stevenlewis.info Bing Crosby starred in 55 full-length motion pictures, beginning with The Big Broadcast in 1932 and ending with a television movie, Dr. Cook's Garden, in 1971. He starred in about a dozen short movies ("Please," "Just an Echo," "Blue of the Night") and made numerous cameo appearances ("The Big Broadcast of 1936," "Let's Make Love," "That's Entertainment") as well as several unbilled cameos in Bob Hope's movies ("Princess and the Pirate," "My Favorite Brunette," "Son of Paleface" and "Alias Jesse James"). At least 23 of Crosby's movies were among the top ten box office hits during the year of their release. Bing was among the top ten box office stars a total of 15 years. For 5 consecutive years ('44-48) Bing was the top box office draw in America, a record not equalled until the 1970s. Not included in this list are the many films that use Crosby's music (Paper Moon), historical clips (Brother Can You Spare a Dime) or make reference to him. Nor have I included Bing's reminiscences in retrospectives (such as That's Entertainment), mere narratives (such as Cinerama's Russian Adventure and Bing's Britain) or sports promotions (Don't Hook Now). For a listing of Crosby movies currently available click on DVD.

1 9 3 0

The King Of Jazz (Universal, 105 minutes, COLOR)
CAMEO: This musical tribute to Bing's boss, Paul Whiteman, was Bing's motion picture debut and was supposed to include Bing's solo performance of the "Song of the Dawn." But John Boles got the honor while Bing cooled his heels in jail on a drunken driving charge. Bing was released to appear in several scenes as one of Paul Whiteman's Rhythm Boys singing "A Bench in the Park," "Mississippi Mud," "So the Bluebirds and the Blackbirds Got Together" and "Happy Feet." The film was added to the National Film Registry for special preservation in 2013. The restored film debuted in 2016.
TWO PLUS FOURS (RKO-Pathe, 17 minutes, b&w)
CAMEO: Bing appears with the Rhythm Boys and others to sing two versions of "The Stein Song."
CHECK AND DOUBLE CHECK (Radio, 70 minutes, b&w)
CAMEO: The Rhythm Boys are heard but not seen singing "Three Little Words" to the accompaniment of the Duke Ellington Orchestra in this first feature film to star radio's Amos and Andy.
REACHING FOR THE MOON (United Artists, 90 minutes, b&w)
CAMEO: Bing made quite a splash in a cameo appearance in this Douglas Fairbanks Sr. film singing the only song in the movie, Irving Berlin's "When the Folks High Up Do the Mean Low Down." Curiously, Bing never recorded the song.

1 9 3 1

CONFESSIONS OF A COED (Paramount-Publix, 74 minutes, b&w)
CAMEO: In Bing's last bit part he plays a band vocalist and sings "Ya Got Love" with the Rhythm Boys and solos on Out of Nowhere.
I SURRENDER DEAR (Mack Sennett, 22 minutes, b&w)
CAST: Bing Crosby (as himself), Marion Sayers, Luis Alberni, Arthur Stone, Julia Griffith, George Gray, Alice Adair. SONGS: "At Your Command," "I Surrender Dear," "Out of Nowhere" and "A Little Bit of Heaven." PLOT: Bing mistakes Sayer for his sister and kisses her. This irritates Sayer's pompous boyfriend and a chase ensues. When Sayer learns that Bing is the her favorite radio crooner, she falls in his arms and they elope. It happens every day.

ONE MORE CHANCE (Mack Sennett, 20 minutes, b&w)
CAST: Bing Crosby (Bing Bangs, later Sunny Monday), Patsy O'Leary, Arthur Stone, Matty Kemp. SONGS: "Magic C.O.D." (a parody of "I Surrender Dear")," "Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams," "I'd Climb the Highest Mountain" and "Just One More Chance." PLOT: Bing gives up his job selling washing machines in Hoboken and moves with his wife to the West Coast. The film details their misadventures along the way, including a separation from his wife, who reunites with him after Bing has found success as a Hollywood radio star and croons "Just One More Chance" to her.

DREAM HOUSE (Mack Sennett, 19 minutes, b&w)
CAST: Bing Crosby (Bing Fawcett), Ann Christy, Katherine Ward, Eddie Phillips, William Davidson, Vernon Dent. SONGS: "When I Take My Sugar to Tea," "It Must be True," "Merrily We Roll Along" and "Dream House." PLOT: Bing is a plumber engaged to Ann Christy. While Bing builds their "dream house" in Missouri, Ann's mom is determined to break them up and see that her daughter becomes a Hollywood starlet. Bing follows Ann to Hollywood, attempts to sneak onto her movie set, gets squirted with oil and joins the black cast in his fiancee's movie as an extra. He escapes with Ann, pursued by a stage lion and an axe-wielding mom. If Bing thinks Ann's mom's a pain now, wait till she's his mother-in-law! This short film was also released under the title "Crooner's Holiday."

BILLBOARD GIRL (Mack Sennett, 21 minutes, b&w)
CAST: Bing Crosby (as himself), Margie Kane, Dick Stewart, Jimmy Eagles, Lincoln Stedman, George Pearce. SONGS: "Were You Sincere?" and "For You." PLOT: Bing plays a magazine salesman trying to earn his way to Benson College who falls in love with a girl on a billboard and writes to her. Her brother intercepts his letters and writes a gushy response inviting him to visit. Bing does, but the "girl" he courts is the brother dressed in drag. In the end, though, Bing's singing wins over not only the girl, but her whole family.

1 9 3 2

THE BIG BROADCAST (Paramount, director Frank Tuttle, 80 minutes, b&w)
CAST: Bing Crosby (as himself), Stu Erwin, Leila Hyams, Sharon Lynne, George Burns, Gracie Allen, Ralph Robertson, Kate Smith, Arthur Tracy, the Mills Brothers, the Boswell Sisters and Cab Calloway. SONGS: Dinah, "Here Lies Love," "Please," "Where the Blue of the Night." PLOT: Bing's first feature-length motion picture brought together many new stars of radio. The plot revolved around a radio station managed by George Burns, whose life was made complicated by his irresponsible, happy-go-lucky radio star, Bing. You might say that Bing played himself. Reviewed by Jay Mandeville

BLUE OF THE NIGHT (Mack Sennett, 20 minutes, b&w)
CAST: Bing Crosby (as himself), Margie Kane, Franklin Pangborn, Toby Wing, Bud Jamison. SONGS: "My Silent Love," "Auf Wiedersehen My Dear," "Every Time My Heart Beats," "Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight" and "Where the Blue of the Night." PLOT: Kane tells folks aboard a train she is engaged to the radio crooner Crosby, not realizing that Bing is on board. Bing plays along by telling reporters of Kane's engagement to him, but no one believes he is really Bing until he sings "Where the Blue of the Night," which eventually became his theme.

SING BING SING (Mack Sennett, 19 minutes, b&w)
CAST: Bing Crosby (as himself), Florine McKinney, Irving Bacon, Franklin Pangborn, Arthur Stone, Marvin Loback. SONGS: "In My Hideaway," "Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea," "Loveable" and "Snuggled on Your Shoulder." PLOT: Bing plays a radio crooner who tries to elope with McKinney over the dead bodies of her father and her fiancee. They succeed with the help of a gorilla.

1 9 3 3

COLLEGE HUMOR (Paramount, director Wesley Ruggles, 68 minutes, b&w)
CAST: Bing Crosby (Professor Frederick Danvers), Jack Oakie, Mary Carlisle, Richard Arlen, Mary Kornmann, George Burns, Gracie Allen, Lona Andre, Joseph Sawyer. SONGS: "The Old Ox Road," "Learn to Croon," "Play Ball," "Moonstruck." PLOT: Bing plays a romantic scholar who is pursued by coed Mary Carlisle to the dismay of the varsity football star.

TOO MUCH HARMONY
(Paramount, director Edward Sutherland, 76 minutes, b&w)
CAST: Bing Crosby (Eddie Bronson), Jack Oakie and his mom, Judith Allen, Skeets Gallagher, Harry Green, Lilyan Tashman, Ned Sparks, Kitty Kelly. SONGS: "The Day You Came Along," "Black Moonlight," "Thanks," "Boo-Boo-Boo," "Buckin' the Wind." PLOT: Bing plays a famous singer who helps the two women in his life.

