posted 07/10/05 11:42 AM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
I've never been a big fan of Bing films after High Society in 1956. But I must say I found myself really enjoying High Time when I saw it again recently. I hadn't seen this movie since I was about 7 years old, when I had loved it. I know many of you probably say the movie was intended for a 7 year old since it is admittedly silly and that it's hardly an adult film. I never thought I would give thumbs up to a movie with Fabian in it, but I will go out on a limb and say High Time (even with its many flaws) is Bing's best post-1956 film.
Okay... before the snickering begins, allow me to briefly defend my choice (then the brickbracks can pour forth). Here are some of my reasons High Time was Bing's best movie in later years:
1. There wasn't any competition, his other films weren't any good
2. Road to Hong Kong was so beneath the quality, production and laugh quotient of earlier Road movies that it really is a turkey
3. Stagecoach boasted a fine performance by Bing, but whoever thought of remaking a John Ford film should be drawn and quartered. In addition, no one could surpass Thomas Mitchell's sublime performance, or any of the other originals.
4. Robin and the Seven Hoods has its moments and is without a doubt a "better" movie than High Time, but Bing's performance is brief and it's really a Sinatra formula movie on not a Bing vehicle.
5. Say One For Me is dreadful
6. Man on Fire is alright, but too soap operish
7. Dr. Cook's Garden is quite good, but not as entertaining as High Time for obvious reasons.
So, am I all wet or does High Time have a secret fan or two?
posted 07/10/05 11:52 AM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
P.S. Let's not forget the movie was directed by Blake Edwards and even more importantly, Garson Kanin wrote the story; the same pen behind some of the best Tracy-Hepburn films.
posted 07/10/05 02:24 PM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
"High Time" in some ways brings Bing back full circle to "College Humor". Only this time he is the student in love with the professor.
While it is a light comedy it also underscores Bing's belief in the value of "Higher Education", a theme he would revisit in his TV situation comedy.
Harry Pleasant's in his book "The Great Popular Singers" said that Bing in the early 30's personified "Joe College" and this remained as part of his character with the pipe and the tweed sport jackets.
"High Time' also produced "The Second Time Around" which should have been on the soundtrack LP. Thankfully Bing's recording is now available on CD.
posted 07/10/05 02:56 PM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
HT has had a few supporters on this board over the years as I recall. I must sheepishly say that I'm not one of them.
As beneath the quality of the earlier "Road" pictures "Hong Kong" is, I still prefer it over HT. I appreciate Bing's noble effort in the latter film, both in reaching out to a younger audience, and in praising the merits of higher education; but I feel that on an entertainment level it's not even as good as "Where the Boys Are", which came out the same year (and isn't worth writing home about either!). It just seems a little too forced and stilted. I think it had the potential to be a much better movie, and I hate to say it, but I feel Bing may have been miscast in this one. I do like the way he comports himself throughout most of it, though, particularly in the restaurant scene with the snobbish waiter.
Blake Edwards' and Garson Kanin's involvement in the project make me even more disappointed in the finished product. Kanin's best work was behind him and Edwards' was ahead of him.
Candace, I completely agree with you on #3; John Ford's work, like his Monument Valley, is sacred ground in the movie universe. It can't be improved upon. (Alex Cord? ! What were they thinking??)
posted 07/10/05 03:13 PM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
P.S. I seem to remember we have a College Professor here on the forum don't we? I forget.
posted 07/10/05 05:53 PM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
I understand why most Bing fans would prefer "Hong Kong" to the vapid "High Time." For me, I've always winced at Hong Kong and don't find it amusing in the least. Curiously, I think this is Hope's doing more than Bing. None of Bob Hope's later movies are remotely funny and in some way, he lost his timing and wasn't funny more, IMO. Hope was still excellent at stand up comedy, but his movies from the 60's are perfectly dreadful, even when cast with great comediennes like Lucille Ball. I also must admit that I miss Dottie and find Joan Collins an embarrassing replacement.
As for Stagecoach, I am amazed that Bing accepted this role. I once read someone else discussing this remake of the 1939 original and they said, "It's like tearing down Buckingham Palace and replacing it with a trailer!"
Thinking of Bing in later movies like this, I always wish we could have seen him as Ben Rumson in "Paint Your Wagon." Just the chance to hear him sing the beautiful "Wandrin' Star" would be worth it. It's hard to think of anyone besides Lee Marvin in that role, however. :(
posted 07/10/05 06:22 PM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
I agree with some of your points and disagree with others.
