Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2018) on… The Emperor Waltz (1948)

Time for a trip to Austria in the early 1900s, courtesy of the 1948 movie The Emperor Waltz, starring Bing Crosby and Joan Fontaine.

Coming Up Shorts! with… Helping Grandma (1931)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 2 (1930-1931) from ClassicFlix)

(Length: 21 minutes, 4 seconds)

Mrs. Margaret Mack, A.K.A. “Grandma” (Margaret Mann)  is considering selling her store to a chain store or to the local skinflint Mr. Pennypacker (Oscar Apfel).  The Gang really don’t want her to sell out, so they try to help her out.  This one is a decent short, with the kids again trying to gum up the works by making things out to be different than they are.  Some of the best laughs are provided when Wheezer (Bobby Hutchins) is left in charge, and tries to figure out what Stymie (Matthew Beard) is trying to buy.  Maybe not the series at its absolute best, but it’s fun enough that I look forward to seeing it again at some point, like the rest of the series!

And Now For The Main Feature…

In this movie, which proves that Vienna had “gone to the dogs,” we find that the Emperor Franz-Josef (Richard Haydn in another Austrian-set movie pre-dating his famous role as “Uncle Max” in The Sound of Music) has summoned the Countess Johanna Von Stolzenberg-Stolzenberg (Joan Fontaine) and her father, the Baron Holenia (Roland Culver), to plan an arranged marriage. However, it’s not a human marriage he has in mind, but one for their dogs!  At the same time, traveling salesman Virgil Smith (Bing Crosby) has arrived with his fox terrier, Buttons, planning to sell a phonograph to the Emperor in the hopes that the country would buy it because he did.  Buttons ends up getting into a fight with the Countess’s poodle Scheherezade, which later causes her to suffer a breakdown.  At the advice of the veterinarian (who had studied alongside Dr. Freud),  the Countess brings Scheherezade to Virgil and Buttons, for them to make peace.  In doing so, we see the dogs falling for each other, as well as Virgil and the Countess.  After a while, Virgil gets an appointment with the Emperor to ask for the Countess’s hand in marriage.  The emperor talks him out of the idea, instead opting to buy the phonograph.  You want more details than that?  Watch the movie!

Director Billy Wilder was coming off of making Double Indemnity and The Lost Weekend (both of which had been fairly dark films), and had returned from Europe, having worked on the short Death Mills (a documentary on Nazi concentration camps).  After all that dark fare, he felt a strong desire to do a musical.  Paramount needed a musical for their big star (Bing Crosby), so Wilder went to work on doing one.  For the female lead, they tried to convince Greta Garbo to come out of retirement, but when she refused, they borrowed actress Joan Fontaine, then under contract to David O. Selznick.  The movie was partially filmed on location in Jasper National Park in Alberta, Canada.  For part of that, they created an “island” on a platform with some earth, rocks and trees in Leach Lake (and they later turned it over to the Dominion of Canada, although they had to recreate the island back in Hollywood for some reshoots).  In between dealing with his own personal demons and contending with star Bing Crosby (who brought in some of his own writers to punch up his own dialogue), Wilder considered this film to be one of six that he regretted making, and the film (originally finished in 1946) had its release delayed a few years.  However, the film went over well with audiences and critics alike at the time.

In spite of Billy Wilder’s opinion (and a fair amount of critical opinions in the years since this film’s original release), I personally have been enjoying this movie very much! From the first time I saw it, I’ve taken to some of the music, particularly the title tune (short as it is), “Friendly Mountains” and “I Kiss Your Little Hand, Madame” (with the latter song providing the only real full-fledged dance routine, as a chauffeur, a maid and the inn’s proprietress go into a balletic dance). Of course, the music is hardly the only appeal, as the film’s humor also keeps bringing me back! I know I get a kick out of all the stuff related to the dogs, from Sig Ruman as the veterinarian trying to psychoanalyze the Countess’s poodle Scheherazade, to the whole ridiculous idea of the (unseen) “wedding” for Scheherazade and the emperor’s poodle and more! For me, the whole cast works quite well in their roles, particularly Bing Crosby (the main reason I first saw this film). I will grant you that, the older I get, the harder a time I have seeing his character strictly as a hero, considering he displays some of the lesser qualities that some Americans are still guilty of even today (but, to be fair, nobody is perfect in this movie). Regardless, it’s a movie I always look forward to seeing, and I would certainly give it my highest recommendations!

