. Miss Gilbert and Miss Evers, drop in unexpectedly to tell them that they have a baby boy for them, but... first they will have to meet with Mrs. Johnston. After Kitty and Jack pick up the baby boy, Mrs. Johnston decides that she will return with them to check out their apartment. Unfortunately, Mrs. Johnston does not like what she sees and refuses to allow the baby to stay there. This begins their long journey to have a career and family. Will their dreams of having children ever come true?

The last performance of Betty Grable and Dan Dailey in a film was, Call me Mister(1951). Set in Japan during the period between World War II and the Korean War. Betty Grable, performed as American USO entertainer Kay Hudson, who runs into former husband Shep Dooley, who wants to win her back.

This movie was really put together to showcase Grable and Dailey dancing skills in routines choreographed by Busby Berkeley.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Judy Garland and Gene Kelly.

Even though Gene Kelly and Judy Garland, had such great respect for each other they only performed in three films together: For Me and My Gal (1942), The Pirate (1948) and Summer Stock (1950).

They met when Gene was performing in, Pal Joey on Broadway. After the show Gene, Judy and her mother, went to the Copacabana club to become more acquainted. After the club closed, Gene and Judy spent the rest of the evening walking through Central Park, talking about doing a movie together.

Gene, always gave Judy credit for helping him learn how to dance in front of a camera as opposed to dancing on stage in front of an audience. The silver screen couple, were very charming together in all their films.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

George White's Scandals (1945).

George White's Scandals (1945). Cast: Joan Davis, Jack Haley, Phillip Terry, Martha Holliday, Ethel Smith, Margaret Hamilton, Glenn Tryon, Jane Greer and Gene Krupa.

At a Scandals Club reunion party, comedienne Joan Mason announces her engagement to fellow performer, Jack Evans. While, everyone is congratulating them, Jill Asbury, the daughter of former Scandals dancer Molly Hogan, introduces herself. Joan invites her to the shows rehearsal.

Things, do not go so well when Jack introduces Joan to his spinster sister Clarabelle, who does not like her and reminds her brother of the promise he made to his dying mother, that he would not marry until after his sister was married.

At rehearsals the next day, manager Tom McGrath, mistakes Jill for one of the chorus girls. Jill pretends to be dancer Jill Martin and asks Joan to keep her secret. Joan, then warns Jill that Tom treats all the chorus girls like sisters. Meanwhile, Joan arranges a date for Clarabelle through an escort service.

Jack has planned a surprise birthday party for his sister and all of the shows performers head over to the Evans house to entertain. Clarabelle, throws an ax at Joan when she discovers that Joan hired at a date for her through the escort service. Joan, thinks it's best to call off their engagement.

At rehearsals the next day, George White is so impressed with Jill's dancing that Tom offers her the closing act. When Billie learns Jill's true identity, she turns her into the British Embassy. Lord Quimby, a representative of the Embassy, comes to the theater to talk her into leaving the show.

When Tom learns that Jill has lied to him about her identity, he becomes very angry and she leaves the show. On opening night, she can not be found and Jack tells Clarabelle that he plans to marry Joan in spite of her wishes. Wanting to put a stop to his plans Clarabelle, then goes to the theater where she is knocked unconscious by a falling sandbag. Before the show Molly and her husband, Lord Asbury, go backstage to tell Mr. White how happy they are about their daughter's appearance in the show, and he let's him know about Jill's disappearance. Jack sees Jill sitting in the audience, and when she sees her parents sitting in their box seats, she decides to go ahead with her performance.

I really enjoyed the lively musical numbers, particularly the first one with Gene Krupa.

Joan Davis (June 29, 1907 – May 22, 1961), was a performer since childhood. She appeared with her husband Si Wills in vaudeville. Davis' first film was a short subject for Educational Pictures called, Way Up Thar (1935), featuring a then-unknown Roy Rogers. Educational distribution company, Twentieth Century-Fox, signed Davis for feature films. Tall and lanky, with a comically flat speaking voice, she became known as one of the few female physical clowns of her time. Perhaps best known for her co-starring turn with Bud Abbott and Lou Costello in, Hold That Ghost (1941), she had a reputation for flawless physical comedy. Her pantomime sequence in, Beautiful But Broke (1944) was a slapstick construction-site episode.