First of all, though, I must say that "High Time" is a cute picture, very much of it's time, rather dated, but fun. Neither Bing's best or his worst of the era.
I TOTALLY agree with your one-word assessment of "Say One For Me". Bing's most excrutiating picture, in my opinion.
Our major disagreement: I find "Hong Kong" to be a very funny picture! I think it's certainly Hope's last amusing picture, in which his timing, otherwise poor in the 60s films, is still intact. I have no great love for Collins, but find her presence harmless. Mainly, however, I will never understand the majority opinion that "Hong Kong" is the worst of the Road pics. To my mind, that "honor" belongs to the mindless, disjointed, garish, poorly-paced, mish-mash that goes by the moniker "Road To Bali". Hong Kong is, in comparison, a streamlined, glistening work of art - (in my opinion)!
I pretty much agree with your comments regarding some of the other pictures.
for various other reasons that I don't have time to advance at the moment (wife is calling hungry Arne to dinner), I would select "Robin _amp; the 7 Hoods" as my favorite - "the best" - post "High Society" Crosby picture.
posted 07/10/05 07:06 PM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
"To See You" from "Road To Bali" has always been one of my favorite ballads by Bing.
"Let's Not Be Sensible" is not as great a song as "To See You" and is no where near "The Second Time Around" which is one of Cahn and VanHeusen's greatest songs.
Therefore I put "Bali" as well as "High Time" above "Hong Kong".
Bing also looks very drawn and tired in "Hong Kong" and opposite Joan Collins is showing his age.
posted 07/10/05 08:16 PM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
When Cahn and VanHeusen wrote "Second Time Around" for High Time, it seemed to parallel Bing's personal life. Kathryn Crosby said it was written for her at Bing's request. Other then Bing singing it in the film, I really only remember Frank Sinatra's version.
posted 07/10/05 08:26 PM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
In my original post in this thread I do concur that "Robin" is a much better film than "High Time." But it's not a Bing vehicle, rather a Sinatra thing. That's not a bad thing, but I regard Bing's performance as almost a cameo, good as it was. The "Mr. Booze" segment is the highlight of the entire film for me.
I agree that High Time is also dated, but it's one of the things I like about it. I also like ridiculously kitschy movies like Troy Donahue and Sandra Dee in "The Summer Place" or those Disney Hayley Mills movies. They bring back that period very well.
I would also agree that Road to Bali is not good either and unfunny in the extreme. But I still place it above Hong Kong because I find the inclusion of Joan Collins tawdry and pandering to a younger audience that didn't show up anyhow.
It's another topic for another day, but I wonder what happened to Hope's timing in the 60's? The man was brilliant in movies like "Caught in the Draft" and "Paleface," but had utterly lost it in the 60's. I realize the material had declined, but Bob was sleepwalking through many of these early 60's disasters. Yet he still was sharp in stand up. Perhaps a loss of interest?
posted 07/10/05 08:49 PM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
Sinatra recorded "The Second Time Around" TWICE. LOL.
First, like Bing, on a 45 single and later on the LP "Sinatra's Sinatra".
The highlight of "Robin" with respect to Bing has to be "Style" with Frank and Dean. Watch a "gassed" Sammy looking on. Dick Bakalayan, another of the Merry Men recalled turning to Sammy during the scene and commenting how great Frank and Dean were. Sammy replied "I'm watching Bing Crosby MAN."
I also like when Bing gets shot with an arrow and the kid who keeps saying "There's something wrong with his throat".
posted 07/10/05 08:53 PM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
Am I the only one who likes "Bali"? I still get a kick out of it every time I watch it. Like the rest of the "Roads", it's a grab-bag of gags--which is all they were ever meant to be--and the "boys'" timing was still at its peak. As for "disjointedness", "garishness", and "poor pacing", well...after all, they weren't aiming for "Citizen Kane" territory, or even "City Lights". Which is partly why I like it (and I like the other two as well).
