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BingFan

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Everything posted by BingFan

  1. The lovely and talented Marsha Hunt (Pride and Prejudice, The Human Comedy) is 102. In the 1940s, she took a heroic stand against the House Committee on Un-American Activities as a member of the Committee for the First Amendment and was blacklisted as a result. She persisted nonetheless and continued to work in movies and TV when she could. Since her semi-retirement from show business, she has spent much of her time on humanitarian issues.
  2. From what he's said on the air, Eddie actually did know some of the actors et al. who made the noir films that he knows so much about. He sought them out for film screenings while they were still around, and it sounds like many of these noir veterans really appreciated someone knowing their work. In that way, Eddie reminds me of Robert Osborne and Peter Bogdanovich, both of whom also made significant efforts to get to know the actors, writers, and directors from Hollywood's Golden Age. I also make a point of watching Eddie's intros and outros each week, even if I don't watch the movie itself. I almost always learn something very interesting about the movies and their makers from Eddie. Although I like TCM's full schedule, Noir Alley is definitely my favorite, can't-miss part of the week. The back-and-forth between Eddie and Ben M. last night seemed very good-natured. I don't know how close they are "in real life," but the good-natured kidding between them seems to show a real friendship, even if from a distance. In fact, all of the current hosts seem to like and respect each other, even if they don't spend much time together. Ben M. has developed into an effective central figure for the channel, even if not to the extent of Robert O., and he's done a great job of welcoming the others and sharing the spotlight with them -- which, to me, gives Ben even more credibility as a host. As for the appearance of Ben's daughter last night, which I thought was very cute, I would guess that it wasn't pre-planned. I had the impression that maybe she had wandered into the room where Ben was on camera, and he saw her out of the corner of eye before she came into camera range. But that's just my guess.
  3. Long phone extension cords are featured in at least a couple of movies I can think of (in addition to Detour.) Neil Simon's Barefoot in the Park (both his stage play and his screenplay) has an exchange about a phone extension cord between newlywed Corie Bratter and the telephone company man who comes to the Bratters' new apartment to install the couple's phone. The telephone company man asks Corie where she wants to put the phone, and she replies that she doesn't know because the furniture hasn't arrived yet. She then asks him to give her a long extension cord so she can carry the phone around the apartment. The telephone company man is happy with that idea, saying that he can then use the existing wall connection. In the Jack Benny/Ann Sheridan movie George Washington Slept Here, the phone in the old house that the couple buys and eventually remodels is on a very long extension cord. When they get a call just after moving in and can't find the phone among the mess of boxes and furniture, Jack has to follow the extension cord from the wall-mounted bell box to the phone itself.
  4. I always wondered about George's involvement with "It Don't Come Easy," too. He's obviously the lead guitarist on the record, and as Dargo says, the song sounds like George's style. I wonder if George declined songwriting credit, since Ringo has readily acknowledged in interviews that the two ex-Beatles collaborated on the song. If you need evidence of Harrison's considerable involvement with the song, I'd draw your attention to George's own recording of it. As you can hear, the backing track is mostly the exact same one used for Ringo's single, so even though George's version is an officially unreleased bootleg, it's pretty close to a finished recording. The main difference is that George's version has the backing vocalists singing "Hare Krishna" at certain points, while Ringo's single mixes down those vocals (they're still barely audible) and adds a horn section that's not on the George version. I wonder if George intended his vocal to be a guide for Ringo's performance on the version that was ultimately released.
  5. I think Ringo is an outstanding drummer. But when someone opines on his drumming talent, I always think of John Lennon's unfair joke at Ringo's expense. Asked if Ringo was the best drummer in the world, John replied dismissively, "He wasn't even the best drummer in the Beatles" -- apparently referring to Paul's very credible drumming. If the comment isn't apocryphal, maybe John was just kidding his old pal. I hope so. Ringo was exactly the right drummer for the Beatles, and as of a few years ago, he still had that talent when I saw him play one summer night.
