||December 1, 2006
Revisit the years when MUSICALS were kings of the movies!
Barnes & Noble.com
NOOK Book ebook by Barnes & Noble
Amazon Kindle ebook
New Film Books
In the golden years of cinema, Hollywood's Christmas present to ardent movie fans was almost always a brace of spectacular musicals. In those days, musicals easily rated as the most popular genre of movies. They were eagerly anticipated not only by the carriage trade but middle-class, rural and factory-town audiences as well.
This 270-page large-format book provides a guide to over 150 of these crowd-pleasing, musical delights, ranging from "Annie Get Your Gun" to "Ziegfeld Girl". To give you an idea of the scope of this book here are just ONE of those 150 entries. (These are copies of my original draft, so there may be a few errors here and there which have been corrected in the book itself).
ROAD TO RIO
Bing Crosby (Scat Sweeney), Bob Hope (Hot Lips Barton), Dorothy Lamour (Lucia Maria De Andrade), Gale Sondergaard (Catherine Vail), Frank Faylen (Trigger), Joseph Vitale (Tony), Frank Puglia (Rodrigues), Nestor Paiva (Cardoso), Robert Barrat (Johnson), Jerry Colonna (cavalry captain), Wiere Brothers (musicians), Andrews Sisters, Carioca Boys, Stone-Baron Puppeteers (themselves), George Meeker (Sherman Maley), Stanley Andrews (Captain Harmon), Harry Woods (ship's purser), Tor Johnson (Samson), Donald Kerr (steward), Stanley Blystone (assistant purser), George Sorel (prefeito), John "Skins" Miller (dancer), Alan Bridge, (ship's officer), Arthur Q. Bryan (Stanton), Babe London (woman), Gino Corrado (barber), George Chandler (valet), Paul Newlan, George Lloyd (butchers), Fred Zendar (stevedore), Ralph Gomez, Duke York, Frank Hagney (roustabouts), Ralph Dunn (foreman), Peipito Perez (dignified gentleman), Ray Teal (Buck), Brandon Hurst (barker), Barbara Pratt (airline hostess), Tad Van Brunt (pilot), Patsy O'Bryne (charwoman), Raul Roulien (cavalry officer), Charles Middleton (farmer), Albert Ruiz, Laura Corbay (specialty dancers), Frank Ferguson (Buck's foreman).
Director: NORMAN Z. McLEOD. Screenplay: Edmund Beloin, Jack Rose. Photography: Ernest Laszlo. Film editor: Elsworth Hoagland. Art directors: Hans Dreier, Earl Hedrick. Set decorators: Sam Comer, Ray Moyer. Costumes: Edith Head. Make-up: Wally Westmore. Special photographic effects: Gordon Jennings, Paul Lerpae. Process photography: Farciot Edouart. Assistant director: Oscar Rudolph. Sound recording: Harold Lewis, Walter Oberst. Western Electric Sound System. Producer: Daniel Dare.
Songs: "But Beautiful" (Crosby); "You Don't Have To Know the Language" (Crosby, Andrews Sisters); "Experience" (Lamour); "Apalachicola, Fla" (Crosby, Hope); "Cavaquinho" (Wiere Brothers) -- all by Johnny Burke (lyrics) and James Van Heusen (music), who wrote another song, "For What?" for the Andrews Sisters, but this was deleted; "Brazil" (orchestral) by Ary Barroso (music), Bob Russell (lyrics). Music director: Robert Emmett Dolan. Music associate: Troy Sanders. Vocal arrangements: Joseph J. Lilley. Dances staged by Bernard Pearce and Billy Daniels. Executive producers: Bing Crosby, Bob Hope.
Copyright 25 August 1947 by Bing Crosby Enterprises, Inc., and Hope Enterprises, Inc. Released through Paramount. New York opening at the Paramount: 18 February 1948. U.S. release: 25 December 1947. U.K. release: 29 March 1948. Australian release: 6 May 1948. 9,144 feet. 101 minutes.
SYNOPSIS: After a wonderfully stimulating special effects cross-country montage sequence in which our ever-helpful crooner identifies himself firstly as Frank Sinatra, than as Gene Autry, Bing and Bob sing and dance their way through "Apalachicola, Fla", after which they burn down a whole carnival. And this is just for openers. Fleeing from the vengeance of the carnival owner, they stow away on board a luxury passenger ship bound for Rio where they meet and rescue a beautiful heiress who is being craftily mesmerised by her evil aunt. The aunt's two goons hunt the boys down, but...
NOTES: Fifth of the seven Road pictures. See The Road to Singapore for a complete rundown.
With a domestic rentals gross of $4.5 million , this was the number one boxoffice attraction in the U.S. and Canada in 1948. Although the movie did not do quite so spectacularly in Britain and Australia, it was certainly Paramount's top-grossing picture of the year in both countries.
Despite its boxoffice success, the film received only one Oscar nomination, and that was for Robert Emmett Dolan in the Scoring of a Musical category. He lost to Alfred Newman's Mother Wore Tights.
Best Actor, Bing Crosby -- Photoplay Gold Medal Award.
VIEWER'S GUIDE: Not suitable for children.