I don't know what happened to Bob in the '60s. I read somewhere that Woody Allen chalked it up to laziness. I wouldn't go that far, but a level of complacency must have set in, otherwise we wouldn't have "I'll Take Sweden" today. Though I feel he rose to the occasion with "Hong Kong", perhaps because of Bing's presence.
posted 07/10/05 10:27 PM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
I have to say that, in general, I really liked "High Time" -- until the very end of the movie. The business of Crosby in his cap and gown flying around like Mary Martin as Peter Pan, however, rather exceeded my hoke toleration level. Bing's rendition of "Second Time Around," though, was definitely worth the price of admission.
posted 07/11/05 09:31 AM Central Time (US) no email address given
Frank Sinatra was no match for Bing in Robin _amp; The Seven Hoods. The moment Bing appears on sreen the movie is his and the hoods became part of the audience. Whe I think of that movie only Bing comes to mind.
posted 07/11/05 10:28 AM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
I remember something like that too. Kathryn said that Bing didn't express his feelings very often, but one day came home and said to her "Here, listen to this," and he put on Second Time Around for the first time. Less than a year after Bing died, Kathryn appeared on a talk show and Sammy Cahn was also supposed to appear. The host had a great time talking to Kathryn and never brought out Sammy until the very end of the show. Sammy ended up playing "Second Time Around" for Kathryn. It was really nice.
posted 07/11/05 05:13 PM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
Jon, several Bing fans I've known loved Bali, so you're not lone man on that totem pole. I was reading an interview with Hope gag writer Hal Kanter and he said that Bing and Bob's gag writers worked for months on the Road pictures. Despite this, I really wish they would have packed it in after Utopia, which is my favorite Road film. For me, Rio, Bali and especially Hong Kong, fall flat. Rio and Bali may have been a case of Hope/Crosby simply having too many fingers to too many pies and just having a loss of interes in the project. There just doesn't seem to be the spontaneity, exuberance and freshness in those movies. Maybe it was just getting older as well.
I often thought that the aborted project of "Road to the Fountain of Youth" would have been a disaster. Recently I saw Bob again in "Cancel my Reservation" and itw as painful to watch, he was just dialing it in by then, which is a pity considering his talent. I would much preferred to see Bing and Bob in a serious movie in the 70's, something like "The Sunshine Boys," or something along the lines of what Matthau and Lemmon were doing.
posted 07/11/05 05:25 PM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
It's pure conjecture of course, but I've also suspected that making another Road picture at the time "Fountain" was proposed would have been ill advised. Though whenever he talked about this project in interviews, Bing was always quick to note that he and Bob were "too old" to be chasing women around, adding that, in order for him to agree to sign on, it would have to be something along the lines of Monty Python or Marty Feldman (remember him)--which just might have worked. Who knows?
"Utopia" is also my favorite Road pic, and it's among my all time favorite comedies as well.
posted 07/11/05 05:47 PM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
Yes, sadly, "Cancel My Reservation" is truly awful. It's not all Bob's fault though; as I recall, the writing and the production values were on the level of a low budget TV movie. Then again, maybe Bob *was* solely to blame, as he was calling the shots and certainly could have hired the best talent in Hollywood at the time. Too bad...
posted 07/11/05 06:03 PM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
I still stand by "Bali". Sure, it drags a little in the scene with the guys in gorilla suits, and sure, Bing _amp; Bob were no longer "callow youths"...but there are too many priceless moments to cast this one aside:
- The cameos by Bogart, Bob ("a shot in the picture") Crosby, Jane Russell, and especially Martin _amp; Lewis.
- The message-in-a-bottle gag: "Isn't it a pity? Every movie's got to have a message", says Bing
- Hope telling the audience that it's time to go to the lobby for popcorn, because Bing's about to sing
- "To See You Is to Love You"
- "Hoot, Mon" - the kilts and the jitterbugging crack me up
- Bing sliding donuts down a cane from the window of the dining car to Bob, who's riding underneath
- A crocodile takes a bite out of the seat of Bob's pant to reveal, in Bing's words, "Color TV...wide screen, too!"
posted 07/11/05 07:13 PM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
Ha: Laugh of the day - Bing sliding donuts down a cane to Bob Hope under the train!!
I'd like to comment on "The Second Time Around." Bing recorded this song in August 1960; this is a great Crosby recording, originally an MGM single. He had a four month lead on Frankie whose first version, also a single, was done in December 60. The song was an Oscar nominee, losing out to "Never on Sunday." It's too bad Bing didn't have a huge hit with it; Ron Howard used it 25 years later in the movie "Cocoon."
