20 posts in this topic

I had this mystery on IMDb when it had its boards, I have it on IMDb v2.0's boards now, I have it on Rotten Tomatoes' boards, on IMDf's boards, I've contacted people who worked on the film, librarians, music historians, singers...

 

All that is to say we're no closer to an answer than when I first posted this mystery nearly a year ago. 

 

The question is simple: who sang the three Cole Porter songs in the movie Sleuth (1972) The answer is far from simple, sending me down a rabbit hole of false leads and red herrings. I started with the post a year ago on IMDb, after finding out that the mystery had been going around the Internet for at least ten years:

The mystery is that just about no one seems to know who sang three Cole Porter songs--"Just One of Those Things," "You Do Something to Me," and "Anything Goes"--in the movie Sleuth (1972). Here's a link to a video of Laurence Olivier's character dancing to them in a scene from the movie: www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_VVr8ScGOc. One would think that by this time someone would have some idea of who sang them, but the identity of the singer just seems a mystery despite some promising leads over the years, none of which have panned out. Even more curiously, there is no singer identified in the end credits, and the three songs did not appear on the movie's soundtrack.

 

From what I could find, the last time that someone could look into this question was at the website "Soundtrack Collector" on March 5 of this year; the last poster stated that he had found "the exact song" of "Anything Goes" on Amazon Music for $1.29. After checking Amazon Music and looking through/previewing the many different versions of "Anything Goes," I was unable to find the song to which he referred and could not find the version from Sleuth. The poster immediately before him suggested that "You Do Something to Me" was on the soundtrack for Woody Allen's Magic in the Moonlight, but, after checking that, I discovered that that version was sung by Frank Luther for Leo Reisman's orchestra, a candidate considered since the beginning--and not the actual singer from Sleuth. The weird thing about the whole thing is that it seems so mysterious. Why should it be so difficult to find who sang three songs? Why wasn't the singer's name in the credits? Why didn't the soundtrack include the songs?

 

 

 

 

We came to the conclusion, verified by several music experts, that it was not in fact a '30s singer who sang the songs, but rather someone hired specially for the movie to imitate the '30s style.

 

That was when the IMDb boards shut down, and this mystery kind of got fragmented among several different websites. 

 

I've been up and down looking for this silly thing. My latest attempt was reaching out to singer and music historian Michael Feinstein, who posted the mystery to his Facebook page and received no conclusive answer. Before that, I e-mailed Graham V. Hartstone, one of the few Sleuth crew members still with us, and he also had no idea. 

 

Can anyone help? Does anyone know a way to find this answer at long last? As said, it has been floating around the Internet for at least ten years, yet we still don't know.

 

Relevant Links:

 

http://www.soundtrackcollector.com/forum/displayquestion.php?topicid=7598

 

http://imdb2.freeforums.net/post/810/thread

 

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=1715334931829080&id=304543142908273&__tn__=%2AW-R

 

Many thanks!

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 Since the recording and vocal artists aren't cited in the credits, there are two possibilities, they were public domain recordings, or the songs were recorded for the movie.  If the recordings were in the public domain, they would be on 78s, and have a lot of noise and poor fidelity--bad enough even to be heard over the archaic sound system in the house.  But the recordings are relatively good, so it's likely they were recorded for the movie.  But if you are really intent on pursuing this, it would be better to try jazz music discussion sites.  Or call a jazz station--a real one, not a smooth jazz station.  There you might find people who could identify the singer, and even the orchestra.

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Thanks for the help, Slaytonf. I'll definitely try to reach out to a few of those sites/stations. I'd just like to have this solved at long last. Thanks again.

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I've sent several e-mails off to music boards and companies, to no avail thus far. Just to let everyone here know...

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Let me emphasize getting in touch with jazz music stations.  They can have extremely knowledgable people.  Two I know of are KSDS at San Diego City College, and KJAZZ at Cal State Long Beach.  But stations in large cities like Chicago, or New York would also be as good, I expect.

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I think I'm going to go with Ray Noble w/ Al Bowlly here (or maybe just Al Bowlly) - if it has to be narrowed down to a known singer.  I listened to the sample here which I came across in your links:

 

https://youtu.be/4_VVr8ScGOc

 

and that singer reminded me of the song at the end of The Shining:

 

https://youtu.be/vQfJKmXm_7c

 

Here is a clearer recording

 

https://youtu.be/-fN-Xjpd-qE

 

And that turned out to be Al Bowlly.

 

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0081505/soundtrack?ref_=tt_trv_snd

 

No references, nothing to go by, other than A-B listening.  Your video sounds more tinny (vox high pass filtered maybe around 500 Hz), intentionally to match the sound of a Victrola or Western Electric transducer from the era, whereas the song from The Shining has a prominent 250-ish Hz resonance in the recording (he doesn't necessarily have a deeper voice), and reverb in the movie.

 

P.S. I see someone else mentioned Ray Noble in the past.  Okay, maybe a sound-alike.  Agree with slaytonf, get in touch with radio stations and other people in the industry.