GOING HOLLYWOOD
(MGM, director Raoul Walsh, 75 minutes, b&w)
CAST: Bing Crosby (Bill Williams), Marion Davies, Fifi D'orsay, Stuart Erwin, Patsy Kelly, Bobby Watson, Ned Sparks, Sterling Holloway, Lennie Hayton's Orchestra, the Radio Rogues. SONGS: "Temptation," "We'll Make Hay While the Sun Shines," "Our Big Love Scene," "Beautiful Girl," "Just an Echo in the Valley" and "Going Hollywood." PLOT: Bing was 'loaned' by Paramount to MGM to help revive the fading career of Marion Davies, the girlfriend of media mogul William Randolph Hearst. Davies plays a fan of Bing's who follows him to Hollywood and tries to woo him away from his French co-star, Fifi D'orsay. A highlight of the film was a delightful musical-comedy sequence in which the Radio Rogues parody Bing's singing rivals Russ Columbo, Rudy Vallee and Kate Smith. Davies' career was not revived, but Bing earned a cool 50 Grand for his efforts. Reviewed by Jay Mandeville.

PLEASE (Paramount, director Arvid Gillstrom, 22 minutes, b&w)
CAST: Bing Crosby (as himself), Mary Kornman, Vernon Dent, Dick Elliott, Dickie Kilby. SONGS: "Please," "You're Getting to be a Habit with Me" and "I Don't Stand a Ghost of a Chance with You." PLOT: Bing helps a girl with her car, annoying her boyfriend. The two guys sing for the girl's hand, Crosby wins.

1 9 3 4 BING'S BOX-OFFICE RANKING: #7

HERE IS MY HEART (Paramount, director Frank Tuttle, 77 minutes, b&w)
CAST: Bing Crosby (J. Paul Jones), Kitty Carlisle, Roland Young, Allison Skipworth, Reginald Owen, William Frawley. SONGS: "June in January," "Love is Just Around the Corner," "With Every Breath I Take." PLOT: Bing is a radio star in love with Princess Alexandra (Carlisle).

SHE LOVES ME NOT (Paramount, director Elliott Nugent, 83 minutes, b&w)
CAST: Bing Crosby (Paul Lawton), Miriam Hopkins, Kitty Carlisle, Edward Nugent, Henry Stephenson, Warren Hymer, Judith Allen. SONGS: "I'm Hummin, I'm Whistlin, I'm Singin," "Love in Bloom," "Straight from the Shoulder." PLOT: Hopkins is ebullient and hilarious as a nightclub performer who hides out from gangsters with college man Crosby in his Princeton dorm after she observes a murder. During the filming Bing rebelled against the glueing of his ears to his head.

JUST AN ECHO (Paramount, director Arvid Gillstrom, 20 minutes, b&w)
CAST: Bing Crosby, Vernon Dent, Mary Kornman, Carl Harbaugh, Alice Ardell. SONGS: "Just an Echo in the Valley," "Going Going Gone," "Play Fiddle Play," "Two Tickets to Georgia" and "You're Beautiful Tonight My Dear." PLOT: Bing takes a cigarette away from Mary twice. The first time ends in the spooking of a horse, the second time ends with Bing almost losing his job. Did I mention that Bing plays a forest ranger? Perhaps Ted Turner could resurrect and colorize this short for use as an educational film for high schools, if he can find the missing last reel of the movie.

WE'RE NOT DRESSING (Paramount, director Norman Taurog, 77 minutes, b&w)
CAST: Bing Crosby (Steven Jones), Carole Lombard, George Burns, Gracie Allen, Ethel Merman, Ray Milland, Leon Errol, Droopy the Bear. SONGS: "Love Thy Neighbor," "Goodnight Lovely Little Lady," "May I?" "She Reminds Me of You," "Once in a Blue Moon" and "Ridin Around in the Rain." PLOT: Rich-girl Lombard falls in love with a singing, overweight sailor (Crosby) after they are ship-wrecked on an island inhabited only by visiting naturalists (Burns and Allen). Bing is zookeeper to Lombard's pet bear, Droopy, who is also one of Crosby's harshest music critics. Droopy swoons at only one Crosby croon, "Goodnight Lovely Little Lady." All other Crosby warbles evoke the animal's wrath. Of course, Bing wins the girl in the end, elbowing aside Droopy and Ray Milland, but in real life Lombard was hot for Bing's chief crooning rival, Russ Columbo. Columbo died of a bullet wound to the head in September before the affair could be legally consummated. There was no evidence Bing hired the hit man, but he did attend the funeral. Bing wears a sailor's cap instead of a scalp doily throughout most of the film. Bing gets top billing. Ray Milland gets no billing and no Lombard. Milland got his revenge in 1946 when he wrestled the 1945 Oscar for best actor from Father O'Malley. Discussion.

1 9 3 5

MISSISSIPPI (Paramount, director Edward Sutherland, 75 minutes, b&w)
CAST: Bing Crosby (Tom Grayson), W.C. Fields, Joan Bennett, Gail Patrick, Queenie Smith. SONGS: "Down by the River" "Soon," "Easy to Remember" PLOT: Bing is forced to leave home after he refuses to fight a duel over his fiancee. He is hired by Fields to sing aboard a riverboat, but Fields soon bills him as "the Singing Killer." One of Bing's best films of the 1930s.

TWO FOR TONIGHT (Paramount, director Frank Tuttle, 61 minutes, b&w)
CAST: Bing Crosby (Gilbert Gordon), Joan Bennett, Mary Boland, Lynne Overman, Thelma Todd, James Blakely. SONGS: "Two for Tonight," "I Wish I Were Aladdin," "Without a Word of Warning," "Takes Two to Make a Bargain" and "From the Top of Your Head to the Tip of Your Toes."PLOT: Slapstick comedy in which songwriter Crosby is forced to write a musical play in a week. Boland plays his ma, Bennett plays his gal.

STAR NIGHT AT THE COCOANUT GROVE
(MGM, 20 minutes, COLOR)
CAMEO: Bing banters lightly with Mary Pickford and then sings "With Every Breath I Take."

THE BIG BROADCAST OF 1936 (Paramount, 97 minutes, b&w)
CAMEO: Bing appears briefly to sing "I Wished on the Moon."

1 9 3 6

ANYTHING GOES (Paramount, director Lewis Milestone, 92 minutes, b&w)
CAST: Bing Crosby (Billy Crocker), Ethel Merman, Charles Ruggles, Ida Lupino, Arthur Treacher, Margaret Dumont, Edward Gargan, Chill Wills. SONGS: "You're the Top," "My Heart and I," "Sailor Beware," "Moonburn" and "There'll Always be a Lady Fair." Merman sings "Anything Goes" and "I Get a Kick out of You." PLOT: Pleasant Crosby shipboard musical retains Merman from the Broadway show, but scuttles much of the plot and four of the Cole Porter songs. Remade by Bing in 1956.

PENNIES FROM HEAVEN (Columbia, director Norman McLeod, 81 minutes, b&w)
CAST: Bing Crosby (Larry), Madge Evans, Edith Fellows, Donald Meek, John Gallaudet, Louis Armstrong. SONGS: "Let's Call a Heart a Heart," "Old MacDonald," "Pennies from Heaven," "Now I've Got Some Dreaming to Do," "One Two Button Your Shoe," "What This Country Needs" and "So Do I." Armstrong plays "Skeleton in Your Closet." PLOT: Paramount permitted Bing to leave the Snow-Topped Mountain occasionally to star in outside productions, including this one, which he helped finance for half the profits. Crosby plays a drifting troubadour who befriends an orphaned girl (Fellows) and her grandfather (Meek). Bing used his influence to get Louis Armstrong into the film and to give him star billing, the first for a black actor in a major motion picture. The film was Bing's first opportunity to work with John Scott Trotter, who helped arrange the music.

