Friday, May 3, 2019

BING'S BIRTHDAY MOVIE: Here Is My Heart (1934)


"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.

Bing Crosby

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.












13 comments:

  1. REGINALD OWEN was in MARY POPPINS and BEDKNOBS AND BROOMSTICKS for the DISNEY company. I saw on imdb that he was in THE SECRET GARDEN(1949) but I don't remember what kind of part he played. ANGELA LANSBURY was the star of BEDKNOBS and DEAN STOCKWELL and MARGARET OBRIEN were guest stars(not in the same episode) of MURDER, SHE WROTE with Angela. It goes around!

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  2. I meant to say that Dean and Margaret were in THE SECRET GARDEN. They are both still with us (in their eighties) and Angela is 93.

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    1. Reginald Owen played the gardener in The Secret Garden. That is such a lovely movie, and book. Have you seen Mary Poppins Returns? David Warner plays Owen's role of Admiral Boom.

      I loved that snooty critic Dean Stockwell played on Murder, She Wrote. That was such fun. Jessica trapped him like she was Columbo!

      Mary Crosby guested on Murder, She Wrote twice. I can't tell if our circle is getting wider or shorter.

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  3. Kinda looks like it could be a Fred Astaire movie.

    I know this is Bing’s day, but can I say a word or two about Roland Young? Ever since I wrote about TOPPER, I’ve gained an appreciation of this guy and his physical comedy skills. I see he’s fourth-billed. Does he get to do a lot here?

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    1. Indeed. Every moment Roland Young is onscreen is golden. Of the royal lay-abouts he is the top character and as amusing as we would expect.

      According to vol. 1 of Gary Giddens biography of Bing, he and Kitty were both in awe of their co-stars and excited to be working with them.

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  4. I haven't seen the new MARY POPPINS movie. I looked up the credits of DAVID WARNER and they are quite impressive! Before I looked them up I remembered the PERRY MASON movie THE CASE OF THE SKIN-DEEP SCANDAL where he played the gentleman friend of TIPPI HEDREN. He was in an earlier PERRY MASON movie THE CASE OF THE POISONED PEN. He also guest-starred on MURDER,SHE WROTE twice. I saw the one where GRADY & DONNA were house sitting for his aunt(J.B. of course). Also there were 5 DESPERADO western movies with ALEX MCARTHUR as DUELL MCCALL on NBC. MR. WARNER was in the first one.

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    1. I'm glad they kept that character of Admiral Boom. It is fun to see an actor like David Warner through the decades. The hubby and I get to say things like "Why does he look older and we don't."

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  5. I do so love your posts! Thank you!

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  6. I had already decided that I was going to post that BING CROSBY was in HIGH SOCIETY with FRANK SINATRA, GRACE KELLY and CELESTE HOLM. It was a remake of PHILADELPHIA STORY with CARY GRANT, JIMMY STEWART, KATHARINE HEPBURN and RUTH HUSSEY. I looked up the credits of Roland Young on imdb to see if I had seen any of his movies. I knew I had seen his name before. ROLAND was in PHILADELPHIA STORY as UNCLE WILLIE! So Roland was in the original and BING was in the remake! (Also the main reason the name ROLAND YOUNG looked familiar was because I had read about TOPPER.)

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    1. Roland Young was an extraordinarily fine comic actor. Ruggles of Red Gap is another of my favourites, and And Then There Were None from the Christie story.

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  7. This sounds like such a charming film. And I'm always astonished at the great casts Old Hollywood could assemble in seemingly the blink of an eyelash for any and all movies (Alison Skipworth, Reginald Owen, Roland Young, Arthur Housman, William Frawley--AND Bing and Kitty!)--it's always such a feast to watch!

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    1. It's true. The talent pool was very deep and the younger actors, if they understood anything about their craft, could learn a lot from the old pros.

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