The Big Broadcast (1932). 80 minutes. Directed by Frank Tuttle. Starring Bing Crosby (as Bing Hornsby), Stuart Erwin (as Leslie McWhinney), Leila Hyams (as Anita Rogers), Sharon Lynn (as Mona Lowe), George Burns (as Mr. Burns), and Gracie Allen (as reception clerk). Featuring musical performances by Cab Calloway, The Mills Brothers, The Boswell Sisters, Vincent Lopez and His Orchestra, Eddie Lang, Donald Novis, Kate Smith, and Arthur Tracy.
For a modern audience, watching The Big Broadcast—the first installment of the Big Broadcast film series that Paramount produced in the 1930s—is like watching two different movies at once. On the one hand, it can be enjoyed as a nostalgic, even escapist trip through the past: the movie features a plethora of wonderful period musical acts (including Cab Calloway, The Boswell Sisters, and The Mills Brothers) and boasts some delightful vintage comedy in the form of radio stars George Burns and Gracie Allen. But at least as interesting is what makes … Read the rest
King of Jazz (1930). 105 minutes. Directed by Paul Fejos and John Murray Anderson. Starring Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra, The Rhythm Boys (Bing Crosby, Al Rinker, Harry Barris), Joe Venuti, Eddie Lang, Willie Hall, Jeanie Lang, George Chiles, John Boles, Wilbur Hall, Al Norman, Jeanette Loff, Stanley Smith, The Russell Markert Girls, The Sisters G, Glenn Tryon, Laura LaPlante, and The Brox Sisters. Art direction by Herman Rosse. Animation by Walter Lantz and William Nolan.
The American King of Jazz, like the British Elstree Calling (1930), is a surviving musical revue from the early days of sound. Filmed in two-strip Technicolor, which emphasizes shades of turquoise and rose, it, unlike Elstree Calling, is a lavish production with impressive sets and gorgeous costumes. Herman Rosse, who created King of Jazz’s often remarkable visual style, won an Academy Award for Best Art Direction for his work on the film. King of Jazz was not successful upon its initial … Read the rest
Holiday Inn (1942). 102 minutes. Directed by Mark Sandrich. Starring Bing Crosby (as Jim Hardy), Fred Astaire (as Ted Hanover), Marjorie Reynolds (as Linda Mason), Virginia Dale (as Lila Dixon), and Walter Abel (as Danny Reed). Story and songs by Irving Berlin. Choreography by Danny Dare.
Holiday Inn is a clever, Christmas-oriented spin on the “let’s put on a show” variety of Golden Age musical. It features Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire as New York stage entertainers. Along with Virginia Dale, they form a song-and-dance trio that at the beginning of the film is slated for its farewell performance. Lila Dixon (played by Dale) plans to marry Jim Hardy (played by Crosby) and retire with him to a farm in Connecticut, but on the evening of their last show she reveals that she is in love with Ted Hanover (played by Astaire) and keen to keep on singing and dancing with him. Crosby recovers quickly and in stride in a … Read the rest