RHYTHM ON THE RANGE (Paramount, director Norman Taurog, 85 minutes, b&w)
CAST: Bing Crosby (Jeff Larabee), Frances Farmer, Bob Burns, Martha Raye, James Burke, Dennis O'Keefe, Louis Prima, Sons of the Pioneers (with Roy Rogers). SONGS: "Empty Saddles," "I Can't Escape from You," "Roundup Lullaby," "Rhythm on the Range," "Drink it Down," "The House that Jack Built for Jill" and "I'm an Old Cowhand." Martha Raye sings "Mr. Paganini" and "If You Can't Sing it You'll Have to Swing It." PLOT: If you've seen Jessica Lange in Frances as the troubled Frances Farmer, you may not expect to see the real Farmer in a Depression cowpoke comedy with Bing Crosby. But then, the hit-and-miss Range offers another bizarre surprise: The stars' climactic I'm an Old Cowhand (From the Rio Grande) with the decade's most surreal musical backup. There's Martha Raye (her screen debut) and comic Bob Burns playing "the bazooka," an odd musical instrument he invented. Plus a pair of ringers for all eternity: Louis Prima and a then-unknown Roy Rogers. Paramount loosely remade this 20 years later as Pardners with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis - a rendering so loose, one can only speculate it's Lewis playing the Farmer part. (Mike Clark)

1 9 3 7 BING'S BOX-OFFICE RANKING: #4

DOUBLE OR NOTHING (Paramount, director Theodore Reed, 95 minutes, b&w)
CAST: Bing Crosby (Lefty Boylan), Martha Raye, Andy Devine, Mary Carlisle, William Frawley, Fay Holden, Frances Faye, Harry Barris. SONGS: "Smarty," "After You," "It's the Natural Thing to Do," "The Moon Got in My Eyes" and "All You Want to do is Dance." PLOT: Bing plays a destitute crooner who competes with three others for a millionaire's inheritance in a contest to see who can legally double $5,000 in a month. Bing's former Rhythm Boy, Harry Barris, gets a gig in the role of bandleader.

WAIKIKI WEDDING (Paramount, director Frank Tuttle, 89 minutes, b&w)
CAST: Bing Crosby (Tony Marvin), Bob Burns, Martha Raye, Shirley Ross, George Barbier, Leif Erikson, Anthony Quinn. SONGS: "Blue Hawaii," "Sweet is the Word for You," "Nani Ona Pua," "In a Little Hula Heaven" and "Sweet Leilani." PLOT: Hawaiian-themed romantic musical filmed in Hollywood about a public relations man for a pineapple company and his pig-loving sidekick (Burns) who finds himself in hot pineapple juice when the winner (Ross) of a beauty contest he cooked up says Hawaii is boring. The rest of the movie is an attempt by Bing to convince her otherwise while her fiance (Erikson) tries to woo her back to the mainland. During the filming of a fight scene Bing failed to pull his punch and KO'd Anthony Quinn. Robin and Rainger wrote all the songs for the movie except "Sweet Leilani," which Bing discovered while vacationing in Hawaii in 1936 and insisted be included in the film. "Sweet Leilani" became Bing's first million-selling single and won the Oscar for best movie song of the year. The film's many costumed dance scenes and lavish scenery would have been greatly enhanced by color. Although the film was loaded with beach and boat scenes and scantily-clad natives, Bing always appeared fully clothed, obscuring his conspicuous girth.

1 9 3 8

DR. RHYTHM (Paramount, director Frank Tuttle, 80 minutes, b&w)
CAST: Bing Crosby (Dr. Bill Remsen), Mary Carlisle, Beatrice Lillie, Andy Devine, John Hamilton, Sterling Holloway, Franklin Pangborn, William Austin, Louis Armstrong, Bob Hope. SONGS: "Doctor Rhythm," "Public School #43," "On the Sentimental Side," "This is My Night to Dream," "Only a Gypsie Knows," "The Trumpeter's Lament" and "My Heart is Taking Lessons." PLOT: Bing fills in for an ill friend who is guarding a wealthy socialite who is being stalked by a gambler. Bob Hope appears with Bing for the first time in a movie as a result of losing a golf match to Bing during the film's production.

SING YOU SINNERS (Paramount, director Wesley Ruggles, 88 minutes, b&w)
CAST: Bing Crosby (Joe Beebe), Fred MacMurray, Ellen Drew, Donald O'Connor, Elizabeth Patterson, John Gallaudet, Harry Barris. SONGS: "Don't Let that Moon Get Away," "I've Got a Pocketful of Dreams," "Shall We Gather at the River," "Laugh and Call It Love" and "Small Fry." PLOT: Bing's image shifted in this film from romantic crooner to hustler and gambler. He swaps for a horse, Uncle Gus, that he plans to use to win a big race. To support the horse Bing and his brothers (MacMurray and O'Connor) are forced to take a job as singers in a night club. Unlike in real life, Bing's horse wins the race and all live happily ever after. The movie was filmed in part at Bing's Del Mar race track, which opened in 1937.

1 9 3 9

EAST SIDE OF HEAVEN (Universal, director David Butler, 85 minutes, b&w)
CAST: Bing Crosby (Denny Martin), Joan Blondell, Mischa Auer, Irene Hervey, C. Aubrey Smith, Jerome Cowan, Lee Henville (the baby), the Music Maids. SONGS: "Rings on my Finger," "Ida," "East Side of Heaven," "Sing a Song of Sunbeams," "That Sly Old Gentleman" and "Hang Your Heart on a Hickory Limb." PLOT: Once again Bing takes a leave of absence from Paramount to finance and star in an outside flick. Bing plays a singing messenger and cab driver who discovers an abandoned baby that he brings home to his roommate and fiancee. This movie is not recommended for those who hate crooners and babies.

PARIS HONEYMOON (Paramount, director Frank Tuttle, 83 minutes, b&w)
CAST: Bing Crosby (Lucky Lawton), Shirley Ross, Edward Everett Horton, Franciska Gaal, Akim Tamiroff, Ben Blue, Gregory Gaye and assorted peasants. SONGS: "Funny Old Hills," "Sweet little Headache," "I Ain't Got Nobody," "The Maiden by the Brook," "I Have Eyes" and "Joobalai." PLOT: Crosby hustles his fiancee to France to hasten her divorce. He moves on to a mythical country in the Balkans to inspect their honeymoon castle, where he meets another girl who he first tries to vanish but later decides to marry.

THE STAR MAKER (Paramount, director Roy Del Ruth, 94 minutes, b&w)
CAST: Bing Crosby (Larry Earl), Linda Ware, Louise Campbell, Ned Sparks, John Gallaudet, Richard Denning, Walter Damrosch and the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. SONGS: "An Apple for the Teacher," "Go Fly a Kite," "A Man and His Dreams," "Still the Bluebird Sings," "If I Were a Millionaire" and "I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now." PLOT: A loose biography of showman Gus Edwards. Crosby plays an unsuccessful singer-songwriter who gives up his entertainment career to marry his fiancee. Soon the spotlight beckons him back into show business, where he forms a vaudeville ensemble comprised of children (who in real life included George Jessel, Eddie Cantor, Ray Bolger, Groucho Marx and Walter Winchell).

1 9 4 0 BING'S BOX-OFFICE RANKING: #7

IF I HAD MY WAY (Universal, director David Butler, 93 minutes, b&w)
CAST: Bing Crosby (Buzz Blackwell), Charles Winninger, Gloria Jean (the child), El Brendel, Allyn Joslyn, Claire Dodd, Eddie Leonard, Six Hits and a Miss. SONGS: "Meet the Sun Half Way," "I Haven't Time to be a Millionaire," "Pessimistic Character," "April Played the Fiddle" and "If I Had My Way." PLOT: Crosby slipped off the rock to Universal and the result was a disappointment. Bing plays a crooning steelworker who cares for 12-year-old Gloria when her dad dies. Bing takes the girl to New York where her vaudevillian great uncle agrees to take her in.

RHYTHM ON THE RIVER (Paramount, director Victor Schertzinger, 92 minutes, b&w)
CAST: Bing Crosby (Bob Summers), Mary Martin, Basil Rathbone, Oscar Levant, Oscar Shaw, William Frawley, John Scott Trotter, Ken Carpenter, Harry Barris, Wingy Manone. SONGS: "Only Forever," "Rhythm on the River," "When the Moon Comes Over Madison Square," "That's for Me," "What Would Shakespeare Have Said?" and "Goodbye to Love." PLOT: Crosby and Martin ghostwrite songs for the talentless Rathbone. They decide to strike out on their own, and earn a hit with "Only Forever," which in real life was nominated for an Academy Award. One of Bing's best movies, and the movie debut of John Scott Trotter. During the movie Bing is writing a song he calls "Goodbye to Love." In the movie he never finishes the song, but 30 years later Richard Carpenter saw the movie, loved the song title, and wrote the song, which became a hit for him and his sister in 1972.

