"Bing Crosby is something more than a crooner; he is a comedian with a perfect sense of timing."
- New York Daily News review
A 1924 play by Alfred Savoir called (translation) The Grand Duchess and the Floor Boy inspired Paramount's 1934 musical release, Here is My Heart. Bing Crosby is our star and Frank Tuttle (Waikiki Wedding) our director with Karl "Sunrise" Struss, as we refer to him in this house, behind the camera. Tuttle and Crosby collaborated on 7 pictures, and Struss and Crosby worked together 10 times.
"And when I sleep you keep my heart awake..."
I love that lyric from Ralph Rainger and Leo Robin's With Every Breath I Take, a popular recording for Bing introduced in this movie. June in January is another hit from the movie that is showcased to good effect. Lewis E. Gensler and Leo Robin's dandy up-tempo Love is Just Around the Corner is the final of three tunes that enliven the film.
Bing plays J. Paul Jones, a popular radio singer who has made his first million and is traveling the world fulfilling his childhood dreams. One of those dreams involves an antique dueling pistol that had belonged to John Paul Jones, the hero of the Revolutionary War. Our Paul owns one and the other is at Monte Carlo in the possession of a dispossessed Russian Princess.
Princess Alexandra played by Kitty Carlisle is a haughty royal who has no intention of selling the relic to a commoner. Paul is ready to tell her a thing or two until he realizes she is the attractive girl he saw in the hotel elevator who wouldn't give him a tumble. Of course, you know this means war - um, I mean, love.
Paul is convinced there is a nice girl beneath all the "royal", although the script doesn't give Carlisle a chance to back up that theory. Nonetheless, Paul pursues the romantic angle by becoming the permanent waiter to Princess Alexandra and her entourage of relatives. The group is currently without funds or the means of obtaining ready folding money. Paul has plenty of the stuff; enough to buy the hotel!
Roland Young, Reginald Owen
The freeloading Russians are played by Alison Skipworth as Countess Rostova, Roland Young as Prince Nikki, and Reginald Owen as Prince Vladimir. Expert actors who slip these characters on as if they were familiar old gloves. William Frawley is in the cast as a newshound pal of Paul's. Charles Arnt is Paul's butler and one gets the feeling there must be stuff with him on a cutting room floor somewhere that would have been fun to see. Akim Tamiroff is the hotel manager and Arthur Housman a soused waiter. Canadian Cecilia Parker, three years away from The Hardy Family series, is Suzette, the Princess's maid, who admires a man who can sing.
Bing Crosby, Akim Tamiroff
When Paul puts forward the idea that these pretentious guests should actually pay for the service they have been receiving, the hotel manager is aghast.
Manager: "You can't insult royalty."
Paul: "Well, we can certainly try."
The art direction by Hans Dreier (Sunset Blvd.) and Ernst Fegte (Frenchman's Creek) created a fantastical Monte Carlo hotel with pillars, statues, impossibly wide hallways, and elevator cages of wrought iron curlicues. I can't say of my own knowledge that this is not what a Monte Carlo hotel of the 1930s looked, but I assume it is the result of creative imaginations and a hefty studio budget.
Bing Crosby, Kitty Carlisle
Travis Banton was in charge of the gowns and Kitty Carlisle was born to wear his elegant designs. Alison Skipworth is beautifully draped as well, and it brings me to one of those goofs you catch now and then in a film. The Countess is wearing one dress, a charming black lace dinner gown with pearls when first glimpsed through an open door, yet when she is speaking with the Princess on the balcony a moment later, the Countess is in a silk flowered number. When they are served dinner by the waiter, she's back in the black. Continuity fell down on the job.
Everyone else was wide awake as Here is My Heart takes us through the romantic comedy complications and the humour and songs at which Bing excelled. The old pros combined with the young talent are a treat in this briskly paced gem from early in Bing's movie career.