Frank Sinatra re-recorded it in 1963 for his album called "Sinatra's Sinatra", in case you forgot who was singing, and this album went gold [500,000+ copies sold]. This may be why many people, as Jane S noted, associate it with Sinatra -- but it was introduced by BING, and very effectively. Perhaps it should have been promoted more, but you can't rewrite history.
posted 07/11/05 07:33 PM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
And don't forget Errol Flynn's screaming.
Bob asks what was that and Bing replied it was EF because they had the girls.
All good stuff.
Rio was good too.
And I suppose Dottie would have been cheesed off with Hong Kong putting Collins in - shocker!
posted 07/11/05 09:07 PM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
Boy, you've convinced me to watch Bali again. Last time I attempted it I couldn't get through it, but I will try and see it all this weekend. Sometimes films we previously disliked can grow on us. (I wouldn't count on it with Bali, however). LOL!
Bob Hope's demise as a great screen comedian is an interesting topic. A similar fate awaited Jerry Lewis, who simply wasn't funny as he grew older. I suspect this is because Lewis relied much more on physical comedy and he just wasn't able to do the pratfalls as he reached his 40's. Hope's problems are of a different nature and even more serious than Jerry's. Lewis at least made a comeback of sorts in a few dramatic roles in which he was excellent. I often wish Bob would have attemped some serious roles in the 1970's because he had it in him to be a good straight actor.
I recently watched many of Bob's 1960's movies and it was a chore, I'll tell you. There were flashes of comedic excellence in a few films, especially that Phyllis Diller movie from 1968, "Sgt. O'Farrel," but they were all Phyllis' bits! Bob just snored through all these films, which is a pity.
In any event, I strongly feel that "Road to the Fountain of Youth" would have been a terrible bomb. They would have relied on the same old Barry Dean type of gag writers they'd had for 30 years and it just wouldn't have gone over. Had Bing and Bob attempted a dramatic movie with an excellent script, then the results would have been much better, assuming Hope would have been sufficiently interested in the project to really put out and not sleepwalk through it.
When I see the "Grumpy Old Men" movie with Matthau and Lemmon I could envision Bing and Bob doing something like that.
posted 07/12/05 01:18 AM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
Jon, Candace, etc.....
I understand what you're saying about Bali - that the film's very "disjointedness" is just a part of the essential charm of all the Road pics. I don't know, though, there's just something about the film that plays tired and poorly executed to me. I LOVE Zanzibar, Morocco, Utopia, and, yes, Rio, which is a bit different from the others in many ways, but still a highly entertaining picture, and a far more unified, cohesive effort than Bali...
Understand what I'm saying here: Part of the reason that Morocco and Utopia are regarded as the best in the series - and among the best comedies ever made - is their COHESIVENESS - and this, in spite of the fact that they are the "screwiest pictures" of their time. To my way of thinking, "Bali" is the only movie in the series that drops the ball re: this "cohesiveness" - and I'm including Hong Kong, which, no matter what else you might say about it, has more cohesiveness and structure than does Bali. (even though many find it disappointingly unfunny).
(Incidentally, somebody on the crew of the film certainly found Hope to be funny: If you watch the scene where a tranced-out Hope is embracing Collins, under the spell of her moonshaped earrings, you'll hear a member of the crew start to laugh as Hope is obsessing about her "dual Carburetors" - The laugh lasts for less than a split second before the scene is cut.)
On "Robin": Part of the reason I love this picture is BECAUSE it wasn't supposed to be a "Crosby picture". Nevertheless, Bing steals the film, as Tony says, as soon as he appears. I also remember that, at the time the film was released, the local papers _amp; reviewers (and advertisers) in my town constantly referred to it as the "new Crosby - Sinatra" picture. It just wasn't conceivable yet to consider Bing to be a second banana to the other boys in the minds of the public at the time. Another point about this picture: Musically speaking, the film is Bing's; he simply sings more in the film than do Sinatra, Davis, or Martin.
To Ron Sarbo: I can't really get behind your logic regarding the quality of the films being ranked solely on the quality of the songs. For instance, "I Couldn't Care Less" is one of Cahn _amp; Van Heusen's best songs written for Bing, yet the film "Say One For Me" is many people's choice for an all-time stinker. I agree that "To See You" (from Bali) is a beautiful song - but it doesn't save the picture for me. To use this logic during Bing's earlier years, would we say that "Just For You", which contains the classic "Zing A Little Zong", is a better picture than "A Connecticut Yankee", just because none of the latter film's songs are as memorable?