ROAD TO SINGAPORE (Paramount, director Victor Schertzinger, 84 minutes, b&w)
CAST: Bing Crosby (Josh Mallon), Dorothy Lamour, Bob Hope (Ace Lannigan), Charles Coburn, Judith Barrett, Anthony Quinn, Jerry Colonna, Ed Gargan, Kitty Kelly. SONGS: "Captain Custard," "The Moon and the Willow Tree," "An Apple for the Teacher," "Sweet Potato Piper" and "Too Romantic." PLOT: To escape their girlfriends and familial business obligations Bing and Bob run away to the South Seas where they meet Dorothy wrapped in a sarong. They invite her to move in with them and then compete for her affections. At the time Dorothy was as big a box office star as Bing and Bob. She later wrote that her first day on the set convinced her that she had wasted her time memorizing her script. The Road to Singapore was a box-office hit and turned out to be the first in a series of seven road pictures, all box-office smashes. Singapore is usually ranked near the bottom of the series.

1 9 4 1

ROAD TO ZANZIBAR (Paramount, director Victor Schertzinger, 89 minutes, b&w)
CAST: Bing Crosby (Chuck Reardon), Dorothy Lamour, Bob Hope (Fearless Frazier), Una Merkel, Joan Marsh, Eric Blore, Iris Adrian, Ethel Greer, Leo Gorcey, Ken Carpenter. SONGS: "It's Always You," "You Lucky People You," and "African Etude." Lamour sings "Your Dangerous" and Hope 'sings' "Home Sweet Home." PLOT: Bing and Bob are two carnies who sell a phony diamond mine to a mobster, and then flee to Africa, where they join forces with Lamour and Merkel.

BIRTH OF THE BLUES (Paramount, director Victor Schertzinger, 85 minutes, b&w)
CAST: Bing Crosby (Jeff Lambert), Mary Martin, Brian Donlevy, Eddie "Rochester" Anderson, Jack Teagarden, Harry Barris, Perry Botkin, John Gallaudet, Ruby Elzy, the Hall-Johnson Negro Choir. SONGS: "The Waiter, the Porter and the Upstairs Maid," "Birth of the Blues," "Memphis Blues," "St. James Infirmary," "Melancholy Baby," "St. Louis Blues" and "Wait Till the Sun Shines Nellie." PLOT: Bing is raised to to play the classical clarinet, but finds more fulfillment hanging out with the local black musicians. He grows up, starts his own band, and tries to bring jazz to the white community and, initially, encounters much prejudice. One of Bing's best musicals. The director, Schertzinger, died shortly before the premier of the movie. Bing sings White Xmas

1 9 4 2

HOLIDAY INN (Paramount, director Mark Sandrich, 101 minutes, b&w)
CAST: Bing Crosby (Jim Hardy), Fred Astaire, Marjorie Reynolds, Virginia Dale, Louise Beavers, Irving Bacon, John Gallaudet, Harry Barris, Kitty Kelly, Edward Arnold, Bob Crosby's Bob Cats. SONGS: "I'll Capture Your Heart Singing," "Lazy," "You're Easy to Dance With," "White Christmas," "Happy Holiday," "Let's Start the New Year Right," "Abraham," "Be Careful It's My Heart," "Washington's Birthday Minuet," "Easter Parade," "Song of Freedom" and "I've Got Plenty to be Thankful For." PLOT: Entertaining musical built on paper-thin plot about a romantic triangle and the establishment of a country inn that's open only on holidays. That's the cue for a volley of Irving Berlin holiday songs that includes even Washington's Birthday. Highlights include Astaire's dance to "Say It with Firecrackers" that required 30 takes and cost Fred 14 pounds, and Bing's crooning of White Christmas, which won the Oscar for best song of 1942. The movie includes a scene that is often edited out of screenings on commercial television. In the scene Bing notices his rival for Marjorie Reynolds' affection, Fred Astaire, in the audience, and hurriedly cooks up a scheme to disguise her by doing their musical tribute to Lincoln's birthday in blackface.

MY FAVORITE BLONDE (Paramount, 78 minutes, b&w)
CAMEO: Bing's first guest appearance in a Bob Hope movie. He directs Bob to a Teamsters' picnic. One of Bob's best movies.

ROAD TO MOROCCO (Paramount, director David Butler, 83 minutes, b&w)
CAST: Bing Crosby (Jeffrey Peters), Bob Hope (Turkey Jackson), Dorothy Lamour, Anthony Quinn, Dona Drake, Yvonne de Carlo. SONGS: "Road to Morocco," "Ain't Got a Dime to My Name," "Constantly," "Moonlight Becomes You." PLOT: Not that it matters, but Bing sells Bob to a slave trader, and in guilt goes looking for him, finding Lamour along the way. Morocco includes the classic spontaneous scene where an ad-libbing camel spits in Hope's face, and Crosby congratulates the beast for its good taste. The best of the first three Road flicks, this one was nominated for two Oscars (best screenplay and best sound recording). Lamour's value had depreciated since Zanzibar as she slid to third billing behind Hope.

STAR SPANGLED RHYTHM (Paramount, 99 minutes, b&w)
CAMEO: Star-studded Paramount variety show a la The Big Broadcast series is woven around a plot to deceive the sailing son (Eddie Bracken) of a studio guard (Victor Moore) that his dad is the boss of the studio. Bing shows up to sing the grand finale, "Old Glory," against a Mount Rushmore backdrop. Gary Crosby makes his screen debut.

1 9 4 3 BING'S BOX-OFFICE RANKING: #4

DIXIE (Paramount, director A. Edward Sutherland, 89 minutes, COLOR)
CAST: Bing Crosby (Dan Emmitt), Dorothy Lamour, Marjorie Reynolds, Billy DeWolfe, Lynne Overman, Eddie Foy Jr., Brandon Hurst, Harry Barris. SONGS: "Sunday, Monday or Always," "Swing Low Sweet Chariot," "She's From Missouri," "A Horse that Knows the Way Back Home," "If You Please," "Dixie," "Kinda Peculiar Brown" and "The Last Rose of Summer." PLOT: Bing's first starring role in a full color film has him playing the 19th century songwriter and minstrel Dan Emmitt, author of "Dixie." The storyline tries to follow the evolution of "Dixie" into a rallying song for the South. The cinematography and costumes are first-rate.

1 9 4 4 BING'S BOX-OFFICE RANKING: #1

GOING MY WAY (Paramount, director Leo McCarey, 126 minutes, b&w)
CAST: Bing Crosby (Father Chuck O'Malley), Rise Stevens, Barry Fitzgerald, Gene Lockhart, Frank McHugh, Jean Heather, James Brown and the Robert Mitchell Boys Choir. SONGS: "Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ra," "Day After Forever," "Going My Way," "Ave Maria" and "Swinging on a Star." PLOT: The innumerable problems of a failing New York City parish -- run by a crusty, lovable, failing old priest (Barry Fitzgerald) -- are quietly solved by the affable, unflappable young Father O'Malley (Bing Crosby), who tickles the keys and croons a tune on the side. A great comedy: unhurried, warm, quietly spontaneous, marvelously acted, full of what Truffaut calls "privileged moments." The film was nominated for 9 Oscars and won 7. Both Crosby and Fitzgerald were nominated for best actor, but Fitzgerald was also nominated for best supporting actor. Bing won for best actor and Barry for best supporting actor. The film won for best picture and best song ("Swinging on a Star"). "Going My Way" elevated Crosby to top box-office attraction among motion picture stars, where he stayed for a record 5 years. Jean Heather, who played a teenage runaway in "Going My Way," also appeared in "Double Indemnity," which was also nominated for the Academy Award for best picture of 1944.

HERE COME THE WAVES (Paramount, director Mark Sandrich, 99 minutes, b&w)
CAST: Bing Crosby (Johnny Cabot), Betty Hutton, Sonny Tufts, Ann Doran, Gwen Crawford, Noel Neill, Harry Barris, Mona Freeman, Yvonne De Carlo. SONGS: "Join the Navy," "That Ol' Black Magic," "Moonlight Becomes You," "Blow Boys Blow," "Let's Take the Long Way Home," "Accentuate the Positive," "There's a Fella Waiting in Poughkeepsie," "I Promise You" and "Here Comes the Waves." PLOT: Zippy wartime Sinatra parody with Crosby cast as the idol of bobby-soxers, who joins the navy, and becomes involved with twin sisters played by Betty Hutton. The Crooner-turned-Swooner warbles the Sinatra hit "That Ol' Black Magic," dressed in a white double-breasted suit with black bow tie, leaning on a microphone with both hands on the post while the girls in the audience swoon.