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MovieCollector, 

 

I (and others who have looked into this mystery before) have considered Bowlly for a long, long time, and we sent the Sleuth clip to a music professor who's an expert on Bowlly. He actually wrote back to say that (1) that it's not Bowlly, (2) that it may be someone copying Bowlly's (and Frank Luther's) style, and (3) that it is most likely not from the '30s but rather made for the moving, imitating the '30s style.

 

Still, many thanks for the interest and the help! :)

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Let me emphasize getting in touch with jazz music stations.  They can have extremely knowledgable people.  Two I know of are KSDS at San Diego City College, and KJAZZ at Cal State Long Beach.  But stations in large cities like Chicago, or New York would also be as good, I expect.

 

 

Slayton, I live in Massachusetts, and I've reached out to MassJazz. If they're unsuccessful, I may try a station in New York.

 

Many thanks.

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In 1970 there was a Time-Life series of LPs called The Swing Era.  It featured the Billy May Orchestra.  They played faithfully to the original artist's recordings, with the newer technology of the day including being in stereo.  He was still active during those years doing music for movies and TV.  Maybe someone like this.

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According to the AFI Catalog, the movie used the Cole Porter songs by arrangement with Warner Brothers Publishing:

http://www.afi.com/members/catalog/DetailView.aspx?s=&Movie=54560

 

This is their website:

http://www.warnerchappell.com/

 

Maybe they can also give more information about the singer and recordings.

Thanks, Arsan. Both I and someone else on IMDb v2.0 have reached out to Warner Bros. Publishing, and they never responded to either one of us, unfortunately.

 

In 1970 there was a Time-Life series of LPs called The Swing Era.  It featured the Billy May Orchestra.  They played faithfully to the original artist's recordings, with the newer technology of the day including being in stereo.  He was still active during those years doing music for movies and TV.  Maybe someone like this.

 

I'll look into that, thanks.

 

By the way, the station in Boston never responded to e-mails or calls, so they're out. I don't have much time to devote to this now, but I can see if a station in New York can help. Thanks again, guys!

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Hi, everyone—

Just bumping this. None of the stations ever got back to me, for better or worse.

Anyone interested? Have some more information?

Thanks.

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How did you try and get in touch with them?  Did you call during business hours and actually talk to someone?  Let me suggest two stations I listen to.  One is KSDS, out of San Diego City College.  The other is Kjazz, or KKJZ, out of Long Beach State University.  Be ready to supply a recording of the singer, or where people can go to hear the song.  Becoming a member of these public radio stations might be a help in getting a response.

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Contact Barry at VenerableRadio. The 78rpm record database he used for his streaming media station had a search function --to which I always used to turn --to help identify "song version mysteries" like this.

For instance if I heard a version of "Anything Goes" on his playlist, (streamed through my PC's media player) I'd navigate to the station website, navigate to the search page, type in, "Anything Goes" and I'd see every version contained in the song database from which his server pulled tracks from.

He didn't design the audio collection himself; he purchased most of it ready-made--which means the same data is available if you find anyone else hosting the same type of station set-up.

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Thank you, @Sgt_Markoff. I should let you know that it’s almost definitely not an authentic record from the ‘30s, as it appears to be—I’ve talked to several different sources, including several music professors, who told me that for a number or reasons related to the recording, it’s probably contemporaneous with the movie (‘70s), made to sound like a ‘30s recording. (It particularly sounds like Al Bowlly and Frank Luther, but the vocals aren’t actually either man’s.)

Also: I’ve been reluctant to post this because I have no evidence for it, but at IMDb v2.0 we’ve stumbled one the most convincing candidate yet (in my opinion) for the identity of the singer—David Kernan. He worked in theatre on Broadway and the West End as well as in the film business, he’d sung Porter before, he’d previously worked with Michael Caine in Zulu, and the vocals sound remarkably close. I’ve tried to find any contact information for Kernan, to no avail, and every other source to which I’ve reached out (I couldn’t find an agent, but I did find organizations with which he’s affiliated) hasn’t gotten back to me.

Here’s the Sleuth singer again: 

And here’s Kernan singing a Porter medley:

https://youtu.be/HyVqj-4Z3UI 

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Well done, Salzmank.

If no one else has mentioned it yet, you might also try Mudcat.org. A vast community of knowledgeable music buffs there.

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On 10/12/2018 at 9:09 AM, Sgt_Markoff said:

Well done, Salzmank.

 If no one else has mentioned it yet, you might also try Mudcat.org. A vast community of knowledgeable music buffs there.

Ah! No one has mentioned that, Sgt_Markoff. Thanks, I’ll try there. I’d like to see if someone can verify Kernan; if so, I’ll (at long, LONG last) mark this one a “solved.” 

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1 hour ago, Salzmank said:

Ah! No one has mentioned that, Sgt_Markoff. Thanks, I’ll try there. I’d like to see if someone can verify Kernan; if so, I’ll (at long, LONG last) mark this one a “solved.” 

Pending congrats...  I know you have been trying to resolve this for a long time.

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