This movie is available on DVD from Universal.

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2021) with… The Emperor Waltz (1948)

On August 17, 2021, The Emperor Waltz was released on Blu-ray by Kino Lorber Studio Classics.  This transfer uses an older HD scan, but for the most part, it looks quite good!  The Blu-ray brings out the detail much better, and shows off the colors.  There is still some dust and dirt to be found here, but it doesn’t really take away from the overall presentation.  The disc also includes a commentary by film historian Joseph McBride. For now, it’s certainly the best one can hope for with this movie!

Film Length: 1 hour, 46 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Road To Rio (1947)Bing CrosbyA Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court (1949)

A Damsel In Distress (1937) – Joan Fontaine

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An Old-Fashioned Christmas Movie On The Farm (2018) with… White Christmas (1954)

Well, it’s only a few more days until Christmas, so let’s get into the classic 1954 movie White Christmas, starring Bing Crosby as Bob Wallace, Danny Kaye as Phil Davis, Rosemary Clooney as Betty Haynes and Vera-Ellen as Judy Haynes.

Coming Up Shorts! with… Moving Aweigh(1944)

(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Popeye The Sailor: The 1940s Volume 1 from Warner Archive Collection)

Disclaimer: On the disc case, it is noted that the set is intended for the adult collector, which is because these shorts were made at a time when a lot of racist and sexist stereotypes were prevalent. All I’m trying to say is, parents, be careful about just sticking these on for your kids.

(Length: 6 minutes, 22 seconds)

Popeye and his pal Shorty try to help Olive move. This one gives us some variety, with the focus mainly on Popeye and Shorty (plus a cop that they quickly get on the bad side of). The gags are fun, especially the ways they try to load up the moving van. This one is a definite relief after going through the “Popeye Vs. Bluto” episodes, and that makes it fun to watch every now and then!

And Now For The Main Feature…

I think most may know the plot for this movie, but for the un-initiated, Bob Wallace and Phil Davis are a pair of Army buddies who go into show business together after the second World War.  Eventually, they become producers (mostly at Phil’s prodding, since he had saved Bob’s life during the war).  After receiving a letter from “a pal in the army,” they go to see his sisters’ act.  Bob shows interest in one of the sisters, Betty, and Phil notices, deciding to try to promote the romance.  They follow the sisters to their new job in Pine Tree, Vermont, where they are to work at an inn run by a former general that Bob and Phil served under during the war.  They decide to put on a show to help bring in business to the failing inn.

Of course, this is a well-known movie, so I’ll just get into why I like the movie.  I think everybody that knows me know I REALLY like the song “The Best Things Happen While You’re Dancing!”  I enjoy watching Danny Kaye and Vera-Ellen dancing together, in what is, I think, the dance routine that is the most fun to watch in the movie!  Of course, as a dancer myself, it is always a fun reminder of just how much fun dancing has always been for me, and all the wonderful gals I have had a chance to dance with!

I know I have seen a number of people that consider this movie to be a remake of the 1942 classic Holiday Inn.  Personally, I don’t quite get it.  The main arguments seem to be because the set for the inn in White Christmas is similar to the one in Holiday Inn, and that White Christmas borrows at least two songs from Holiday Inn: “White Christmas” and “Abraham.”  I don’t really think either point qualifies this one as a remake, since similar sets have been known to be used before in different movies that weren’t remakes (and I’m not sure how many times the same set has ever actually been used in any remakes), and as to multiple songs being borrowed, that doesn’t really apply either, I think, as White Christmas also “borrows” at least “Blue Skies” and “White Christmas” from the movie Blue Skies (and it seems like I might have read somewhere that maybe “Mandy” was also used as background music in that movie as well), and that movie isn’t even remotely close.

Whether it is a remake or not, though, this is one of those movies that you can’t go wrong with!  I know it’s one of my favorite Christmas movies, and usually one of the last movies I enjoy watching right before Christmas day!  So, I would definitely recommend this one to anybody interested!  The movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Paramount Pictures.

And so, I want to wish you all a merry Christmas (and to those who don’t celebrate it, I wish you happy holidays), and I wish you peace on earth, and goodwill to ALL!

