BingFan

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  1. BingFan

    What are you reading

    I assume you're referring to my comparison of the chart histories of Bing Crosby and the Beatles, among others. You're absolutely right that the Beatles' chart success, 68 records during seven years, is very impressive. Crosby's chart history (396 records) covered 35 years (1927 to 1962), so he obviously had much longer to build his record. On average, Crosby (about 11 charting records per year) is only slightly ahead of the Beatles (about 10 per year). No matter how the numbers stack up, though, I love listening to both Crosby and the Beatles. I halfway wish that I'd re-read the first volume of the Crosby biography before starting the second one. In the latter volume, author Giddins doesn't spend any time reiterating the events of the first volume, and while I remember the broad outlines of Bing's earlier life, I'm afraid that I've forgotten much of the detail. It's not strictly necessary to re-read the first volume in order to enjoy the second. But if you're patient enough to re-read the first one, it might enhance your appreciation of the second.
  2. BingFan

    What are you reading

    As much as I like Bing in his Oscar-winning Going My Way role, I think he displays the range of his acting talent more fully in The Country Girl. It's probably my favorite performance of his, too.
  3. BingFan

    What are you reading

    I'm currently reading Bing Crosby: Swinging on a Star - The War Years - 1940-1946, the second volume in Gary Giddins' fascinating, well-researched study of Bing's life. (No, I don't only read books about Bing because my screen name happens to be "BingFan." I haven't read a book about Crosby since the first volume, Pocketful of Dreams, about 15 years ago.) Some might question whether Crosby deserves a multi-volume biography a la Churchill or LBJ. It's true that he didn't devote his life to dealing with massive and serious political problems, often matters of life and death, that those two world leaders did. But if you're interested in the entertainment world, Bing was a world leader for decades. He had far more charting records than any other artist, 396. (By comparison, Sinatra had 209, Elvis 149, and the Beatles 68). As an actor, he was the number-one box office attraction for five years, 1944-48, won a best-actor Oscar for Going My Way, and was nominated twice more. He was a major network radio star for over 20 years, and headlined TV specials after that. He raised millions for war bonds during WW II and millions for charities during peace-time. Even if all that's true, I wondered if it was really necessary to write over 500 pages on just seven years, 1940-46, of Bing's long life. But I have to say that, in my opinion, author Giddins made the right call. He's found so much interesting material about Bing that I'm not sure what he should or could have omitted. So, yes, I do think Bing deserves the multi-volume biographical treatment. I hope Gary Giddins sees the biography through the last 30 years of Bing's life!
  4. BingFan

    And Your Favorite Howard Hawks Film Is...?

    I like a lot of Hawks' movies -- practically every one that I've seen was well worth watching. But here are the ones that I really love: Bringing Up Baby (1938) Only Angels Have Wings (1939) His Girl Friday (1940) Ball of Fire (1941) To Have and Have Not (1944) The Big Sleep (1946) Red River (1948)
  5. BingFan

    Fans will lve "STAN & OLLIE!"

    I saw Stan & Ollie recently and really enjoyed it. I can't imagine anyone doing a better job portraying Laurel and Hardy than Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly did. Both were quite good and, in my opinion, deserved Oscar nominations. And the story that the movie tells -- Stan and Ollie's last hurrah as a team, touring British theaters in the 50s with mixed success -- is sweet without being corny. It's really a story about their friendship and their artistry. Although I'm not a particularly big L&H fan, I do enjoy their movies and think they deserve to be remembered as among the greats of film history. I assume that Stan & Ollie is at least roughly accurate, but I'd be interested to hear what more knowledgeable L&H fans thought about the movie. I'm sorry that Stan & Ollie hasn't done better at the box office. It's a well-told story with outstanding performances. It deserves to be seen.
  6. BingFan