I do agree that Bing looks too old for Collins (in Hong Kong), and that mars the picture. However, the same could be said for "High Time", in the scene wherein Bing faces Maurey in the house and BIng takes a tender close-up: far older looking to me than at any moment in Hong Kong.
All of this stuff is so totally in the mind _amp; heart of the beholder, isn't it? but fun to toss around the viewpoints.
posted 07/12/05 10:42 AM Central Time (US) no email address given
Ya, go ahead and watch it again (road to Bali). I thought it was cute. I own it. Although I may be bias.
posted 07/12/05 11:28 AM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
I'm generally all for structure and cohesiveness in movies, but I think they can become less necessary when it comes to comedies...in SOME cases.
Let's use the Marx Brothers for an example. I think their three best films were "Monkey Business", "Horse Feathers", and "Duck Soup", which they made while at Paramount in the early 1930s. In those wild romps the plots and structures were virtually out the window, taking a back seat to the Brothers' antics--yet many consider them to be the creme of the Marx's crop, classics in fact. Especially when compared to their later efforts for MGM, in which Irving Thalberg "cleaned them up", added "structure and cohesiveness" to their films, and basically changed their raison detre from pure, unadulterated anarchy to saving the damsel in distress for Alan Jones, or the hospital for Maureen O'Sullivan.
As you say, this is all in the mind and heart of the beholder, and while I don't mind "A Night at the Opera" or "A Day at the Races", I much prefer the Paramount Marx films, at least in part because of (what I perceive to be) a lack of structure or cohesiveness--though I wouldn't want a steady diet of it. But to each his or her own, and there are many who prefer the MGM entries. My wife doesn't like ANY Marx Brothers movies!
Now, I'm not saying "Bali" is on the level of a classic like "Duck Soup"--or "Morocco", or "Utopia"--but I find it a very funny movie and an enjoyable way to pass a rainy Sunday afternoon. And this is a slow day at work...can you tell?
posted 07/12/05 01:48 PM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
Jon, I guess I'm just not communicating my feelings very clearly, maybe "cohesiveness" is not the right word. But it's the best one I can come up with!
You see, I love those Paramount Marx Bros. films as much as you do, and much prefer them to the later MGMs.
They are screwy - insane - surreal (at times) - etc. -
BUT, they are tightly made and edited, constantly moving, without a wasted frame of film (although some folks don't care for the musical numbers)
To me, "Horse Feathers" _amp; "Duck Soup" (as well as "Morocco" and "Utopia") are like tight, athletic young bodies, readying for the olympics..... "Bali", on the other hand, is like a flabby, middle-aged body, uncoordinated, grabbing for a beer (and accidentally spilling it all over the couch).
Hong Kong? - a relatively well-conditioned old timer, ill-advisedly coming out of retirement, but still in decent trim.
posted 07/12/05 02:03 PM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
Hmm....interesting analogy, Arne. I won't be able to help but think of it every time I sit my middle-aged body down on the couch...
While I guess we must agree to disagree regarding the merits, or lack thereof, of "Bali", I want to reiterate that I wasn't comparing it to the best of the "Road" or Marx pictures. Your analogy is apt (though might it be inspired in part by the relative youthfulness of the stars?); I just get a kick out of "Bali", despite its shaky structure.
posted 07/12/05 03:19 PM Central Time (US) no email address given
Speaking of Marx Brothers Songs in there films.One of my favorites is the song at the end of A Day At The Races.With A Jones Groucho and others.I cant remember the name of the number.
posted 07/12/05 03:20 PM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
I just want to say something for the underdogs, I really liked and thought both "Bali" _amp; "Hong Kong" were funny, very funny. I can remember laughing out loud several times during both movies. I do remember, however, not liking one of the '40's Road movies, though which one I couldn't tell you now. I'm sure I must have written about it during our Movie of the Month days, but I can only remember now I didn't much like one of the '40's considered classic Road movies, whereas I loved Hong Kong _amp; Bali. I like the Marx Bros. but given a choice I'd rather watch Laurel _amp; Hardy, 3 Stooges or a W.C. Fields movie. At this point I can take or leave the Marx Bros., whereas I'm always happy to see Fields again. So, that's how I sees it.