Film Length: 2 hours

My Rating: 10/10

*ranked #7 in Top 11 Movies Watched in 2018

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Road To Bali (1952)Bing CrosbyAnything Goes (1956)

Rosemary Clooney – Deep In My Heart (1954)

On The Town (1949) – Vera-Ellen

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Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2018) on… Miss Annie Rooney (1942)

Time to get into the 1942 movie Miss Annie Rooney, starring Shirley Temple, William Gargan, Guy Kibbee and Dickie Moore. In the spirit of the movie, I will be borrowing some “Jitterbug-ese” to discuss my thoughts on the movie after I describe the plot (and don’t worry, I’ll translate them in parentheses afterwards, borrowing from the insert included the Classicflix release of the movie on disc).

Obviously, we find Shirley Temple playing the main character, Annie Rooney, who is living with her father (William Gargan) and her grandfather (Guy Kibbee). Apparently, her father has a thing for various get-rich-quick schemes, which he tries to get his father to buy into (even though they’re not exactly flush with cash at the moment). When Annie goes to a party with one of her friends, they have a slight fender-bender with Marty White (Dickie Moore), who Annie falls for after he gives her a ride to the party. Over the next few weeks, they spend a lot of time together and he invites her to his birthday party (to his parents’ initial dismay). This is probably close to the plot, so I’ll move on without spoiling it any further.

I think this movie is zingo (terrific), man! Apparently, this was Shirley’s first foray into slightly older roles, as she switched from little kid roles to that of a teenager. At the time, the movie was considered to be on the drippy side (corny, conventional, unimaginative), but I think it is fun. We do get a chance to see Shirley wear out some leather (dance) a few times. The movie itself may not be the most memorable, but I think it is snaky (looked on favorably)! I’ll admit, the slang itself probably dates the movie about as much as anything, but I think there is some fun to be had! So don’t be a sad apple (a square or drip), give this movie a try!

The movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Classicflix. At this point, most of you are probably ready for me to axe the gab (stop talking), so I guess I’ll say “30 for now” (see you later)!

Film Length: 1 hour, 26 minutes

My Rating: 7/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Shirley Temple – Since You Went Away (1944)

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Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2018) on… Born To Dance (1936)

Like Eleanor Powell, I was Born To Dance (for those that don’t know me, I have always been fond of dancing myself, and it’s fun to imagine being related to Eleanor, even though that was just her stage name, as far as I know)! Of course, we’re here for the 1936 musical Born To Dance, starring Eleanor Powell as Nora Paige, James Stewart as Ted Barker, Sid Silvers as “Gunny” Saks, Una Merkel as Jenny Saks, Virginia Bruce as Lucy James and Buddy Ebsen as Mush Tracy.

Now as to plot, we find a submarine arriving in New York City. On their leave, three sailors (Ted Barker, Gunny Saks and Mush Tracy) all go to the Lonely Hearts Club, where Gunny’s wife works. There, Ted meets Nora Paige, an aspiring dancer, and he falls in love with her. Within a few days, the submarine is visited by Broadway star Lucy James. Her Pekinese falls in the water and is saved by Ted. Lucy falls for him, and goes with him to a nightclub. When Nora finds out in the newspaper, she decides to cool things off between her and Ted. Ted uses his influence with Lucy’s manager to get Nora a job as Lucy’s understudy in the show. Lucy doesn’t want any more publicity about her relationship with Ted, and she threatens to leave the show if anything more is printed about them. In a diva moment at rehearsal, Lucy says that nobody can dance to one of the songs. However, Nora does so successfully at the request of Lucy’s manager. That makes Lucy mad, and she demands Nora be fired. When Ted finds out about that, he knows what to do!

As to my opinion of the movie, it is a lot of fun, and one I would recommend. The score by Cole Porter is most of the fun, with songs such as “Rap-Tap On Wood,” “Hey, Babe, Hey,” “Easy To Love,” “Swingin’ The Jinx Away” and “I’ve Got You Under My Skin.” Part of the fun here is that this is one of the few musicals that James Stewart made, giving him a chance to do some of the singing and dancing.

To get into some of the music, we have the song “Rap-Tap On Wood.” It is an early song in the movie, and is one of Eleanor’s tap solos. It is one I enjoy watching, and the song is prone to getting stuck in my head. Just a lot of pure fun!

The song “Hey, Babe, Hey” features most of the cast together. Jimmy starts out singing to Eleanor, and several others join in, with three different couples flirting with each other. The dancing here is only so-so, but that is mostly because, of the six people doing it, only Eleanor Powell and Buddy Ebsen are really dancers. I think, however, that the movie makes up for it by being a very fun and catchy tune!