  6. I agree that Ringo was the best actor in the Beatles. The others are amusing in A Hard Day's Night (and the Beatles' other movies), but Ringo created more of a character in HDN than the others did. I think the only other movie I've seen Ringo in is Son of Dracula (1974), which starred Harry Nilsson and featured veteran British actor Dennis Price, as well musician friends Keith Moon, Leon Russell, and Klaus Voorman. It came out while I was in high school, and along with a friend who was also a devoted Beatle fan, I went to see it in one of the few showings that this relatively under-distributed movie received. Even to our teenaged sensibilities, the humor seemed overly broad, but the movie was fun and featured some good Nilsson vocal performances ("Without You," which he didn't write, and "Jump Into The Fire," which he did). I've always wanted to see The Magic Christian but have never found an opportunity (although I love the Badfinger album with songs from the movie). Ringo is a great album, one of the best solo works by any of the ex-Beatles. In fact, because of the hits from that album, along with the excellent hit single "It Don't Come Easy," Ringo was the most musically successful ex-Beatle for a time. I won the Ringo album from a radio station when it first came out, and I played it endlessly. It features performances by all of the Beatles, the Band, Marc Bolan, Billy Preston, and Nilsson, among others, as well as songs written by Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, Ringo, and Randy Newman. A few years back, I saw Ringo and his All-Starr Band (this incarnation featuring Todd Rundgren). It was a very enjoyable night of hits associated with Ringo and his various band members. I remember being impressed by how fit Ringo was, for a guy in his 70s at the time. He was very energetic throughout the show and seemed determined to really entertain the sold-out crowd. Ringo Starr may not have had his biggest accomplishments in the movie world, but overall, he's entertained a lot of people for a lot of years. Happy Birthday, Ringo!!
  7. Several years ago, I was inspired to get a 2-CD set of Morricone's music when I heard a translated interview with him on NPR. Even though I don't particularly care for some of the associated movies (like the spaghetti westerns, which I find oppressive with their heat and dust and generally unpleasant characters), I found the music extremely captivating. I also learned from this selection of his music that it varied much more widely in style than I had realized -- not everything was twangy guitars and whistling (although I loved those pieces, too). These two discs take me into another world. RIP Maestro.
  8. I'll keep my eye out for the From the Vault discs -- they sound interesting! I also have all of the Jonzo and Sepia Bing Crosby discs, and most of the BCE discs. (There are still a few of the latter that I haven't gotten yet.) While not every recording from either singer is a masterwork, they're all worth hearing at least once, and there are enough masterworks to fill many, many hours. Yes, Frank was the best at what he did. (Not that there aren't others worth hearing, too!)
  9. I'm pretty sure I have all or almost all of Frank's recorded work, too. Once I got started on Sinatra, I wanted it all. I may have missed a stray alternate take here or there (simply because I didn't know about it), but I've at least tried to get everything. (The Columbia "blue box," the Reprise "suitcase," all of the Capitol albums including "Tone Poems," various compilations with otherwise-unreleased recordings -- going so far as to buy one compilation twice because a bonus disc of the Sinatra/Crosby/Waring Christmas album had been added.) You did the right thing by seeing a Sinatra concert when you had the chance. I could have gone to at least one or two myself, but I had it in my head that his latter-day performances would be a disappointment because he was past his prime. What a mistake! Sure, he was past his prime, but he still knew how to "sell" a song. Only after Frank had retired did I learn from live recordings of his late concerts that his "not-prime" years were still full of great performances. But I'll always have his recordings, which I never tire of.