Wonderful fun. The Road to Rio is an almost perfect musical comedy, wittily scripted, ingratiatingly played, sensitively directed and lavishly produced. The songs are great too. So are the clever dances. The bantering between Bing and Bob was never better and here they are joined by a really out-of-the-drawer support cast led by the spider lady herself, Gale Sondergaard. If you were compiling an anthology of memorable moments in film comedy, this film contains so many classic scenes you'd be forced to give the whole idea away and just use this movie instead.
OTHER VIEWS: Even though it's full of "in" jokes, topical allusions and now-forgotten references, The Road to Rio is just as mightily entertaining today as it was to audiences in 1948. Partly due to the fact that Hope delivers his darts with such casual grace and marvellously off-handed timing patrons not in the know won't realise he's being funny; and partly the fact that the film now has a tremendous boost in nostalgia appeal. It would be hard to better this cast line-up. Not only are the players at their peak, but the script's situations are still wonderfully, crazily funny. And the four main songs are tunefully witty standards that are still hummed today. As a satire on the movie chase thriller, complete with cross-cutting to the last-minute rescue party that here actually arrives on the scene too late, The Road to Rio is still an absolute delight. Bing and Bob put their own money into this one, spent it with admirably free hands, and happily received handsome dividends. Good on you, boys!
Ross Adams in DRESS CIRCLE magazine
This 262 page book is a must for all movie musical fans. The cover is adorned with a stunning full color photo of Zsa Zsa Gabor in the original "Moulin Rouge", while the back cover features a color photo of Betty Hutton standing in front of a huge Annie Oakley poster.
All the great musical stars are represented in this book. Here are the Bing Crosby pictures and the Fred Astaire's, as well as the stars of the "Road to … " movies, namely Bing Crosby, Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour. The list goes on and on: Ginger Rogers, Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, Debbie Reynolds, Dean Martin, Jack Haley, Tommy Trinder, Betty Grable, Esther Williams, Danny Thomas, Doris Day, Jeanette MacDonald, Lana Turner, Dan Dailey, and of course many, many more.
There are of course detailed reviews of well-known musicals like "Annie Get Your Gun" (1950), "Broadway Serenade" (1957), "Funny Face" (1957), "Funny Girl" (1968), "Invitation to the Dance" (1957), "Jazz Singer" (1953), "Kiss Me Kate" (1953), "The Merry Widow" (1952), "The Mikado" (1939), "Miss Sadie Thompson" (1953), "Moulin Rouge" (1953), "Night and Day" (1946), "The Red Shoes" (1948), "The Road to…" movies, "Singin’ in the Rain" (1952), "A Song Is Born" (1948), "The Sound of Music" (1965), "Thoroughly Modern Millie" (1967), "The Ziegfeld Follies" (1946), plus the perennial "White Christmas" (1954).
Also included are oddities like "In the Navy" with Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Dick Powell, Dick Foran and the Andrews Sisters; "Minstrel Man" with Benny Fields (which Reid regards as the best "B" musical ever made); Walt Disney's "Jungle Book"; "My Friend, Irma" with John Lund, Diana Lynn, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis; and Charles Chaplin’s "Limelight". In all, 139 movies are reviewed, ranging from "Glorifying the American Girl" (1929) to "Robin Hood" (1973), when this great movie genre had more than run its course.
There is much to be gained from this book for the dedicated movie musical fan. I loaned the book to a friend who is somewhat of a movie musical authority. He rated the book highly and thought the detail and comments were "spot on!" In fact, there were even details that he was unaware of. As John Howard Reid points out, many of these movies were made in color, but some were filmed in black-and-white. Also some of the stars singing or performing were dubbed by famous musicians. In "You Were Meant for Me", for instance, Dan Dailey’s alto sax was dubbed by Russ Cheever. In "Song of Love", both Katharine Hepburn's and Paul Henreid's piano solos were actually played by Arthur Rubinstein.
All the actors for each movie are listed, plus the production staff, release dates in various countries, story synopses, copyright dates, running times. In addition, John Howard Reid provides not only one, but several or more reviewers’ comments.
I repeat: This book is a must for the movie buff.
Roy Salmons in INTERNATIONAL MOVIE MAKING
John Howard Reid's movie books go from strength to strength. If you collect classic movies on film or DVD, or if you just enjoy reading about them, then these are the books for you. Written by a true enthusiast, these classic books include such titles as "Hollywood Movie Musicals", "Movies Magnificent: 150 Must-See Cinema Classics", "These Movies Won No Hollywood Awards: A Film-Lover's Guide to the Best of the Rest", "CinemaScope 3: Hollywood Takes the Plunge", "America's Best, Britain's Finest: A Survey of Mixed Movies", "New Light on Movie Bests", and a round-up of " 'B' Movies, Bad Movies, Good Movies".
These books are crammed full of facts about each selection of films, including stars and the characters they play, synopses and critiques. There are many illustrations. All the books in this series have full color front and back covers, with black-and-white photos inside. Paper size is large format. John Howard Reid is to be congratulated!
Want to review or comment on this
Click here to login!
Need a FREE Reader Membership?
Click here for your Membership!