With “Easy To Love,” James Stewart is again romancing Eleanor. This time is in Central Park, and it gives Eleanor a short dance solo. Some of the fun here is that, partway through, they are joined by a cop, played by Reginald Gardiner. He observes Jimmy “conducting” the music, and then does his own more serious conducting (apparently spoofing conductor Leopold Stokowski), which is also fun.

The song “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” is sung by Virginia Bruce to Jimmy. I personally don’t think it was the most memorable rendition, and how it became famous from that, I don’t know. The song was, however, also used by a couple at the nightclub that she and Jimmy visit. The couple, George and Jalna, do a dance routine to the song, with a few different lifts and whatnot. It is an example of the different types of dancing I had mentioned were fun to watch back in my post on King Of Jazz.

As I said, this is a fun movie. The plot may not be the movie’s strength, but I think the rest makes up for it. I do heartily recommend the movie. The movie WAS available on DVD from Warner Home Video (but currently appears to be out-of-print and awaiting re-release from Warner Archive Collection).

Film Length: 1 hour, 50 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Broadway Melody Of 1936 (1935) – Eleanor Powell – Honolulu (1939)

Rose-Marie (1936) – James Stewart – After The Thin Man (1936)

Frances Langford – All-American Co-Ed (1941)

Broadway Melody Of 1936 (1935) – Buddy Ebsen – The Girl Of The Golden West (1938)

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Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2018) on… Pennies From Heaven (1936)

And we are back again, this time for the 1936 musical Pennies From Heaven, starring Bing Crosby, Madge Evans, Edith Fellows, Louis Armstrong and Donald Meek.

Now, as to plot, we find Bing playing Larry Poole, an old-fashioned troubadour who can usually be found with his guitar (wait, that is incorrect, it is not a guitar, it is a lute, a 13th century lute). We start with Larry in prison, a few weeks away from being released, when he is visited by J.C. Hart, a convict about to be executed. He asks Larry to deliver a letter to the family of a man he had killed. When Larry gets out, he finds that this family, which consists of a little girl named Patsy Smith (Edith Fellows) and her grandfather (Donald Meek), has just been dispossessed from yet another home. Hart’s letter expresses his regret for having killed Patsy’s father, and he offers up a house he had used as a hideout. When they arrive, they find that the locals believe the house to be haunted (apparently a rumor spread by Hart to keep people away). Since Patsy is prone to playing hooky from school and her grandfather is unemployed, they all have to deal with social worker Susan Sprague (Madge Evans). I would say the rest of the movie has to do with Larry, Patsy and her grandfather trying to find a way to support the family, all the while Larry and Susan are starting to fall for each other.

Now, as to what I think of the movie? This is one that I very much enjoy. I would recommend it as a *possible* Halloween movie. As I said, the house that they go to has a reputation of being haunted, and the movie almost feels like a haunted house-type movie for the first few minutes they arrive there. That feeling disappears as they get used to the house, but they do make use of the house’s reputation as they try to turn it into a haunted house café.

Admittedly, the movie does have its flaws, especially for modern viewers. When we first meet him, Larry does come across as being somewhat sexist with some of his comments, although there is a degree to which he is more of a loner who doesn’t want to be saddled with a wife and family (although you can guess his opinion on that will change before the movie is over). Another problem would be Louis Armstrong’s role, since I do think it plays into some racist stereotypes. When we first meet him, he and Larry are talking about how he and his band of seven men were trying to figure out how to divide up the 10% of the take that Larry had promised him, and he asks Larry to only give them 7% instead. Then there is the fact that Louis and his men kind of become chicken thieves. I’m not thrilled with all of this, BUT, racist though some of these things may have been, Louis got this role because Bing wanted to have him in the movie, and, according to IMDB, this was one of the first times that a black actor received top billing with white actors (he was billed fourth, higher than Donald Meek as the grandfather, who had far more screen time than Louis)! It was baby steps in the right direction, something to be said in favor of this movie.

In spite of these flaws, I do think the movie is a lot of fun. I enjoyed the music very much. Louis Armstrong got one specialty song, “Skeleton In The Closet,” which is a lot of fun. Most of the rest of the music is, as well, although most of it is not memorable or popular (at least, not beyond the title song). So I do recommend this movie, in spite of its flaws.

The movie is available on DVD from Sony.