THE PRINCESS AND THE PIRATE (RKO, 92 minutes, COLOR)
CAMEO: Bing drops in on this Bob Hope picture just in time to steal the girl, Virginia Mayo.

1 9 4 5 BING'S BOX-OFFICE RANKING: #1

OUT OF THIS WORLD (Paramount, 96 minutes, b&w)
CAMEO: In yet another parody of Sinatra, Bing provides the vocal backing to Eddie Bracken, who plays a singing messenger who becomes a radio swooning sensation. All four of Bing's boys make an appearance in the movie as members of the audience who find fault with the singing. Bing sings "Out of This World," "I'd Rather Be Me" and "June Comes Around Every Year."
STATE FAIR (20th Century Fox, 100 minutes, b&w)
CAMEO: Bing is heard but not seen singing a bit of "It Might as well be Spring," which he recorded for the movie.
DUFFY'S TAVERN (Paramount, 97 minutes, b&w)
CAMEO: Robert Benchley tells the four Crosby boys about the rags-to-riches life of their pop, Der Bingle. Bing plays his fictitious self, and then leads a chorus of Paramount stars in an offbeat rendition of "Swinging on a Star."

THE BELLS OF ST. MARY'S (RKO, director Leo McCarey, 126 minutes, b&w)
CAST: Bing Crosby (Father Chuck O'Malley), Ingrid Bergman, Henry Travers, William Gargan, Ruth Donnelly, Joan Carroll, Martha Sleeper. SONGS: "Aren't You Glad You're You," "Adeste Fideles," "In the Land of Beginning Again," "O Sanctissima" and "The Bells of St. Mary's." PLOT: The buildings have run down from lack of repair. The playground was sold to a large corporation. Now the entire school may be condemned to make way for a parking lot. St. Mary's is in need of a miracle...and they get one in the form of Bing Crosby, the new pastor. Easy-going and good-natured, Crosby has his own ideas about raising children and running a school. He is immediately set at odds with Ingrid Bergman, the no-nonsense Mother Superior who has been running St. Mary's with a iron hand. Crosby wages a good-natured battle of wits with Bergman as they try to make some heavenly order of the existing chaos and save St. Mary's before it closes its doors forever. This sequel to Going My Way was made by RKO, not Paramount, as part of the agreement to let Leo McCarey, an RKO director, work on Going My Way. The Bells of St. Mary's was nominated for a whopping 8 Oscars, including Best Song ("Aren't You Glad You're You") and Best Actor (Bing Crosby), but won only for Best Sound Recording.

1 9 4 6 BING'S BOX-OFFICE RANKING: #1

ROAD TO UTOPIA (Paramount, director Hal Walker, 90 minutes, b&w)
CAST: Bing Crosby (Duke Johnson), Bob Hope (Chester Hooton), Dorothy Lamour, Hillary Brooke, Douglas Dumbrille, Jack LaRue, Robert Benchley, Jim Thorpe. SONGS: "Sunday Monday or Always," "Goodtime Charlie," "It's Anybody's Spring," "Personality," "Welcome to My Dream," "Put It There Pal" and "Would You?" PLOT: A new team of screenwriters took over for this fourth jaunt down the road, and the results are rated by many as the best of the Road films. This fourth in the series takes the dysfunctional duo to Alaska in the search for gold. During the filming Bob fell on top of Bing and injured Bing's back, and a bear bruised Bob's arm. A highlight of the movie is when Bing and Bob enter a bar full of ruffians and Bob orders a lemonade. Bing nudges him and Bob growls "In a dirty glass!" Robert Benchley, the film's narrator, died before its release. Filming on Utopia began in 1943, but the film was not released until January '46 in order not to conflict with the sale of Bing's image as Father O'Malley.

BLUE SKIES (Paramount, director Stuart Heisler, 104 minutes, COLOR)
CAST: Bing Crosby (Johnny Adams), Fred Astaire, Joan Caulfield, Billy DeWolfe, Olga San Juan, John Gallaudet. SONGS: "A Pretty Girl is Like a Melody," "I've Got My Captain Working for Me Now," "All By Myself," "Serenade to an Old-Fashioned Girl," "Puttin' on the Ritz," "I'll See You in C-U-B-A," "A Couple of Song and Dance Men," "You Keep Coming Back Like a Song," "Always," "Blue Skies," "How Deep is the Ocean," "Getting Nowhere," "Heat Wave," "Any Bonds Today," "This is the Army Mr. Jones" and "White Christmas." PLOT: Blue Skies did not start out as a Crosby-Astaire reunion. Originally, Paul Draper was assigned to choreograph the movie and play the dancing lead. Joan Caulfield, with only one previous movie to her credit, was signed to play the female dancing lead after she promised the director that she could dance. When Joan's two beautiful left feet were exposed, Draper tried to get her replaced. Bing, who was smitten by Joan, intervened and got Draper fired. Enter Fred Astaire and a new script. Blue Skies was a lavish musical that featured a whopping 20 Irving Berlin songs, four new and the rest reconditioned. Bing and Fred portray former show-biz partners and rivals for the attention of the gorgeous Caulfield. Joan chooses Bing and they marry, despite Bing's warnings that he is a wanderer. Soon Joan discovers her mistake and sends Bing packing. She returns to Fred, they become engaged, but only until Bing realizes how much Joan meant to him and steals her away again. Fred turns to booze and has an accident that ruins his dancing career. Virtually the entire story is told in flashback by Astaire.

1 9 4 7 BING'S BOX-OFFICE RANKING: #1

MY FAVORITE BRUNETTE (Paramount, 87 minutes, b&w)
CAMEO: Bing appears at the end of this Bob Hope, Dorothy Lamour movie as the executioner who gets to gas Old Ski Nose. At the last minute Bing's hopes are crushed when the governor issues a reprieve. Bing's price tag for his 30-second appearance was a $25,000 donation by Bob to Gonzaga University.

ROAD TO RIO (Paramount, director Norman McLeod, 100 minutes, b&w)
CAST: Bing Crosby (Scat Sweeney), Bob Hope (Hot Lips Barton), Dorothy Lamour, Gale Sondergaard, Frank Faylen, Stone-Barton Puppeteers, Carioca Boys, Weire Brothers, Andrews Sisters, Jerry Colonna. SONGS: "Apalachicola F-L-A," "But Beautiful" "For What?" "Experience" and "You Don't Have to Know the Language." PLOT: The fifth trip down the road for the Paramount con-men is also the longest Road picture. Rio is more subdued than Utopia, but nevertheless sustains the level of excellence achieved in the previous two Road films. Bob and Bing play musicians trying to wrest Dorothy from the hypnotic spell of her sinister aunt. This was the first Road flic in which Bing, Bob and Paramount shared the profits. Dorothy was salaried. "Road to Rio" was to the top-grossing flick of 1948.

VARIETY GIRL (Paramount, 93 minutes, COLOR)
CAMEO: Paramount puts its stars on parade in another extravaganza akin to the "Big Broadcast" series of the 1930s. Bing and Bob make appearances in a golf sketch and at a benefit performance, where Bing sings "Harmony."

WELCOME STRANGER (Paramount, director Elliott Nugent, 106 minutes, b&w)
Joan Caulfield with BingCAST: Bing Crosby (Jim Pearson), Joan Caulfield, Barry Fitzgerald, Frank Faylen, Robert Shayne, Percy Kilbride, Charles Dingle, Wanda Hendrix. SONGS: "Smile Right Back at the Sun," "My Heart is a Hobo," "Country Style" and "As Long as I'm Dreaming." PLOT: A remake to Going My Way with Crosby and Fitzgerald playing physicians instead of priests. Bing arrives in a small Maine town to sub for its cranky old doctor, played by Fitzgerald, who plans a two-month vacation. Bing's nonchalance irks Fitzgerald, who has second thoughts about turning his town over to Crosby. Meanwhile, Bing is smitten with a local school teacher, played by Bing's real-life girlfriend, Caulfield, but she is already engaged to the stuffy druggist Shayne, whose disposition could've benefitted from an Rx for Valium. As Shayne loses his cool Bing keeps his. His crooning and public spiritedness (he calls the local square dance, opposes childhood cigar smoking, gifts liquor to the town drunk and offers to take the temperature of stuffy townfolk "on the house") eventually win the affections of Caulfield and Fitzgerald. If you're keeping score, Bing played a doctor again in his final two movies, Stagecoach and Dr. Cook's Garden, Elvis played one in Change of Habit, Sinatra played one in Not as a Stranger, and Dean Martin played a tv doctor in Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed?. Unlike "Going My Way," "Welcome Stranger" didn't win any awards, but is still a highly entertaining Crosby film.