She co-starred with Eddie Cantor in two features, Show Business (1944) and If You Knew Susie (1948). Cantor and Davis were very close off screen as well.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Look for the Silver Lining(1949).

Look for the Silver Lining(1949). Directed by David Butler. Cast: June Haver and Ray Bolger. It was nominated for an Academy Award in 1950.

After, Marilyn Miller becomes dizzy during a rehearsal, she decides to rest in her dressing room. Looking at an old vaudeville poster, she thinks back to when she was a Teenager and left school, to join her parents and her sisters, Claire and Ruth, act. Unfortunately, they all come down with the mumps.

She meets, dancer Jack Donahue and he invites Marilyn to fill in for them. Everyone, is surprised how good she is and she quickly becomes part of her families act.

While the family of dancers are playing theaters in London, Jack brings a Broadway producer to see Marilyn perform and it is not long before, she is performing in her first Broadway show.

The show is going well until, investigator from the Gerry Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, suspects that she is underage and wants to see her birth certificate. Frank, comes up with story and Marilyn is able to go on. On opening night, Frank gives Marilyn a small ceramic elephant for luck.

War has broken out and as Frank, is preparing to join the Army, Marilyn asks him to marry her. He thinks it best that they wait until after the war and when he returns, they will elope.

Frank continues the tradition of sending her an elephant on opening night, but when she opens in Sally, the lucky charm arrives late and broken. After her performance, Marilyn learns that Frank has been killed in a car accident on the way to her show.

Soon after Marilyn retires, but quickly becomes bord and she sets her sights on playing the lead in a new play called Sunny. Producer, Henry Doran, first became interested in Marilyn, while she was still a child and is more than happy for her to play the lead.

Back in the present:

Jack visits Marilyn's dressing room and admits that when he dies, he hopes it is onstage on closing night of a big hit. Learning of Marilyn's dizziness, Henry, who is now her husband, wants to call a doctor, but Marilyn, pretends that her dizzy spell is nothing serious.

Later, Marilyn admits to Jack that the doctor advised her to cut out dancing, but she knows that she can not live without the theater. She decides to continue and the play opens on schedule.

A very entertaining musical and a the perfect showcase for Ray Bolger. June Haver, was able to keep up with him and was wonderful in her dance numbers.

Ray Bolger(January 10, 1904 – January 15, 1987). Bolger's film career began when he signed a contract with MGM in 1936. His best-known film performance before, The Wizard of Oz was, The Great Ziegfeld (1936), in which he portrayed himself. He also performed in, Sweethearts, (1938), Rosalie(1937). Following Oz, Bolger moved to RKO. In 1946 he returned to MGM for a featured role in, The Harvey Girls. He continued to star in several films, including Walt Disney's 1961 remake of Babes in Toyland.

Bolger's M-G-M contract stated that he would play any part the studio chose. He was unhappy when he was cast as the Tin Man. The Scarecrow part had already been given to another dancing studio contract player, Buddy Ebsen. In time, the roles were switched. The aluminum make-up used in the Tin Woodman costume coated Ebsen's lungs, leaving him near death. Ebsen's illness paved the way for the Tin Woodman role to be filled by Jack Haley. He was good friends with actress Margaret Hamilton, who played the Wicked Witch of the West, until her death, and gave a eulogy at her memorial service in 1985. Judy Garland often referred to Bolger as "My Scarecrow". Upon the death of Haley in 1979, Bolger said, "It's going to be very lonely on that Yellow Brick Road now."

Friday, January 6, 2012

Strike Up the Band(1940).

Strike Up the Band(1940). Directed by Busby Berkeley. Cast: Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland.

High school band drummer Jimmy Connors, decides to take some of his friends from Riverwood High School Band and start up a swing orchestra. Jimmy asks Mary, to sing with the band and then asks Mr. Judd, the school principal, if the band could perform at the school dance. Mary, becomes frustrated with Jimmy, because he is more interested in her voice than their romance.