Film Length: 1 hour, 20 minutes

My Rating: 7/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Rhythm On The Range (1936)Bing CrosbyWaikiki Wedding (1937)

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What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2018) with… Running Wild (1927)

And here we are, ready to dig into the W.C Fields silent comedy, Running Wild, from 1927.

In this movie, W.C Fields is Elmer Finch, a very timid man, scared of almost everybody.  His daughter believes he can be great, but his second wife constantly berates him, and his stepson might just as well be the man of the house, considering he has his mother wrapped around his finger.  The situation is just as bad at the novelty shop that Elmer works at, where he has been a clerk for twenty years.  When he is sent to collect the bill from somebody that is very difficult, he ends up running into a theatre, where a hypnotist is performing.  Elmer is hypnotized into believing he is a lion.  Before the hypnotist can bring him out of it, he runs off, fiercely dealing with his various problems.

Now, when I first heard about this movie (which was when it and It’s The Old Army Game were announced as coming out on Blu-ray and DVD), I didn’t really know what to make of it.  I could only claim to have seen a few of W.C. Fields’ movies (Mississippi from 1935 and The Big Broadcast of 1938), but from what I had seen, I had no idea what to make of the idea of W.C Fields being in any silent movies.  Sound seemed to serve his style of comedy really well, so I was curious to see what he would be like in a silent movie, without that well-known voice of his.  Now, I will admit, this movie started out a little slow, for about the first twenty minutes or so.  But I figured that it was all set-up, helping to introduce us to the character.  Once his character was hypnotized, then the fun really began!  All the set-up worked (at least, it did for me), so all the running around and screaming “I’m a lion!” was absolutely hilarious!  While he wasn’t quite as agile as the other silent comedians like Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton or Harold Lloyd (which I would attribute to his age, since he was about 47ish at the time he made this movie, if I am correct), he still managed to rely enough on physical comedy, which I hadn’t seen as much in the handful of sound movies that I had seen!  So, as for the movie itself, I do recommend it for a few good laughs!

Now, apparently, this movie, owned by Paramount, had no prior release on DVD.  So, Kino Lorber’s release on Blu-ray and DVD is the first one on home video in quite a while.  The movie did undergo some restoration for this release.  Now, I’m not informed enough to know what elements still exist for this movie, so I can only say what I know about this release.  The picture looks pretty good, although it does have some weaker moments.  Quite frankly, though, I would say that (again, without knowing what elements exist), this movie looks pretty good.  I personally don’t expect the movie to look pristine, considering its age and how many silent films are lost to us at this point and what’s left don’t always have the best elements to work with.  So, if you want perfect, look elsewhere, but if you can stand to live with less-than-perfect, you can have a very good time here.  I don’t know whether to recommend it for young kids who can’t read yet, but then again, they might be able to supply dialogue that is just as funny, at least for their parents!

Film Length: 1 hour, 8 minutes

My Rating: 8/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

It’s The Old Army Game (1926)W. C. FieldsAlice In Wonderland (1933)

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An Old-Fashioned Christmas Movie On The Farm (2018) with… The Daughter Of Rosie O’Grady (1950)

Time to dig into one of those forgotten Christmas musicals, the 1950 movie The Daughter Of Rosie O’Grady, starring June Haver and Gordon MacRae.

Former vaudevillian Dennis O’Grady (James Barton), is living with his three daughters, Katie (Marsha Jones), Patricia (June Haver) and Maureen (Debbie Reynolds, in her first speaking role).  Katie is married and pregnant, although her father doesn’t know it, but still has to stay with the family because she and her husband couldn’t find a place to stay together.  Patricia has designs to go on stage, like her late mother, but her father objects, believing it was the hard life of the stage that killed her mother.  When Pat meets Tony Pastor (Gordon MacRae), who owns a local theatre, she finds her way on stage, but gets kicked out of the house by her father.

As always, a lot of the fun with this movie is the music and dancing.  Admittedly, most of the music has long been forgotten (I have no idea how much, if any of it, is period music), beyond the title tune which some *might* know, depending upon how well-versed they may be on old Looney Tunes shorts, since I know I have heard Bugs Bunny singing it in one of his.  The dancing, however, provides a lot of the fun, mainly provided by June Haver and Gene Nelson.  Most probably know Gene Nelson for his role as Will Parker in the film version of Oklahoma.  My own opinion is that his dancing in that movie was tamed down (although, to be fair, it works for the character, as a cowboy, as opposed to being a theatrical dancer like he is in Daughter of Rosie O’Grady).  Here, he’s given the chance to show what he can do, with a lot of high-flying leaps and flips, and tap-dancing, as well as some partnered dancing with June Haver.  And of course, I think she keeps up with him pretty well, and has a few good moments of her own, besides playing Rosie O’Grady herself in flashback.