  10. Yes, "Coast-to-Coast Big Mouth" is probably my favorite episode of one of my favorite TV shows -- and Carl Reiner is a big reason for both. I've always admired anyone who can be funny -- like someone who can draw or write a beautiful tune, they have a talent that can enhance others' lives. And Carl certainly had a talent for "funny." Besides "The Dick Van Dyke Show," I love Carl's performances with Sid Caesar on his TV shows and as "Whittaker Walt" in THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING, THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING!" (a movie my wife and I watch yearly); his script for THE THRILL OF IT ALL (and his cameo appearance); and his movie THE COMIC (starring Van Dyke and Mickey Rooney as silent movie actors), among other things he did. Reiner's book "My Anecdotal Life" is like hearing sweetly humorous stories from an old friend. I'd highly recommend it. (I should re-read it myself!) And I admire Carl's active life, continuing to interact with the world through his tweets up until his very last day. Carl Reiner left the world a better place by being part of it for 98 years.
  11. Yes, Sinatra did come to like George Harrison's "Something" quite a bit, recording it in the studio not once but twice. The 1970 version was arranged by Lennie Hayton, husband of Lena Horne, and the 1979 version was arranged by frequent Sinatra collaborator Nelson Riddle. And Frank performed "Something" frequently in concert, calling it "the greatest love song of the last 50 years." Harrison loved Frank's performances of the song. When George toured Japan in the early 90s, his last live performances, he adopted Frank's lyrical change, "You stick around, Jack...." (Harrison's modified version can be heard on his LIVE IN JAPAN album.) Here are Frank and George together in 1968, at a Sinatra recording session. (The picture also shows Patti Boyd Harrison and, to the right, Beatle friend and aide Mal Evans.)
  12. Regarding the Father's Day theme on which I'm a bit late, has anyone mentioned SHADOW ON THE WALL (1950), a film that Eddie showed a while back? If I remember correctly, Zachary Scott is the father of a young girl, Gigi Perreau, who has psychological problems after witnessing a murder, of which her father is accused. Nancy Davis (Reagan) is a psychiatrist who helps the young girl remember what happened. And let me agree heartily in endorsing THE FALLEN IDOL. Ralph Richardson, Michele Morgan, and child actor Bobby Henrey are all brilliant, and this first teaming of author Graham Greene and director Carol Reed (who also worked together on THE THIRD MAN and OUR MAN IN HAVANA) produces a great movie. THE FALLEN IDOL is one of my wife's very favorites, so we've watched it several times. (Several years ago, through a happy coincidence, Criterion released the movie on DVD at almost the same time that I found an original FALLEN IDOL poster -- both of which then became Christmas presents for my wife.)
  13. Interesting! I was wondering where that sequence was filmed. It must have been a challenge for the TV camera to track through that large space (or were they using a film camera?).
  14. Apologies for continuing the off-topic discussion -- but I've always loved Steve Allen's "This Could Be the Start of Something Big," which was an impressive musical achievement for someone who was less formally trained. I had never seen this outstanding video before. I was nicely surprised when Sinatra -- in an iconic pose under a street lamp and holding a raincoat -- joined in the song for a small part. I don't believe he ever recorded this excellent song, so I was glad to hear him singing it, albeit briefly. Another great version is Count Basie's. Here's a live recording from the Sands in Vegas, circa 1966, when Basie was opening for and then backing Sinatra:
  15. Good points, especially the last one about Kaye's musical talent. I'm sure you probably remember that although Danny apparently couldn't read music, he was invited to conduct major symphony orchestras in the 60s and 70s, usually as a charity fundraiser. According to Wikipedia: Kaye's "ability with an orchestra was mentioned by Dimitri Mitropoulos, then conductor of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. After Kaye's appearance Mitropoulos remarked, 'Here is a man who is not musically trained, who cannot even read music and he gets more out of my orchestra than I have.'" Here's a video of Kaye conducting the National Symphony Orchestra in 1962: https://www.kennedy-center.org/video/center/other/2020/danny-kaye/
  16. Sad to hear about this talented actor's passing. My wife and I just watched him in CHARIOTS OF FIRE earlier this week. I'm glad he had the success that his talent deserved.