1 9 4 8 BING'S BOX-OFFICE RANKING: #1

THE EMPEROR WALTZ (Paramount, director Billy Wilder, 105 minutes, COLOR)
Bing on the lavish setCAST: Bing Crosby (Virgil Smith), Joan Fontaine, Roland Culver, Lucille Watson, Jack Gargan, Buttons (the dog). SONGS: "The Whistler and His Dog," "I Kiss Your Hand Madame," "Friendly Mountains," "Santa Lucia," "The Kiss in Your Eyes" and "The Emperor Waltz." PLOT: This musical-comedy is quite an oddity in the career of Billy Wilder, who otherwise directed serious films like The Lost Weekend and Double Indemnity. The lavish sets and photography are the highlights of this otherwise mediocre Crosby musical. Bing plays a phonograph salesman to the royalty of Franz Joseph's Austria. Locations scenes were filmed in the Canadian Rockies of Jasper National Park.

1 9 4 9 BING'S BOX-OFFICE RANKING: #2

THE ADVENTURES OF ICHABOD AND MR. TOAD
(Walt Disney-RKO, two-part animation, 68 minutes, COLOR)
CAST: Bing Crosby, Basil Rathbone, Eric Blore, Pat O'Malley. SONGS: "Who's that Coming Down the Street?" "Katrina" and "The Headless Horseman." PLOT: A two-part animation in which Bing does all the voices and sings in The Adventures of Ichabod, which is based on Washington Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. The scary ending may make it unsuitable for young children.

A CONNECTICUT YANKEE IN KING ARTHUR'S COURT
(Paramount, director Tay Garnett, 106 minutes, COLOR)
CAST: Bing Crosby (Hank Martin), Rhonda Fleming, Sir Cedric Hardwicke, William Bendix, Richard Webb. SONGS: "If You Stub Your Toe on the Moon," "When Is Sometime?" "Busy Doing Nothing" and "Once and For Always." PLOT: The Mark Twain fantasy is transformed into an entertaining Crosby musical-comedy. The story begins in 1912 with Crosby playing an American blacksmith and auto mechanic who, after an accident, wakes up in 6th Century England in the Court of King Arthur, where he falls in love with the King's niece, who has already been committed to Sir Lancelot. Bing uses his 20th century know-how to escape from some tight situations.

TOP O' THE MORNING (Paramount, director David Miller, 99 minutes, b&w)
CAST: Bing Crosby (Joe Mulqueen), Ann Blyth, Barry Fitzgerald, Hume Cronyn, John McIntire. SONGS: "You're in Love with Someone," "Top o' the Morning," "Oh 'Tis Sweet to Think," "Beautiful Kitty," "The Donovans" and "When Irish Eyes are Smiling." PLOT: Bing plays an investigator for an insurance company who travels to Ireland in search of the stolen Blarney Stone. There he falls in love with the superstitious daughter (Blyth) of the local constable (Fitzgerald). This was the third and final pairing of Fitzgerald with Bing, and the least of their efforts. The movie should have been filmed in color.

1 9 5 0 BING'S BOX-OFFICE RANKING: #3

MR. MUSIC (Paramount, director Richard Haydn, 113 minutes, b&w)
CAST: Bing Crosby (Paul Merrick), Nancy Olson, Charles Coburn, Ruth Hussey, Peggy Lee, Groucho Marx, Robert Stack, Dorothy Kirsten, the Merry Macs. SONGS: "One More for the Blue and White," "Milady," "And You'll Be Home," "High on the List," "Wouldn't It Be Funny?" "Accidents Will Happen," "Was I There?" "Life is So Peculiar" and "Mr. Music." PLOT: Bing plays a songwriter-turned-golfer who returns to his alma mater to watch a revival of one of his musicals. There he is persuaded to write a new musical to be called "Mr. Music." The college offers to stage the musical so that Bing can get financial help. Meanwhile, Groucho and Peggy Lee offer their services at a benefit for the new musical.

RIDING HIGH (Paramount, director Frank Capra, 112 minutes, b&w)
CAST: Bing Crosby (Dan Brooks), Colleen Gray, Charles Bickford, Frances Gifford, Clarence Muse, William Demarest, Ward Bond, Percy Kilbride, Margaret Hamilton, Paul Harvey, Gene Lockhart, Joe Frisco, Oliver Hardy, Leo "Ukie" Sherin, Harry Davenport (his final film). SONGS: "Sure Thing," "Someplace on Anywhere Road," "Whiffenpoof Song," "Sunshine Cake" and "The Horse Told Me." PLOT: Riding High is a remake of an earlier Capra film called Broadway Bill from 1934. Capra was disappointed by the earlier film, and wanted to remake it with a horse enthusiast in the lead, namely, Bing. Some scenes in Riding High were taken from the original negative of Broadway Bill. In the movie Bing falls in love with a racehorse, Broadway Bill, and gives up a lucrative career in his fiancee's family business to gamble on its racing success. The scenes where Bing performs "Sunshine Cake" and "The Horse Told Me" were recorded live. Horseracing fans loved the movie, most critics were lukewarm. The New York Times' Bosley Crowther was a major exception, gushing "The final word goes to 'Der Bingle,' whose lovable way with a horse —- as well as with music and people -— gives that quality of richness to this film that makes it not only amusing but deeply ingratiating, too." The cameo role of Oliver Hardy, of Laurel and Hardy fame, was his last film appearance.

1 9 5 1 BING'S BOX-OFFICE RANKING: #5

HERE COMES THE GROOM (Paramount, director Frank Capra, 113 minutes, b&w)
CAST: Bing Crosby (Pete Garvey), Jane Wyman, Alexis Smith, Franchot Tone, James Barton, Alan Reed, Irving Bacon, Anna Maria Alberghetti, Ellen Corby, Dorothy Lamour, Frank Fontaine, Louis Armstrong, Phil Harris, Cass Daley. SONGS: "Bonne nuit," In the Cool Cool Cool of the Evening," "Your Own Little House," "Misto Cristofo Columbo." PLOT: Frank Capra, who considered Bing one of the ten best movie actors of his era, directed his second and final Crosby flick. Here Bing plays a newspaperman who returns to the United States from Paris after World War II with two war orphans, whom he can adopt if he can get married in five days. He has a girl in mind, his ex-fiancee Jane Wyman, but she is preparing to marry another man. It's time to turn on the Crosby charm. Two great musical scenes are a star-studded performance of "Cristofo Columbo" on an airplane and a duet with Wyman of "In the Cool Cool Cool of the Evening" in an elevator. The song won an Academy Award.

ANGELS IN THE OUTFIELD (MGM, 99 minutes, b&w)
CAMEO: Bing, part-owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates, sinks a miracle putt and proclaims himself a believer in angels.

1 9 5 2 BING'S BOX-OFFICE RANKING: #4

THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH (Paramount, 153 minutes, COLOR)
CAMEO: This Cecil B. DeMille movie about a circus won the Oscar for Best Picture. In the circus bleachers are many Paramount celebrities, including Bing and Bob eating peanuts.

JUST FOR YOU (Paramount, director Elliott Nugent, 95 minutes, COLOR)
CAST: Bing Crosby (Jordan Blake), Jane Wyman, Ethel Barrymore, Robert Arthur, Natalie Wood, Cora Witherspoon, Ben Lessy. SONGS: "I'll Si-Si Ya in Bahia," "Call Me Tonight," "Zing a Little Zong," "Flight of Fancy," "The Live Oak Tree," "On the Ten-Ten from Ten-Ten-Tennessee," "Just for You" and "Ol' Spring Fever." PLOT: Bing feels remorse over neglecting his two children and decides to take them on an extended vacation. Relations become strained, and Bing's fiancee (Jane Wyman) is summoned to help. Soon Bing's son becomes smitten with Jane. The movie proved quite popular with the public and ranked among the top twenty box-office attractions of the year. "Zing a Little Zong" was nominated for an Academy Award.

SON OF PALEFACE (Paramount, 95 minutes, COLOR)
CAMEO: Bing appears briefly in the opening scenes of this Bob Hope movie in a scene extracted from Just for You.