Of course, I have to drag in why this is a Christmas movie!  The last twenty minutes of the movie take place around Christmastime.  We get some reconciliation for the various characters within that time, and see some decorated Christmas trees.  Admittedly, outside of some background music, there is no Christmas music, although “Winter Serenade” at least fits the time of year, as well as actor James Barton (a former vaudevillian himself) doing some “skating” onstage as he performs when asked to do so at the end.

If you can’t tell, this is a movie I enjoy.  Maybe not the absolute best movie ever made, but it is good fun, and one I enjoy revisiting, particularly around Christmastime, so I would recommend it if you get the chance!  The movie is available on DVD from Warner Archive Collection.

Film Length: 1 hour, 45 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Gordon MacRae – Tea For Two (1950)

Gene Nelson – Tea For Two (1950)

Debbie Reynolds – Singin’ In The Rain (1952)

In The Good Old Summertime (1949) – S. Z. “Cuddles” Sakall – Tea For Two (1950)

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An Old-Fashioned Christmas Movie On The Farm (2018) with… Miracle On 34th Street (1947)

Here we are again for another Christmas classic!  This time, it’s the 1947 movie Miracle On 34th Street, starring John Payne, Maureen O’Hara, and Edmund Gwenn.

Maureen O’Hara plays Doris Walker, a divorced mother who works at Macy’s.  When she has to fire the drunken Santa for the parade, she finds a replacement in the form of Kris Kringle (Edmund Gwenn), who does well enough he is hired for the toy department at Macy’s.  While there, he tries to change things, helping out by sending parents to wherever they need to go to help find the toys their kids are asking for.  This works out well for Macy’s, and they institute it for more than just the toy department.  Of course, the fact that Kris Kringle believes he is actually Santa Claus causes some trouble, which results in him being sent to an institution.  At his trial, he is represented by Fred Gailey (John Payne), Doris’s boyfriend and neighbor, who must prove that Kris is indeed who he says he is.

I know it’s a favorite thing for some people to complain about how much Christmas stuff is put out in the stores far sooner than it should, or how some people start decorating, listening to music, or other such things a lot earlier, but his movie is, in some respects, a good example of how that problem has been there for a long time.  From what I gather, this movie, a Christmas classic in its own right, was originally released in theaters in early summer (May or June seems to be what I see listed)!  Apparently, the head of 20th Century Fox at that time, Darryl F. Zanuck, figured that the movie would do better if it was released during the summer.  Of course, they tried to minimize the Christmas angle in promoting it, but audiences apparently enjoyed it enough to keep seeing it, even at that time of the year!

I admit, as I get older, I tend to hold less affection for most of the various “Santa Claus” movies.  However, this one is the main exception to that rule.  For me, Edmund Gwenn IS Santa Claus.  I’ve never liked anybody else anywhere near as much in the role.  And apparently, even the rest of the cast in this movie agreed that he was well cast in the role (and apparently, Natalie Wood, who played Doris’s daughter in this movie, didn’t even know he wasn’t Santa until they were finished filming the movie)!  And I certainly found it interesting that the parade at the beginning of the movie was actually the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade from 1946, where Edmund Gwenn was Santa in the parade!  But I do recommend this movie very highly, and would definitely suggest watching it during the holiday season!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from 20th Century Fox.

Film Length: 1 hour, 36 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

The Hunchback Of Notre Dame (1939) – Maureen O’Hara

Going My Way (1944) – Gene Lockhart

The Bride Wore Boots (1946) – Natalie Wood – Marjorie Morningstar (1958)

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What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2018) with… The Glenn Miller Story (1954)

Here we are again for another new release on disc, this time the 1954 movie The Glenn Miller Story, starring James Stewart and June Allyson.

James Stewart plays Glenn Miller, a trombone player, who pals around with Chummy (Harry Morgan, or Henry, as he was billed here).  When the owner of the pawn shop where Glenn repeatedly pawns his trombone helps them find a job, Glenn makes use of the opportunity to visit his girlfriend, Helen Burger (June Allyson), whom he hasn’t seen in several years.  They enjoy a brief time together, before he leaves for New York.  A few years later, he realizes he can’t live without her, and has her come to New York so they can get married.  After they get married, she helps him towards realizing his long-time dream of discovering his “sound,” and he forms an orchestra of his own.

