Monday, May 3, 2021

BING'S BIRTHDAY MOVIE: Just for You, 1952

Bing Crosby stars as Jordan Blake, a successful producer, composer, director, andentertainer. A widower for ten years, romance has entered his life in the form of musical star Carolina Hill played by Jane Wyman. Blake has not intentionally neglected his children, it is simply that he has been a very busy man and suddenly they are growing out of childhood, and he is suddenly aware that his relationships with Jerry played by Robert Arthur and Barbara played by Natalie Wood are rocky at best or at their worst, non-existent.

Robert Arthur, Natalie Wood, Bing Crosby

Jerry wants to write music and get out from under the shadow of his acclaimed parent. Jerry is experienced love for the first time, and the object of his affection is Carolina Hill whom he believes returns his love. Jerry is so blinded by it all that he doesn't see the relationship between Carolina and his father.

Barbara's problem is less troublesome than Jerry's. We are told that she has been "hard on governesses" and the latest one, Miss Angevine played by Cora Witherspoon is a tippler. However, Miss Angevine has put in Barbara's head the notion of the benefits of an exclusive girl's school, St. Hilary's. Barbara sees in such an institution the guidance her life has lacked and the joyful camaraderie of peers. 

Ethel Barrymore, Bing Crosby

Barbara's problem is easily solved when her father makes the acquaintance of St. Hilary's headmistress Miss de Bronkhart played by Ethel Barrymore. The school isn't as deadset against "show biz folk" as they had been led to believe. Jerry's broken heart will not be so easily mended. He must find his own way.

The emotional crux of the movie relies on Robert Arthur as Jerry and he shoulders the burden well. Natalie Wood, at 12 years of age, seems to have skipped the awkward stage that plagues youngsters. She had some inner magic, not attributable to Hollywood magic. Jane Wyman is bubbly and caring as the musical star, wearing the best of Edith Head gowns and seemingly having a grand time. Bing, as always, makes it look oh-so-easy.

Songs in Just for You, including the title ballad are by Harry Warren and Leo Robin. Production numbers from Blake's hit show showcase talented dancers choreographed by Helen Tamiris and beautifully costumed. 

Jane Wyman, Julie Newmar in the background, Bing Crosby

Zing a Little Zong is a catchy tune and presented at a party to celebrate opening night. Bing and Jane appear to be having almost as much fun as they did with the Oscar winner In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening in the previous year's Here Comes the Groom. In fact, the new song did get itself an Oscar nomination, losing to Dimitri Tiomkin and Paul Francis Webster's Ballad of High Noon. Click on the link above to enjoy the song from the movie and give yourself a bonus point for spotting Julie Newmar (in the photo above), her first year in the movies. She is easy to spot in the big dance production numbers.


Bing Crosby, Jane Wyman

Just for You is a sumptuous treat for the eyes thanks to George Barnes Technicolor cinematography, and a treasure of mid-century design in sets and costumes. Robert Carson's (A Star is Born) screenplay is based on Famous, a short story by Stephen Vincent Benet. 

Elliott Nugent (The Male Animal) directed the movie, the final of three with Bing Crosby including She Loves Me Not, 1934, and Welcome, Stranger, 1947 (plus Bing's cameo in My Favorite Brunette, 1947).

Bonus treat:

Here's Bing and Ben Lessy performing a little number at the St. Hilary's tea and recital. On the 10:10 (from Ten-Ten-Tennessee).











8 comments:

  1. Wow, Ethel Barrymore in color!

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    Replies
    1. I like to surprise you with things you never thought you would see.

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  2. I think this is a fun film! I'll admit, the "Zing A Little Zong" song sticks with me the most of all the music, but it's fun (and, unless I'm wrong, the Bob Hope film "Son Of Paleface" borrowed some footage from this movie for Bing's "cameo" in that film)!

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    Replies
    1. I believe you are right about that cameo. Life would be so much better in Technicolor.

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  3. Bing and Jane Wyman were a great team. And anytime we have Ethel Barrymore in the cast is good. I haven't seen this one in years. Thanks for the reminder, it's time I visited it again.

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  4. I find difficult to like Robert Arthur's character, but otherwise agree that Just for You is a light, breezy entertainment. And yes, "Zing a Little Zong" is zatchy and the zost zemorable zong in the zovie!

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