posted 07/12/05 03:27 PM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
Oh, and my other 2 cents, I also really liked "Say One For Me". Well I have a problem with Robert Wagner in the movie, his character is so repugnant, it makes me sick to watch him. But other than my personal illnesses during the movie, I think "Say One For Me" is a good movie, not great, but I'd go so far to say it's very good. I know this is one movie I watch almost every Christmas, whereas I can only muster my energy to see "Going My Way" every 3 or 4 year's at Christmas. Going My Way just goes on too long, it's never over. And what makes me crazy is that it's considered a Christmas movie, where only one very brief scene is at all related to Christmas. I might be even prodded to say Going My Way is a borefest, but then I'd be getting too nasty. Though, when it comes down to it, I do think it's a bore. But "Say One For Me" isn't plodding or boring, it's got it's point to make, and it does it, then closes with the all-time best Bing Christmas song, next to White Christmas, "Secret Of Christmas". So, how can you not like this movie with a new Bing classic Christmas song in it? And Uncle Martin from My Favorite Martian is in color and so is one of my favorite stooges, Joe Besser, they're both in Say 1 For Me. So I ask, What's not to like?
posted 07/12/05 03:30 PM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
The only problem I have with the Marx Bros. stems from the fact that they made relatively few movies (about a dozen or so), and even fewer that I really like (about a half-dozen). As a result, I've watched my favorites too many times to have the belly laughs I enjoyed the first few times I saw them. So I wish they made more when they were in their prime.
Laurel and Hardy, on the other hand, made many films, when you count the two-reel shorts, so they provided virtually an endless font of funniness--since they were ALWAYS in their prime, IMO.
And since we're talking about comics, it's interesting that, while there was always a touch of humor in Bing's film personae, his ability as a comic actor was never fully revealed until the "Roads", in which he adeptly kept pace with Hope--something no mere amatuer could have been capable of.
posted 07/12/05 03:41 PM Central Time (US) no email address given
I like "Going my way", I think that it was better than "Bells of St. Mary" ( I found that to be an ongoing borefest). Although I agree..it's not quite a Christmas movie or a comedy, I find it to be a touching and clever movie. I think there is something you learn about character in this movie. It's lovely.
posted 07/12/05 04:03 PM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
I've enjoyed reading everyone's takes on Bing's later movies. I have to throw in my two cents on "Road to Bali." I re-watched it recently with my son. Both of us were laughing out loud at parts of it. It's not my favorite Road picture, but in my book it's definitely worth watching. As for "Say One for Me," I've never really liked it. I do like "High Time." Bing never pretends to be any younger than he is, but fits in with his college buddies just the same. However, I agree that the last scene (flying over the auditorium) is not befitting of Bing.
posted 07/12/05 05:34 PM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
Could "Singapore" be the 40s "Road" that leaves you cold? As the first in the series, it differs in several drastic ways from the others, - it's much more "conventional" - maybe that's the problem....
As for "Say One For Me" - I think my biggest problem with the movie centers around the scene wherein Bing is made to look silly, trying to read jokes to Wagner. The sight of Bing, acting like some unhip old square, was to me, a violation of Bing's image and his character. This is not the same as in "Country Girl", in which Bing plays an entirely different kind of character. Rather, in "Say One", he's playing the familiar "Bing as Priest" role, albeit humiliated in this pivotal scene. As long as we're drawing analogies to classic comedy characters in this thread, I might say that it reminds me of the scenes in Laurel _amp; Hardy's pathetic 1940s MGM _amp; Fox movies where they're moved to tears and bathetic wimpering for the romantic couple in the films; a violation of the classic characters they created _amp; honed in the 20s _amp; 30s (AIR-RAID WARDENS is a good example). - Or Groucho's declaration to the heroine that "we also double as 'best men'" in "GO WEST"..... This, from the guy who started a WAR in "Duck Soup", just for the fun of it? -- tragic.
Yes, now that you mention it, the stars youthfulness might have a subliminal effect on my perception - but, that wouldn't explain my preference for "Hong Kong('62)" over "Bali"('52).
I could go on and give further examples of my visceral dislike of the movie, but I fear I might have overdone the point by now. Anyway, as I said when I first brought it up, I realize I'm in the minority when stating these preferences.
posted 07/12/05 07:31 PM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
Lee, I think you're the first person I have known who liked Joe Besser as a stooge. This is not meant as a criticism at all, but merely a statement of extreme surprise. Most Stooge fans, as you no doubt know, despise Besser and DeRita. It's good to see Joe Besser has one fan at least.
