Posts tagged with “bing crosby”
I had somehow made it thus far without seeing any Bing Crosby movies—until now I’d only known him as the guy who sang “Little Drummer Boy” with his friendly TV neighbor, 1977-via-1982 David Bowie—and as an introduction to his stuff I somehow managed recently to watch three films featuring the crooner/actor in the same night. This was an unintentional marathon—my original intent was just to view director Leo McCarey’s 1944 smash hit Going My Way and its equally popular sequel, 1945’s The Bells of St. Mary’s, both featuring Crosby in the lead role of easygoing, modern (for 1944) Father O’Malley. The DVD I procured of Going My Way just happened to be a double feature edition*, paired with the also very popular Holiday Inn, starring Crosby with his real-life pal/golf buddy Fred Astaire, so after viewing these wonderful McCarey pictures, I figured, hey, I like this “Der Bingle” fella well enough—might as well check out Holiday Inn. Man, was that a bad decision. Holiday Inn. Is. The. Worst. More on that later…
McCarey’s charming and sweet-natured 1944 Best Picture winner Going My Way features Crosby in a career (re)defining role that much of the 1944 moviegoing public wasn’t quite ready to see. It sounds silly now, but at the time, Crosby—the playboy crooner and “Road” picture goofball—playing a priest was seen as a blasphemous act. That knee-jerk reaction subsided quickly enough as audiences fell in love with Crosby’s genuine, fits-like-a-glove turn as the gentle, easygoing, and good hearted Father O’Malley, a young priest transferred from his hometown of St. Louis (shout out to the STL Browns, yo!) to a run-down parish in NYC to assist and eventually take over for the aging, very Irish, and cantankerous-on-the-outside Father Fitzgibbon, played by Dublin-born stage actor Barry Fitzgerald in a cherished performance that was (as a honest fluke) nominated for Oscars in both Best Actor AND Best Supporting Actor categories, the latter of which he clinched. (Fun fact: Fitzgerald later accidentally beheaded his Oscar statue while practicing his golf swing in his living room. Thanks, DVD Production Notes!) Read more »
WHITE CHRISTMAS (1954) So it’s Christmas. And the smash hit musical you produce with your business partner is on hiatus. What else is there to do but follow a singing sisters act to a Vermont inn, organize a last-minute reunion of your WWII platoon, and put on a play? This is the mother of all Christmas movies, starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Vera Ellen, and a slim and lovely Rosemary Clooney. What was at the time, I’m sure, a completely straightforward offering of holiday fun has morphed into high camp, an artifact from a time long past when ladies floated around in peignoirs and matching fur-trimmed robes and the people sitting up all night in the dining car of overnight trains were happy, successful singers and dancers enjoying milkshakes instead of some unfortunate homeless-looking guy who just barfed on himself and smells like pee. Or when be-turtlenecked crooners singing bedtime songs to ladies over midnight snacks of liverwurst sandwiches and warm milk seemed totally romantic. Even the trenches of World War II get the nostalgia treatment in the hands of these happy people, in the form of a musical number (“Gee, I wish I was back in the army!”). Try to imagine a time when Bing Crosby was considered a heartthrob, and I think you’ll start to get the idea. My family watches this every year. And yes, we know all the words to all the songs and yes, it makes holiday visitors visibly uncomfortable when we all sing along and YES, this only makes it more hilarious. The costumes and sets, the insane choreography of the dance numbers, the sweet and ridiculous plot contrivances, the genuinely talented and funny cast – so much to love! Netlflix it this holiday and give in to the fun.