  17. I'm torn when it comes to BALL OF FIRE and A SONG IS BORN. I like both movies, which share a very entertaining story. For me, on the plus side for BALL OF FIRE are the leads -- Barbara Stanwyck and Gary Cooper -- and the great character actors playing the professors. In A SONG IS BORN, the strengths are Danny Kaye (I've been a fan since I was a kid watching his 60s TV show) and the all-star jazz musicians playing some great music. Although I do like A SONG IS BORN, I find BALL OF FIRE to be the better movie, in large part because Stanwyck and the supporting cast, as actors, edge out their counterparts in A SONG IS BORN. Stanwyck is simply a better actor than Virginia Mayo, and while Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, Benny Carter, Tommy Dorsey, Lionel Hampton, and the other "professors" in A SONG IS BORN were certainly at the top of the jazz world in the 40s, they weren't a match as actors for the professors in BALL OF FIRE, including S.Z. Sakall, Henry Travers, Oscar Homolka, Leonid Kinskey, and Richard Haydn. (And as much as I love Danny Kaye, Gary Cooper easily did just as well in the same role.) For jazz fans, BALL OF FIRE featured Gene Krupa and his orchestra, including trumpeter Roy Eldridge. For what it's worth, when Howard Hawks, who directed both films, was asked why he remade BALL OF FIRE as A SONG IS BORN, he admitted it was just for the money. (If I remember correctly, he said that in the book-length interview with Joseph McBride, HAWKS ON HAWKS.)
  18. You didn't miss it after all. Turn on TCM right now if you still want to see Darkness in the Daytime. It's on today (Fri., 6/19).
  19. I've been on a streak reading books about the movies lately. Right now, I'm re-reading David Niven's The Moon's A Balloon and Bring on the Empty Horses (in a combined volume). The two books are full of more well-told Hollywood anecdotes than any other book on the subject. Enjoyable from beginning to end. (Although I'm not finished with them this time around, I've read them before.) Before that I re-read F. Scott Fitzgerald's Pat Hobby Stories, a hilarious little book about a down-and-out screenwriter and his misadventures trying to eke out a living by working a week or two at a time for various studios. (Some real Hollywood folks show up in the short stories, like Ronald Colman and "Young Doug," whom Pat knows, and he's drive crazy by people saying he looks just like Orson Welles.) And before F. Scott, I read Woody Allen's Apropos of Nothing, which, as an Allen fan, I found very interesting, fairly well-written, and funny in places. His long career has included writing for TV and The New Yorker, stand-up comedy in the clubs, and Broadway plays, as well as his well-known film work. Even if you skip his fairly detailed recounting of his problems with Mia Farrow (which I found interesting and pretty persuasive), it's a book worth reading, in my opinion. Given the controversy over Allen, his book obviously won't be for everyone, but I'd highly recommend the Fitzgerald and Niven volumes to anyone who's interested in Hollywood's Golden Era.
  20. In addition to ORCHESTRA WIVES, I'd also recommend SUN VALLEY SERENADE if you'd like to see Miller and his orchestra on screen. The plot of ORCHESTRA WIVES focuses more on the band than does SUN VALLEY SERENADE, which stars Sonja Henie and focuses more on her skating (and even some skiing). But both movies are very entertaining and show the Glenn Miller Orchestra playing some of their best tunes.