Going My Way is overly long and extremely dated/boring in parts. The Rise Stevens character and the whole opera scene is terrible and has no place in the film. In addition, the love interest and the girl who sings "The Day After Tomorrow" (Jean Heather, I believe), needs to go. Where was the editor? I would have preferred to have seen nothing but Bing and then a few scenes with the delightful Barry Fitzgerald and Barry McHugh. My favorite scene is where Bing sings "Too Ra Loo Ra Loo Ral" to Barry. I wish he would have sung me this song as a lullaby! :)
Ditto for Bells of St. Mary, an even worse picture. Terrible miscasting of Ingrid Bergman here.
Say One For Me is a turkey. Sorry Lee, we must disagree here.
posted 07/12/05 07:56 PM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
I think you mean Frank McHugh.
Personally, I enjoy the way GMW moves along at its own leisurely pace. It compels you to slow down, sit back, and accept the film on its own terms. It's a slice of life movie and, though I could do without the opera scene, I wouldn't change a thing. Well, maybe replace Jean Heather. The bottom line is, Bing and Barry deliver in their respective roles of a lifetime, and they carry the film--particularly Bing.
I don't feel as highly for "Bells"--except for the final scence, Bing's finest moment on film--but I think Ingrid pulls off her role commendably.
posted 07/12/05 08:10 PM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
You haven't overdone your point by any means. Nothing wrong with a friendly debate. I'm intrigued by your "visceral dislike" for "Bali".
posted 07/12/05 09:02 PM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
The scene where Bing shows Jean Heather how to sing "The Day After Forever" is one of my favorites. Follow his eyes as he follows her hand motions and when he mimics her asking "What does this have to do with song? There's no thought behind it".
Sinatra would explain the same thing to Debbie Reynolds when he teaches her to sing "The Tender Trap".
Also very daring for 1944 is Bing finding Jean Heather and James Brown (Rin Tin Tin) living together in one of Gene Lockhart's apartments.
This prompts Bing to sing the title song "Going My Way" and he leaves the apartment with a knowing smile that he had gotten thru to the two young lovers without preaching a sermon. They are married later by Bing off-screen.
posted 07/12/05 09:19 PM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
I don't think they're living together in that scene, Ronald. The Hayes office would never have permitted it, and McCarey wouldn't have run the risk of having his film condemned by the Catholic Church. Bing finding a young man visiting a young woman in her apartment without a chaperone was daring enough for 1944.
posted 07/12/05 09:25 PM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
Thanks for the correction, I did mean, of course, Frank McHugh, not Barry McHugh.
I also enjoy the scene with Jean Heather and "The Day After Forever," and Bing is very droll here. I just can't stand Jean Heather. She's a bad actress and grates on the nerves, IMO. Her boyfriend isn't much better in the picture.
posted 07/12/05 09:37 PM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
I love the Day After Forever scene too. Do you guys remember a game show with Don Adams where regular folks had to perform a screen test reenacting scenes from classic movies with a guest star? This was my avorite episode. Seeing people try to do Jean Heather's role and Bing's. Bothe were harder than they looked.
I think they were living together. After all, shse was in her robe and all. I think the movie got a pass by the censors because they saw that Bing was playing a priest and they decided why watch the whole thing, it had to be acceptable. Perhaps they were married in a civil ceremony first, and then later by Bing in the church... That way we can both be right!!
posted 07/13/05 07:54 AM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
In both "Going My Way" and "The Bells Of St. Mary's" Bing's Father O'Malley is NOT judgmental.
How he treats Patsy's Mom is another example.
She tells Bing: "I'm no good"
Bing reassures her that he KNOWS she is a "good mother".
How Bing underplays when he reunites Patsy's Mom with William Gargan is another example.
When she asks "How did you find him?" Bing replies "He's a musician. I went to the top: Petrillo!" is another classic.
posted 07/13/05 07:59 AM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
To Candace, Joe Besser was a very funny character, he did something different from all the other stooges, refused to mimic Curly, played his own type of character and developed his own funny bits for his stooge role, "not so haaarrrd". I always enjoy Joe Besser Stooge shorts. My favorite Stooge though is Shemp, now that man was truly funny, knew comedy backward and forward, had a funny face, a funny way of talking and did great antics and takes. He was just all around funny. Shemp was the best, in my opinion. Curly shorts? I can take or leave them. But I'll always stop to watch a Shemp or Besser short. I will agree with the crowd though on Joe DeRita, what a horror. Not funny, and most of all not original. Shemp _amp; Besser, at least, did their own thing.