The band sounds great and everyone has a good time at the dance. Jimmy decides to enter Paul Whiteman's school band contest in Chicago. To raise money for their traveling expenses, the band holds a Gay Nineties melodrama for the Elks Club, but they are still short fifty dollars.

If Jimmy does not have enough trouble, here comes Barbara, a flirtatious blonde, who enrolls in Riverwood High School and sets her cap for him. Jimmy takes notice in her when her father hires Paul and his band to play at his daughter's birthday party. At the party, Jimmy and his band give a spur of the moment performance. Whiteman, is impressed and offers Jimmy a job playing drums, but Jimmy refuses, not wanting to brake up his band.

On the day they were suppose to leave, Willie, one of the band members, becomes seriously ill from an injury while performing at the Elks show and needs an operation to save his life. Jimmy, uses the band's travel money to fly Willie to Chicago. Mr. Morgan sends the band to Chicago by train. At the big broadcast, Jimmy and his band are the winners.

If Strike Up The Band, is a wonderful film and has some great musical numbers. Also, the Gay Nineties spoof is very entertaining, I think that you will also enjoy the 'fruit orchestra' doing Our Love Affair.

Fun Fact:

The puppet orchestra made of fruit that comes to life playing instruments for Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland on a kitchen table, was the work of animator George Pal. He had just arrived in Hollywood from Europe via New York and this was among his first projects. Pal's work was relatively unknown by American audiences, thus he was uncredited. The idea for the sequence was that of another New York-to-Hollywood transfer: Vincente Minnelli.

June Preisser (June 26, 1920 – September 19, 1984). Was an actress popular in musical films during the late 1930s and early 1940s, many of which showcased her skills as an acrobat. When Preisser was nine years old an actor noticed the two sisters performing acrobatics on a sidewalk near their home, which landed them a job working in vaudeville, and later for the Ziegfeld Follies in 1934 and 1936.

Cherry retired in 1938 after her marriage and June was signed to a film contract by MGM. Her first film, Dancing Co-Ed (1939) provided only a small part, but her next film, Babes in Arms (1939), gave her a significant role opposite Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland. She performed with Rooney and Garland again in, Strike Up the Band (1940) and with Rooney in two "Andy Hardy" films, Judge Hardy and Son (1939) and Andy Hardy's Private Secretary (1941).

She went on to perform in the films,Gallant Sons (1940), Henry Aldrich for President (1941), Sweater Girl (1942). She played the character "Dodie Rogers" in seven "high school" comedy films with Frankie Darro and Noel Neill from 1946 to 1948. Her final film was Music Man (1948).

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

For Me and My Gal (1942).

For Me and My Gal (1942). Musical directed by Busby Berkeley. Cast: Judy Garland, Gene Kelly, in his screen debut, George Murphy, Martha Eggerth and Ben Blue. The film was based on a story by Howard Emmett Rogers inspired by a true story about vaudeville actors Harry Palmer and Jo Hayden, when Palmer was drafted into World War I.

The story begins at the beginning of World War I, when Jo Hayden and Harry Palmer, perform the musical number "For Me and My Gal," both Jo and Harry think that they would be a great team, but Jo does not want to hurt her dance partner Jimmy's feelings. When they return to the hotel, Jimmy insists that Jo, team up with Harry. It does not take Harry and Jo, long to take their show on the road.

While traveling by train to Chicago, Jo reads that Harry and his partner, comic Sid Simms, are now playing on the prestigious Orpheum circuit. Harry, is jealous that he and Jo have not been as successful and when he accidentally enters the private car of vaudeville headliner Eve Minard, he is star struck.

While in Chicago, Harry starts to neglect Jo and when she is visited by Jimmy he feels sorry for her. That night, Jo goes to Eve's hotel and tells her that she loves Harry. Eve, tells Jo that Harry is an opportunist and to prove her point, asks Jo to hide when Harry arrives. Eve, asks Harry to join her act, he accepts.

Back at their hotel, Harry tries to break the news to Jo, not knowing that she over heard him and when she begins to cry, he realizes that he is in love with her and turns Eve down. They receive a telegram from their agent, Eddie Milton, saying that they are booked for the Palace in New York and Harry proposes that they get married.