  21. It's funny that you mention that chronological glitch, because I noticed the exact same issue when I saw the movie last night. It also hadn't occurred to me during many prior viewings going back to first seeing THE GLENN MILLER STORY on TV one New Year's Eve in the 1960s. (Of course, at that age -- I couldn't have been more than 10 -- I wouldn't have known enough about movie and music history to spot the problem.) THE GLENN MILLER STORY, although a very enjoyable movie in my opinion, isn't exactly scrupulous when it comes to the facts, like a lot of bio pics. For example, Tex Beneke, Miller's talented vocalist and tenor sax player -- he sang lead on hits like "Chattanooga Choo Choo," "I've Got A Gal In Kalamazoo," and "Don't Sit Under The Apple Tree (With Anyone Else But Me)" -- isn't mentioned at all. If I remember correctly, it's because he had a falling-out with Miller's widow after the war. Mrs. Miller asked Tex to take over leading her late husband's reconstituted "ghost" orchestra (which I believe still exists to this day). Beneke did so for a few post-war years with a fair amount of success but wanted to expand the band's repertoire to reflect his own musical preferences, rather than being limited to playing only the band's old arrangements, as Mrs. Miller wished. When they couldn't reach an agreement, Beneke parted ways with the Miller band and continued his career with his own band and recordings. (A reunion Christmas album with the other Miller vocalists, "Christmas Serenade in the Glenn Miller Style," is particularly enjoyable listening.) The movie's Wikipedia page notes other interesting factual issues: "There are several anachronisms in the picture. When the military band led by Miller is playing in front of General "Hap" Arnold, a B-29 bomber is in the background. The marching troops are desegregated, which didn't happen until 1948. Scenes ostensibly shot in England are clearly staged in the U.S., as witness the presence of RCA Type 44 microphones during a BBC broadcast. In reality, the BBC could not afford them and commissioned its own, cheaper version. In addition, several key plot points are either highly fictionalized from actual events or were invented for the film: Miller is shown as disliking the tune "Little Brown Jug" and only performing it in 1944 as a "special arrangement" for his wife. The song was actually first performed and recorded in 1939, became one of his most popular early hits, and was performed numerous times by both the civilian and AAF Orchestras. The 1939 recording went on to sell over a million copies.[3] "Pennsylvania 6-5000" is depicted as the telephone number of a boarding house where Miller is staying. It was, and is, the telephone number of the Hotel Pennsylvania in New York City, where the Glenn Miller Orchestra frequently performed in the Café Rouge. Miller was in fact dressed down for performing jazz marches and told by a superior officer that Sousa's marches served the military well in World War I. However, in the film his character apologizes sheepishly and is only rescued by another officer whose children are fans. Miller's biographer George T. Simon states that his actual response was "Are you still flying the same planes you flew in the last war?",[4] after which the jazz marches stayed. Neither Frances Langford nor the Modernaires performed with Miller's Army Air Force Band."
  22. I might already have related this story; if so, my apologies. One morning in 2018, I was walking from Washington, DC's Union Station to my office on the other side of the National Mall. I was surprised to come upon this sight: Yes, it's the car that Steve McQueen drove in Bullitt. For some reason I no longer remember, it was being displayed in a plexiglass box on the Mall. A nice surprise that definitely made my day unexpectedly more interesting!
  23. Good idea! I sometimes really like the song in the monthly TCM promo but rarely know the name of the song or the performer. (Yes, I'm out of touch with current music, but that doesn't mean that I don't like it when I hear it, even though I mostly listen to music from before I was born.)
  24. Earl Stanley Morner was first billed as "Stanley Morner" during his MGM contract, then as "Richard Stanley" with Paramount, before finally settling at Warner Bros. under his most well-known name:
  25. Max Showalter's name was changed to "Casey Adams" by Darryl F. Zanuck when Showalter was signed to 20th Century Fox in the 40s. Under his new name, he appeared in many films and TV shows, including Niagara (1953) with Marilyn Monroe and Joseph Cotten; and It Happened to Jane (1959) with Doris Day and Jack Lemmon. He also appeared as "Casey Adams" when he played Ward Cleaver in the pilot for Leave It To Beaver. (Hugh Beaumont, of course, played Ward in the series itself.) Showalter went back to his original name in the 60s and appeared in such well-known films as Elmer Gantry (1960) with Burt Lancaster and Shirley Jones; The Music Man (1962), again with Jones and Robert Preston; and How to Murder Your Wife (1965), again with Lemmon. Showalter appeared in many other movies and TV shows until his retirement in 1984. (My thanks to Wikipedia and IMDB for some of these details.)
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