In reading about this movie, it appears that James Stewart attempted to learn to play the trombone for the role.  Apparently, he didn’t learn well enough, so he had to be dubbed for it, although he did learn to at least pantomime playing the trombone well enough.  The movie is supposed to be based on real events (although I’m not familiar enough to be able to determine just how accurate the movie is).  Of course, part of the fun with the movie is some of the real Glenn Miller’s peers who show up in the movie, such as Louis Armstrong, drummer Gene Krupa, Ben Pollack, and others.

The movie might barely classify as a Christmas movie, but that would mostly be due to the film’s ending.  I can’t really comment on that much more without giving away the ending, but it is a wonderful moment.  Now, I had not seen this movie previously.  At best, I could only claim to have heard of it in passing.  As I said, I’m not the most familiar with Glenn Miller himself, as I only really hear about most of these orchestras through movies such as this, whether they be biographical, like this one or The Eddy Duchin Story, or films that some of the orchestras themselves appear in (apparently, Glenn Miller had appeared in at least two movies in the early forties, although I haven’t seen them yet).  Whatever, this is a movie that I did enjoy discovering, and one I would recommend.

The movie is available on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory and DVD from Universal.

Film Length: 1 hour, 56 minutes

My Rating: 10/10 (again, as with The Blue Dahlia, my opinion is solely on the movie itself, and not on the Blu-ray transfer, which looks like it could use some work, although it is at least widescreen now, as opposed to being pan-and-scan like older releases have been.  Still, I think it still looks good enough that it doesn’t take away from the movie itself).

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

The Philadelphia Story (1940) – James Stewart

Good News (1947) – June Allyson – The Opposite Sex (1956)

Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943) – George Tobias – Silk Stockings (1957)

Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2018) on… Double Or Nothing (1937)

Time to dig into the 1937 movie Double Or Nothing starring Bing Crosby, Mary Carlisle, Andy Devine, Martha Raye and William Frawley.

Now, as to plot, we find two men (who turn out to be lawyers) leaving wallets all over town, each containing about $100 in cash.  When four people (Bing, Andy, Martha and William) read the card in the wallets telling where they can be returned, they are invited to the reading of a will.  There, they are told by the two lawyers that this was all part of a will.  Explaining that the deceased man had had a long-running bet with his brother, believing that people were honest and intelligent, while his brother believed that people were dishonest and corrupt.  The four were told they could keep the $100, and would be given $5000 each, with the provision that they had to double the money honestly within 30 days.  The first to do so would inherit the entire estate of about $1,000,000.  Now all four members of the group have their own ideas on how to do it (such as gold stock, a golf range, rowboats in the park, and a nightclub), but they all agree to share it if somebody wins, with the winner getting half a million and the other half being divided between the others.  Now of course, the living brother and most of his family don’t want them to win, so they try to sabotage their efforts.

Now, my opinion of this movie is that it is a lot of fun.  Most of the music is fun, but I definitely prefer the song “All You Want To Do Is Dance” (and I think most of those who know me can guess why).

A lot of the fun can be found at the nightclub near the end of the movie.  Part of the attraction for the nightclub is the “Sing Band,” comprised entirely of singers who can imitate various musical instruments (of course, be listening for when the band “sings” the “Garland Waltz,” or, for those who only know the music after Walt Disney had lyrics added to it, “Once Upon A Dream”).

One of the acts for the show is the dance team of Ames and Arno.  Their dancing is almost strictly comedic, with a lot of falling and other stunts, but it is a lot of fun.  I consider it an example of the type of dancing I suggested seeking out back when I wrote about King of Jazz.  Another act would be the Calgary brothers, mostly a comedic team, and a lot of fun.

As I said, this movie is a lot of fun, and I consider it good “comfort viewing” (at least, it is for me, anyways), and I recommend it because of that. The movie is available on DVD from Universal as part of the 5 film Bing Crosby Screen Legend Collection, or as part of the 24 film Bing Crosby Silver Screen Collection.

Film Length: 1 hour, 30 minutes

My Rating: 8/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Waikiki Wedding (1937)Bing CrosbyRoad To Singapore (1940)

Waikiki Wedding (1937) – Martha Raye – College Swing (1938)

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