I'm not sure Arne, you're probably right, Singapore may have been the clinker for me. I do remember it not being nearly as funny as I hoped it would.
And finally, I agree with all of you, The Day After Forever is a great scene and a great song. And I like the wayward girl in Going My Way too, her big toothed boyfriend I could live without. Probably the definition of a "big galoot".
posted 07/13/05 11:22 AM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
I remember a scene in "Barney Miller", the '70s TV show, in which dry, quick-witted Sgt. Dietrich (played by Steve Landesberg) is praising the merits of Three Stooges to dull but spirited Officer Levitt, going on about their supposed sociological significance. After Dietrich finishes his scholarly lecture, Levitt responds with, "I like Shemp." Dietrich pauses for a moment and replies, deadpan, "I have nothing further to say to you."
Guess Dietrich was a Curly fan.
posted 07/13/05 04:26 PM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
This is off-topic, but when I was a little girl, I started writing to Moe Howard and Larry Fine, when Larry lived in the Motion Picture Country Home. Eventually Moe invited me to his house in the Hollywood Hills and I got to see Larry twice at the Motion Picture Home. Both were dear, lovely gentlemen in the truest sense of the word. They were so nice to me when I was just 9 and 10 years old. I still have the photos and letters they wrote to me and cherish them. Moe's wife Helen told me that Moe spent hours every morning answering fan letters, and this was when Moe was well into his 70's.
Interestingly, I asked Moe if he had ever met Bing Crosby and he said, "yes!" and told some stories of how he and the others had seen him doing the Kraft Music Hall and also saw him at Hollywood Park and Del Mar.
posted 07/13/05 04:41 PM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
I envy you your personal interaction with the stooges. They are among my favorites. I'm surprised that Moe didn't mention to you what he mentions in his autobiography: that he _amp; Bing were neighbors during the 40s.
On Joe Besser: He was a hysterically funny fellow, but I don't think he was at his best with the Stooges. This may partially be because the budgets at this time were rock-bottom, and the Stooges series was out of steam and inspiration during these last years. In contrast, if you want to see Besser being REALLY funny, then catch his work with Abbott _amp; Costello in their weekly half-hour series from the 1950s. As "Stinky", Besser is gut-funny, often more so than Lou. Shemp is a funny guy, too, and I suspect a better all-around actor than any of the other stooges. One reason his shorts may not be as popular with audiences today as brother Curly's, is that they are on more limited budgets, therefore more static and situational. The Curly shorts are insane, with the boys running all over Hollywood like crazy little termites, destroying everything in their path! - Nevertheless, I think one of my all-time favorites is a Shemp short: "Three Dark Horses" - A truly lunatic effort about presidential conventions.
You bring up the only two people, in a lifetime of study of entertainers _amp; biographical reading, that I've NEVER heard ANYONE say anything negative about: Jack Benny and Harpo Marx. Groucho was complex. His letters to his oldest daughter, Miriam (recently published), seem to reveal a caring and compassionate, if occasionally stern, parent. Like Bing, there are mixed reports about Groucho. Not so Harpo and Benny; they must've been saints.
JON: You like that "visceral" stuff, eh? - I guess because it's a "gut" feeling, I'm having difficulty articulating it. (my feelings about "Bali").
posted 07/13/05 05:12 PM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
I don't know how we got from "High Time" to Bells of St. Mary's" (much less the 3 Stooges) but here goes: I have always entertained mixed emotions about "Bells." It was very enjoyable in many respects and had several wonderful scenes. The final scene in which Father O'Malley informs Sr. Benedict that she has TB is, as others have remarked, beautiful. I have always loved the scene in which Crosby joins the nuns around the piano and sings the title song. He was never in better voice. The major plot theme of the movie, however, has always bothered me. It centers around the idea of a fast-talking priest convincing a hard-nosed industrialist to donate his factory to the nuns as a parish school. This simply taxes credulity beyond the breaking point for me, and it seriously mars a movie which could have been so much better.
posted 07/13/05 07:34 PM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
Arne, Moe's autobiography had not been published when I met him shortly before his death in 1975 and I didn't know he and Bing were neighbors until I read it! I immediately wondered why Moe hadn't mentioned this, but he didn't. Moe was very amused that a girl of 11 would be a Bing Crosby fan. He said, "What? I would think you'd be into David Bowie or Elton what's-his-name."