1 9 5 3 BING'S BOX-OFFICE RANKING: #5

ROAD TO BALI (Paramount, director Hal Walker, 91 minutes, COLOR)
CAST: Bing Crosby (George Cochran), Bob Hope (Harold Gridley), Dorothy Lamour, Ralph Moody, Murvyn Vye, Peter Coe, Bob Crosby, Jane Russell, Humphrey Bogart, Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis. SONGS: "Road to Bali," "Chicago Style," "Whiffenpoof Song," "Hoot Mon," "To See You" and "The Merry-Go-Runaround." PLOT: Dorothy Lamour's film career seemed all but finished, her Paramount contract about to expire, when she got the call to return for one more fitting into a sarong -- her 'sarong song.' Bali was the sixth and final Road picture for Paramount and the only Road picture filmed in color. To avoid their shotgun weddings, Bing and Bob flee Australia and take a job diving for sunken treasures. There they meet up with Dorothy, whom they save from an evil prince and assorted jungle perils. Lots of guest cameos, including Jane Russell, whom Hope conjures up at the end of the movie to be his girl, only to find that Jane prefers Bing too! Bing and Bob and Paramount shared the profits from the film whereas Dorothy was paid a salary. When Dorothy demanded a third of the profits to record the soundtrack album, Bing and Bob got Peggy Lee to do the album instead.

LITTLE BOY LOST (Paramount, director George Seaton, 95 minutes, b&w)
CAST: Bing Crosby (Bill Wainwright), Claude Dauphin, Christian Fourcade, Nicole Maurey. SONGS: "Mon coeur est un violon, "A propos de rien," "If it's All the Same to You," "Surle pont d'Avignon, "Frere Jacques" and "The Magic Window." PLOT: Bing plays an American radio reporter married to a Parisian singer. They are separated by the War, during which time his wife is killed by the Nazis. After the War Bing returns to France to find their young son. The role marked Bing's first effort at serious drama, and the critics and the public responded well. Little Boy Lost was among the 20 leading box office attractions of the year. It is also my favorite Crosby drama. Much of the movie was filmed on location in France, where Bing learned that his wife in real life, Dixie Lee, was dying of ovarian cancer.

SCARED STIFF (Paramount, 106 minutes, b&w)
CAMEO: Bing and Bob make a brief appearance in this Martin and Lewis film no doubt to reciprocate Martin and Lewis' cameo in Road to Bali.

1 9 5 4 BING'S BOX-OFFICE RANKING: #8

WHITE CHRISTMAS (Paramount, director Michael Curtiz, 120 minutes, COLOR)
CAST: Bing Crosby (Bob Wallace), Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, Vera-Ellen, Dean Jagger, Mary Wickes. SONGS: "White Christmas," "The Old Man," "Heat Wave," "Let Me Sing and I'm Happy," "Blue Skies," "Sisters," "The Best Things Happen When You're Dancing," "Snow," "Count Your Blessings," "Love You Didn't Do Right By Me," "What Can You Do with a General?" and "Gee I Wish I Was Back in the Army." PLOT: The success of the song "White Christmas" from Holiday Inn resulted in a movie based on the song. White Christmas was the first new film score for Irving Berlin in almost a decade. It was Paramount's first film in a widescreen format called VistaVision, which was designed to lure Americans away from their televisions. This was also Bing's first film in which the audio was recorded in stereo -- 3-channel stereo -- for the few theaters capable was playing stereo soundtracks. In the film Crosby and Kaye play a song and dance team who follow the Haynes sisters (Clooney and Ellen) to Vermont where they are supposed to entertain at a ski lodge. Turns out the lodge is owned by their former Army general who is on the brink of financial ruin because there has been no snow. The boys plot to reunite the general's old army unit at the inn while they sing and dance for snow. Although Fred Astaire was originally scheduled to play Crosby's partner, Kaye proved to be more than adequate. Bing refused to dress as a woman for the parody of the Haynes sisters with Kaye, but did agree to roll up his pants. Kaye teased Bing during the filming of the scene, and Bing cracked up, which was left in the movie. White Christmas proved to be the box-office smash worthy of the song. It was the leading box-office attraction of 1954, and Bing's all-time box-office leader. Bing's romance with Kathryn Grant, a Paramount actress and his future wife, began during the filming of this movie.

THE COUNTRY GIRL (Paramount, director George Seaton, 104 minutes, b&w)
CAST: Bing Crosby (Frank Elgin), Grace Kelly, William Holden, Gene Reynolds, Ida Moore, Frank Scannell. SONGS: "It's Mine It's Yours," "The Search is Through," "The Land Around Us" and "Dissertation on a State of Bliss."PLOT: Crosby received his third Oscar nomination for best actor for his role as an alcoholic entertainer reduced to bit parts and self pity. His suffering wife, the glamorous Grace Kelly, was anything but glamorous in this movie. Bing initially opposed her selection as his wife because he felt she was too glamorous for the part. She walked away with the Oscar for best actress. Crosby's dramatic performance stunned the critics and his fans, who were accustomed to viewing Mr. Happy-Go-Lucky. The movie was remade in 1982 with Dick Van Dyke in Crosby's role and Faye Dunaway in Kelly's role.

1 9 5 6

ANYTHING GOES (Paramount, director Robert Lewis, 106 minutes, COLOR)
CAST: Bing Crosby (Bill Benson), Donald O'Connor, Jeanmaire, Mitzi Gaynor, Phil Harris. SONGS: "Ya Gotta Give the People Hoke," "Anything Goes," "I Get a Kick Out of You," "You're the Top" "All Through the Night," "A Second Hand Turban and a Crystal Ball" and "Blow Gabriel Blow" PLOT: Most critics evaluated this remake of Crosby's 1936 film as inferior to the original. The plot differed considerably from the the '36 movie. Crosby and O'Connor play show-business partners who head to Europe to find a leading lady for their upcoming show. They promise the lead to different women, and each fall in love with the other man's leading lady. They resolve their dilemma and keep the fire burning under their budding romances by rewriting the script for two leading ladies. Too bad they did not rewrite the script for the movie too. The movie did cause a stir because of the tight and skimpy outfits worn by the girls. This film marked the end of Bing's 25-year contractual relationship with Paramount.

HIGH SOCIETY (MGM, director Charles Walters, 107 minutes, COLOR)
CAST: Bing Crosby (C. K. Dexter-Haven), Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra. Celeste Holm, John Lund, Louis Armstrong. SONGS: "High Society Calypso," "Little One," "Who Wants to be a Millionaire," "True Love," "You're Sensational," "I Love You Samantha," "Now You Has Jazz," "Well Did You Evah!" and "Mind If I Make Love to You?" PLOT: High Society marked the first joint movie appearance of Frank and Bing. Bing plays Grace's ex-hubby and next-door neighbor who is sponsoring a jazz festival that features Louis Armstrong and his band. Grace is planning to remarry, but her family still prefers Bing to her stuffy new boyfriend. In the end Bing wins her back, thanks in part to his wedding gift -- a model of the boat on which they spent their honeymoon, The True Love. The movie was a box-office hit, and the soundtrack went gold. Bing's duet with Grace, True Love, became his last million-selling single. This was Bing's favorite movie, and Kelly's last before joining the ranks of royalty. The opulent engagement ring worn by Kelly in the movie was her actual engagement ring from Prince Ranier. High Society was the second and the last Crosby film to be shot in VistaVision.

HIGH TOR (CBS, director James Neilson, 90 minutes, b&w)
CAST: Bing Crosby (Van Van Dorn), Julie Andrews, Nancy Olson, Everett Sloane, Hans Conreid, Lloyd Corrigan, John Picaroll. SONGS: "Living One Day at a Time," "When You're in Love," "Sad is the Life of the Sailor's Wife," "A Little Love A Little While," "John Barleycorn" and "Once Upon a Long Ago." PLOT: Bing starred in the first filmed made-for-tv movie, High Tor, which was broadcast over CBS 11 March 1956. The movie was based on Maxwell Anderson's 1937 Broadway play with an added musical score. Crosby is torn between his love of his fiancee (Olson) and a mountain (High Tor), which he owns. His fiancee breaks their engagement when Bing refuses to sell the mountain to a pair of real estate swindlers. A landslide traps Bing and the realtors overnight on the mountain, which turns out to be haunted by a Dutch ghost sailor crew from he 1600s and a beautiful Dutch girl (Andrews), who encourages Bing to fight for the mountain. This was 23-year-old Julie Andrews' TV and movie debut. The soundtrack album marked the end of Bing's two-decade exclusive recording contract for Decca. "High Tor" was produced as a cooperative effort of CBS, Desilu Studios and Paramount Pictures at a cost of $450,000 -- the most expensive television production to date.

