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."