    S.T. Patrick’s Day Spotlight

    It's true that some of the Irish-themed movies scheduled for March have been shown often for past St. Patrick's Days. But I'm glad that TCM is premiering Top o' the Morning this year, an enjoyable Bing Crosby/Barry Fitzgerald comedy/mystery set in Ireland.
  7. Top o’ the Morning is definitely worth seeing, although it’s probably the least of the three movies starring Bing and Barry. For the past several years, wife and I have watched a very old recording of it from AMC (VHS transferred to DVD) as part of our annual St. Patrick’s Day viewing, and the film has some real charm, due in large part to the Bing/Barry combination. Here, Bing is an American insurance investigator who’s sent to Ireland to find the stolen Blarney Stone, and Barry is the local constable who assists. Hume Cronyn, as the other village constable, and Ann Blyth, as Barry’s daughter and Bing’s love interest, provide ample support. By the end, the story has taken an odd turn toward a murder mystery, and even after several viewings, I’ve never quite followed the prophecy that supposedly solves the mystery. But Bing and Barry again make a very enjoyable team, even if not quite up to their turns as priests (Going My Way) or as doctors (Welcome Stranger).
  8. BingFan

    Classical music

    Now, Voyager includes Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 (“Pathetique”). The Seven Year Itch uses Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 to comic effect. Between all of the old movies (and Looney Tunes) I saw growing up that featured classical themes and my mom constantly playing classical music on the radio, I somehow ended up knowing at least the more popular classical repertoire as much as the rock hits I more purposefully sought out back then. While I wouldn’t claim to be particularly knowledgeable about classical music, I think those movies (and my mom) taught me to understand and enjoy the classical “language” that understandably seems foreign to so many people. As others have pointed out, classical music was once much more a part of the popular consciousness than it is now. The NBC radio network had a symphony orchestra conducted by Toscanini. Popular songs (e.g., Sinatra’s “If You Are But A Dream”) were based on classical themes. Looney Tunes used classical music and parodied operas. And even in the seminal film noir Laura, Vincent Price’s character offers his attendance at a classical concert as an alibi, telling Dana Andrews’ detective character which composers were played — only to have the detective imply that he was lying by pointing out that the program was changed at the last minute to “nothing but Sibelius.” When Price claims that he fell asleep at the beginning of the concert, the detective agrees that he also sometimes falls asleep at such concerts — an acknowledgment that he attends classical performances. When I was growing up in the 60s and 70s, I knew only very few kids who were classical music fans. (I would not have counted myself as one of them.) But a few decades earlier, when cartoonist Charles Schulz was growing up, according to a recent biography, he was part of a group of young people who were avid classical fans. My mom, who was just a little younger, also grew up listening almost exclusively to classical music rather than popular music. (Maybe it was something about growing up in St. Paul, where both Schulz and my mom were from, although they didn’t know each other.) I don’t think classical music should listened to because “it’s good for you” like taking medicine or eating vegetables, but because you enjoy it. It’s kind of sad to me that classical music isn’t used in movies and other sources of popular culture as much as it once was because it deprives people of a chance to get familiar with its “language” so that they can enjoy its melodies rather than being put off by something that sounds foreign to their ears. (I’d say the same about jazz.) I think it was Duke Ellington who said, “If it sounds good, it is good.” A beautiful melody, an enriching harmony, a compelling rhythm are worth hearing and enjoying, whether they come latest pop song or a piece written centuries ago.
  9. BingFan

    New Year's Eve movie suggestions

    After The Thin Man, which was shown today, is set partly on New Years’s Eve. We watch it almost every year around this time. It’s definitely my second favorite in the series, after the original. A few other movies with NYE scenes that I don’t think have been mentioned include It’s Love I’m After, with Leslie Howard, Bette Davis, and Olivia DeHavilland; The Moon’s Our Home, with Henry Fonda and Margaret Sullavan; and Operation Petticoat, with Cary Grant and Tony Curtis. And there are some very good movies that feature both Christmas and New Year’s Eve: Holiday, with Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, Lew Ayres, and Edward Everett Horton; Holiday Inn, with Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire; Junior Miss, with Peggy Ann Garner, Barbara Whiting, and Allyn Joslyn; I’ll Be Seeing You, with Ginger Rogers, Joseph Cotten, and Shirley Temple; and Remember the Night, with Barbara Stanwyck, Fred MacMurray, Beulah Bondi, Elizabeth Patterson, and Sterling Holloway. Now that I think about it, we watch all of these movies at least every other year around the holidays. My favorite time of year!
  10. BingFan

    Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

    Yes, I'm a Bing fan, and my favorite movies of his are HOLIDAY INN, WHITE CHRISTMAS, GOING MY WAY, ROAD TO UTOPIA, WELCOME STRANGER, and THE COUNTRY GIRL. It would be hard to name my favorite recording of his -- there are so many. That said, I really love "I'll Capture Your Heart," his duet with Fred Astaire, which was issued on record as well as being featured in HOLIDAY INN. I'm also a big, big Sinatra fan. I sometimes think he was a better singer than Bing -- Frank's "Only The Lonely" album surpasses almost any other vocal performance in my opinion -- but it's a very close call, as Bing's jazz-based recordings in the 30s created a whole new way of singing, along with those of his friend Louis Armstrong. I do think Bing was the better actor, but Frank was no slouch. Both deserved their Oscars.
  11. BingFan

    Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

    The idea of missing footage is intriguing, and I'd love to see it. But it seems unlikely that it exists in the 1947 version, in light of the firsthand knowledge one of our posters has with some of the source materials for the film. For what it's worth, I've read the Davies novelette a couple of times (it's very entertaining), and while it differs from the 1947 film, I don't recall the missing scene described above. My guess is that the scene in question was in one of the remakes of Miracle on 34th Street: the TV versions that were done in 1955, 1959, and 1973, or the theatrical version from 1994. I haven't seen any of them, but the Wiki plot summary for the latter suggests that it differed significantly from the original, so that seems like a possibility. But it's just a guess...
  12. BingFan

    Andy Hardy and the Holiday season(s) ?

    As the OP has just noted, Love Finds Andy Hardy is set entirely during Christmas season. It's a true "Christmas movie" as much as classics like Miracle on 34th Street or Christmas in Connecticut, both of which I also love along with the many other Christmas films that TCM shows. The plot elements in Love Finds Andy Hardy all depend on the Christmas holiday. Andy is dating Lana Turner's character because pal Beezy doesn't want Lana dating anyone else seriously while he's out of town for the holiday, so Andy keeps her busy; it helps that Andy's steady girlfriend, Polly Benedict, is also visiting family (in Mason City, Iowa) for the holiday. Betsy Booth (Judy Garland) comes to Carvel to visit her grandparents for Christmas. There's a Christmas Eve dance, which presents a dating dilemma for Andy -- should he take Lana or Polly, who came home early? (Spoiler: he goes with neither one.) The Hardy family opens Christmas gifts very early on Christmas morning. There's hardly a more Christmas-oriented movie than Love Finds Andy Hardy. And the OP's idea of showing Hardy Family movies on Thanksgiving is not such an odd one. TCM already had a Hardy marathon on Thanksgiving back in the 1990s -- I remember it distinctly because I taped all of the movies for future viewings. Someone at TCM -- maybe Robert Osborne himself -- obviously saw that those movies were a good fit for the holiday. Anyway, I understand that Mickey Rooney and the Hardy movies aren't everyone's cup of tea. But I find those movies very entertaining, filled with humorous and touching plots that help me forget the stress of modern life. I used to find Mickey hard to take, but after watching the Hardy movies several times through, as well as many of his other movies, I've concluded that Mickey was one of the most talented actors in Hollywood. He could play comedy or drama, and he could sing and dance. He could do it all. At the same time, I love watching the "Christmas noir" movies that others have mentioned. We start our Christmas movie viewing at the beginning of November in our house, and we just finished watching Cover Up last night. We'll probably see Lady on a Train and Lady in the Lake before too long, as well as some of the other noir-ish Christmas movies in our collection. (We were very disappointed that Christmas Holiday had to be pulled from the Noir Alley December schedule, and hope that it'll show up next year for the holidays.)
  13. Just out of curiosity, what did you choose?
  14. Your rumor is fact, speedracer5. Criterion just sent out the following announcement about the 50% off Barnes & Noble sale, Nov. 2-Dec. 3: NEWSLETTER - NOVEMBER 2, 2018 As you wish . . . Starting today, all Criterion Blu-rays and DVDs are 50% off at Barnes & Noble, both online and in stores! This includes new editions of The Princess Bride, Sisters, Shampoo, and Andrei Rublev. You can also preorder our upcoming releases of Some Like It Hot, True Stories, and The Magnificent Ambersons, plus our landmark box set Ingmar Bergman’s Cinema. The sale runs through December 3!
  15. BingFan

    Tasty MacGuffins

    The buried treasure in O Brother, Where Art Thou?

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