1 9 5 7

MAN ON FIRE (MGM, director Ranald MacDougall, 95 minutes, b&w)
CAST: Bing Crosby (Earl Carleton), Inger Stevens, Mary Pickett, E.G. Marshall, Malcolm Brodrick. SONGS: "Man on Fire" sung by Bing and later by the Ames Brothers. PLOT: Bing goes to court to keep total custody of his son, but after a bitter battle loses primary custody to his ex-wife, played by Mary Pickett, and her second husband, with whom she had had an affair while married to Bing. In a rage, Bing tries to kidnap his son and flee to Europe. They are stopped at the airport, where the boy is reluctantly taken from his dad. Later, Bing's ex-wife gives up the son, who steadfastly prefers his father. This sets the stage for the surprise ending. Bing's dramatic performance once again won him positive reviews. This was the first film in which Bing did not sing on camera, although his recording of the title song was played during the opening credits. This was also the film debut of 23-year-old Inger Stevens, who played Bing's new love interest, in real life as well.

1 9 5 9

ALIAS JESSE JAMES (United Artists, 92 minutes, COLOR)
CAMEO: Bing, along with Ward Bond, Gary Cooper and Roy Rogers, all get shots (literally) in this Bob Hope, Rhonda Fleming movie to save Bob from the bad guys.

SAY ONE FOR ME (20th Century Fox, director Frank Tashlin, 119 minutes, COLOR)
CAST: Bing Crosby (Father Conroy), Debbie Reynolds, Robert Wagner, Ray Walston, Frank McHugh, Joe Besser, Stella Stevens, Sebastian Cabot, Robert Montgomery Jr. SONGS: "Say One for Me," "You Can't Love 'Em All," "The Girl Most Likely to Succeed," "I Couldn't Care Less," "The Secret of Christmas" and "The Night That Rock 'n' Roll Died (Almost)." PLOT: Bing plays a preachy Broadway priest (Father Conroy) who gets mixed up with a chorus girl (Reynolds) and a TV variety show. Bing literally fell on his face on the first day of filming, but proceeded to ignore God's warning and made the film anyway, even financing it through the sale of his ranch. The results have been nominated by film critic Michael Medved for a Golden Turkey award. I have never been able to sit through all 2 hours of this dreary movie, despite trying on several occasions. The director should have dialed "O" for O'Malley.

1 9 6 0

HIGH TIME (20th Century Fox, director Blake Edwards, 102 minutes, COLOR)
CAST: Bing Crosby (Harvey Howard), Fabian, Tuesday Weld, Nicole Maurey, Richard Beymer, Jimmy Boyd, Gavin MacLeod, Nina Shipman, Frank Scannell. SONGS: "The Second Time Around," "You Tell Me Your Dream," "Foggy Foggy Dew," "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear" and "High Time." PLOT: Bing plays a 51-year-old widower and hamburger baron who decides it's "high time" he gets an education. He returns to college and moves into a dorm where his roommates include teen-throb Fabian. Bing falls in love with a French teacher (Maurey, who was also his leading lady in Little Boy Lost), and croons for her the Academy-Award nominated song "The Second Time Around." Bing's part was originally written for Spencer Tracy. Bing made screen history when he appeared in one scene in a dress. Campus scenes were filmed at Wake Forest College in North Carolina.

LET'S MAKE LOVE (20th Century Fox, 118 minutes, COLOR)
CAMEO: Bing is summoned to give singing lessons to Yves Montand, who is trying to win the heart of Marilyn Monroe. Originally Sinatra was to play the role of the vocal trainer, but a labor dispute prevented him from completing the assignment.
PEPE (Columbia, 195 minutes, COLOR)
CAMEO: Bing appears briefly in this movie starring Mexican comedian Cantinflas to autograph a tortilla. The picture bombed, hurling Cantinflas out of Hollywood and back to Mexico.

1 9 6 2

THE ROAD TO HONG KONG
(United Artists, director Norman Panama, 91 minutes, b&w)
CAST: Bing Crosby (Harry Turner), Bob Hope (Chester Babcock), Joan Collins, Dorothy Lamour, Robert Morley, Robert Ayres, Peter Sellers, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, David Niven, Jerry Colonna. SONGS: "Teamwork," "Road to Hong Kong," "Let's Not Be Sensible," "It's the Only Way to Travel" and "Personality." PLOT: Bob is knocked unconscious while he and Bing try to sell space suits to Asian natives. He awakens with amnesia. Bing takes him to the high lama in Tibet for treatment. Bob's memory returns better than ever -- total recall. A Russian agent mistakes Bob for her contact and slips him the secret formula for rocket fuel, which Bob memorizes and destroys. When the agent discovers her mistake, a chase ensues, leading Bing and Bob to Dorothy Lamour, who hides them. This was the last of the Road pictures, and the only one to be filmed outside the United States (in England). Lamour was hurt that Joan Collins, not her, was given the female lead. She agreed to appear in the movie only after the part she was offered was rewritten and enlarged. The movie was another box-office success, although in quality it ranks near the bottom of the Road journeys.

1 9 6 4

ROBIN AND THE SEVEN HOODS
(Warner Brothers, director Gordon Douglas, 123 minutes, COLOR)
CAST: Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Bing Crosby (Alan A. Dale), Peter Falk, Barbara Rush, Victor Buono, Phil Crosby, Hans Conreid, Joseph Ruskin, Edward G. Robinson. SONGS: "Give Praise," "I Like to Lead When I Dance," "Style," "Mr. Booze," "Don't Be a Do-Badder" and "My Kind of Town." PLOT: Sinatra plays a gangster boss in 1928 Chicago who tries to improve his image by becoming a Robin Hood character. Bing plays a stuffy secretary of an orphanage, who is the recipient of some of Sinatra's illegal income. In return, Bing offers himself as Sinatra's publicity and charity director. In the end Sinatra and his gang are defeated, and Bing gets the girl. Bing's part was originally written for Peter Lawford, but Sinatra and he had a falling out over President Kennedy, who was assassinated during the filming of the movie. This was the last musical film for both Crosby and Sinatra.

1 9 6 6

STAGECOACH (20th Century Fox, director Gordon Douglas, 114 minutes, COLOR)
CAST: Bing Crosby (Doc Josiah Boone), Ann-Margret, Red Buttons, Michael Connors, Alex Cord, Bob Cummings, Van Heflin, Slim Pickens, Stefanie Powers, Keenan Wynn. SONGS: "Stagecoach to Cheyenne" sung by Wayne Newton. PLOT: Bing plays an unshaven, drunken physician on board a stagecoach filled with assorted, and some sordid, characters on its way to Cheyenne through hostile Indian territory. The movie did not receive the rave reviews of its 1939 predecessor starring John Wayne, but Crosby's unusual role did attract many positive reviews. The film was shot on location near Boulder, Colorado, and Malibu Canyon, California. The movie was remade again in 1986 with Willie Nelson playing the role of "Doc" and Bing's daughter, Mary, playing the role of a pregnant Mrs. Mallory.

1 9 7 1

DR. COOK'S GARDEN (Paramount-ABC, director Ted Post, 90 minutes, COLOR)
CAST: Bing Crosby (Dr. Leonard Cook), Frank Converse, Blythe Danner, Abby Lewis, Barnard Hughes, Bethel Leslie. SONGS: none PLOT: Converse idolizes the small-town doctor played by Bing until he discovers that Bing is killing off those townfolk whom he deems unfit to survive. Bing tries to convert Converse, saying he is acting as a gardener weeding a garden. Converse is unconvinced, so Bing poisons him too, only to be tricked into giving him an antidote. When Bing discovers the deception, he tries to kill Converse with a hoe and suffers a heart attack. Converse refuses to give Bing his heart medicine and Bing gasps, "You see how it begins." This finale to Bing's film career is the first to feature him as a villain.

1 9 7 2

CANCEL MY RESERVATION (Warner Brothers, 99 minutes, COLOR)
CAMEO: While in jail Bob Hope dreams he is being lynched. He notices Bing and asks for help. Bing replies, "Who do you think bought the rope?"


Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences ||| BCIM Home ||| More Bing FAQs ||| Written by Steven Lewis