After arriving in New York, they learn that the telegram was supposed to read "the Palace in Newark," they are heartbroken. Harry still wants to get married, but Jo wants to wait until they perform at the Palace. Bert Waring, manager of the Palace, sees their act in Newark and offers to book them. Unfortunately, Harry receives his draft notice and is sure that he will lose his big chance. When Harry is to report for his physical he decides to take matters in his own hands and slams a lid of a huge trunk down on his hand.

When Jo receives a telegram informing her that Danny has been killed in action, Harry tries to comfort her, but when she sees his hand, she realizes what he has done and says that she never wants to see him again.

Six weeks later, Harry learns that his hand is permanently crippled and he will never be allowed into the Army. While at a bond rally Harry runs into Sid, who suggests that Harry go with him to France as a YMCA entertainer.

When, he and his partner end up too close to the front, Harry goes off to warn the ambulance convoy heading into danger. He is wounded while destroying an enemy machine gun that was waiting for the convoy.

After the war, during performance at the Palace Theatre, Jo sees Harry in the audience and runs to him. The two reunite on stage to sing "For Me and My Gal".

This movie is a musical/drama/romance and there are a few twists that set it apart from many other wartime romance musicals.

Fun Facts:

For Me and My Gal marked the first real "adult" role for the nineteen-year-old Judy Garland. The original script had called for Harry Palmer to be involved with two women, a singer, which was to be Garland's role, and a dancer, who would have most of the dramatic scenes, but acting coach Stella Adler, who was an advisor to MGM at the time, suggested to producer Arthur Freed that the two roles be combined, and that Garland be given the part. Adler also suggested Gene Kelly for the lead.

Kelly was 30 years old at the time, and had made a mark on Broadway as the star of Pal Joey and the choreographer of Best Foot Forward. When David O. Selznick signed him to a film contract, Kelly's intention was to return to Broadway after fulfilling his contractual obligation, but he ended up staying in Hollywood for a year because Selznick didn't have a role for him. When Arthur Freed inquired about getting Kelly for For Me and My Gal, Selznick handed over the contract, and Kelly got the part, over the objections of Freed's bosses at MGM. The casting of Kelly meant that George Murphy, who was originally going to play "Harry Palmer", was switched to playing "Jimmy Metcalf".

Gene Kelly and Judy Garland got along well – she had been in favor of his getting the part, and during shooting she helped Kelly adjust his stage acting for films, and backed him in disagreements with director Busby Berkeley, who she did not like. Kelly and Garland went on to star together in two other films, The Pirate (1948) and Summer Stock (1950).

The film was also the American motion picture debut of Hungarian singer Martha Eggerth, who had appeared in over thirty films in Germany. Her career in Hollywood did not last long: she appeared in only two other American films.

When the film was initially previewed, the audience was dissatisfied with the ending: they thought that Jo (Garland) should end up with Jimmy (Murphy) rather than Harry (Kelly). This prompted Louis B. Mayer to order three weeks of additional shooting to give Kelly's character more of a conscience and to reduce Murphy's presence in the film.

Marta Eggerth (born April 17, 1912). During the early 1930s, she made more than 40 films. Some of her well known performances are: Where is this Lady (1932); Ein lied, ein Kuss, Ein Madel (Berlin 1932); Die Czardasfurstin (1934); Die Blonde Carmen (Berlin 1935); Casta Diva, the story of Bellini (Rome 1935); Das Hofkonzert (1936); Zauber der Boheme, with Jan Kiepura (Vienna 1936); as well as two films written especially for her by Franz Lehár-- Es war einmal ein Walzer (1932) and Die ganze Welt dreht sich um Liebe (Vienna 1935). It was on the set of the 1934 film Mein Herz ruft nach dir (My Heart is Calling You) that she met and fell in love with the young Polish tenor, Jan Kiepura. They were married in 1936 and together became known as Europe's Liebespaar (Love Pair) causing a sensation wherever they appeared.
Jan, toured the United States and landed a contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in Hollywood and during the early 1940s, made two movies with Judy Garland, For Me and My Gal (1942) and Presenting Lily Mars (1943).