Wednesday, June 25, 2014


Bing Crosby guru Bruce Kogan is back to review another Bing film - Mr. Music. This forgotten 1950 film has always been a guilty pleasure Bing movie with me...

When this film first came out in 1950 it was like Babe Ruth hitting a double. The score by Burke-Van Heusen is serviceable for Crosby, a couple of nice numbers. In fact the best number in the movie is And You'll Be Home, sung at a college assembly by Bing who is later joined by the whole ensemble. Unfortunately it occurs in the first 20 minutes of the movie so then it's downhill.

Bing plays a golf loving composer who's lost his muse and would rather spend more time on the links and at the track then working. His producer, Charles Coburn, hires Nancy Olson who is a graduating student from Bing's alma mater as a secretary to keep Bing's nose to the grind- stone. That has complications for Bing's steady, Ruth Hussey and Olson's inamorata, Robert Stack. Suffice it to say that everyone winds up with someone in the end.

It's a show business story, but not one like those Judy Garland-Mickey Rooney let's put on a show. We got some sophisticated folks in this story, not the usual kind who Bing hangs around with in the normal course of his films. A whole lot of the film action takes place in Bing's Park Avenue penthouse and Crosby looks a little lost there. He has some funny moments with Ida Moore, Tom Ewell, and Richard Haydn.

Of course a show is the highlight of the film and one awkward moment comes when Charles Coburn is amazed at some of the show business types Bing's obtained the services for a preview of his new Broadway show. At one point Coburn remarks to Crosby, "there's Dorothy Kirsten of the Metropolitan Opera" like he doesn't know who she is. But the audience probably doesn't. Still it looks so phony when the next performer they run into is Groucho Marx. No one thought of giving Coburn a line like "there's Groucho Marx of the Marx Brothers."

Speaking of Groucho he and Crosby sing a duet of Life Is So Peculiar which Bing had sang earlier in the movie with Peggy Lee. The film should be seen for both versions of this number also.

If you love Bing as I do or if you want to see him sing with Groucho Marx and Peggy Lee by all means see this film...


Tuesday, June 17, 2014


Bing was very athletic, but I never realized he made it to a Wheaties ad! He had to share it with Bob Hope in 1950. By the way, I always hated the taste of Wheaties, and it never made me any more athletic!

Friday, June 6, 2014


Former child star Mona Freeman has died, aged 87. She also dated Bing Crosby around the 1953/1954 period after Bing's wife died of cancer in 1952. 
The actress, who starred in films like The Heiress, Dear Ruth and I Was a Shoplifter in the 1940s and 1950s, passed away at her home in Beverly Hills on Friday (06 Jun14), according to the Los Angeles Times. She was battling an illness for a long time, and had been retired from movies for decades.
Her movie credits also include Till We Meet, Again Together Again, Mother Wore Tights, Streets of Laredo and Angel Face, while her Tv roles included appearances in Maverick, Perry Mason and Wagon Train.
The fresh-faced star played teenagers onscreen throughout her twenties and then quit to become a portrait painter.
Her daughter Monnie Ellis, who confirmed the sad news of her mother's death, starred in the 1972 Tv movie Gidget Gets Married. She was survived by her daughter and grandchildren....


Bing Crosby was one of the biggest movie stars of all-time. He was the number one box office draw from 1945 to 1949. After his contract with Paramount Studios was over in 1956, Bing moved away from making movies and concentrated on raising his second family. However, even in Bing's "golden years" he did make an occasional movie. One of his last screen appearances was in the television movie Dr Cook's Garden on ABC television in 1971. Bing was 68 at the time the movie came out.

Dr. Cook's Garden was originally a Broadway play written by Ira Levin. It premiered on Broadway in 1967 with a cast including Burl Ives and Keir Dullea. George C. Scott was meant to direct but was replaced during rehearsals by Levin. When the play was made for television Bing took over the Burl Ives roles as a seemingly friendly elderly doctor. Frank Converse plays the young doctor that looks up to Bing, and a young Blythe Danner plays Bing's secretary and Converse's love interest. Originally airing as the ABC "Movie of the Week", Dr. Cook's Garden seems more relevant with the passage of time with the real world bringing us Doctor Kevorkian types in the decades since.

Der Bingle is a kindly G.P. in a Greenfield, arguably the most beloved person in this idyllic area. How idyllic? The town boats a very low crime rate and few unpleasant citizens. Greenfield is about to host recent medical school graduate Converse, returning to visit high school sweetheart Danner and mentor Crosby. The budding young doctor is pleasantly surprised by his home town's evolution into a paradise---and increasingly concerned about the number of abrupt, mysterious deaths occuring in heavenly Greenfield. Crosby's Dr. Cook is calm and rationalizing as his describes the thought he puts into his decisions, and admits that marking the "R" is always difficult for him. His unfailing composure adds creepiness that helps make up for the missing uncertainty and almost raises this otherwise average tale into the must-see category.

Two decades before Alec Baldwin brazenly declared himself God in Malice, Crosby let actions speak louder than his downright humble words possibly could, giving us a thriller more than interesting enough to watch despite its deficiencies. By 1971, Bing was no longer the leading man who made Dorothy Lamour or Mary Carlisle swoon with the notes of his beautiful voice. At an age now when many people were retired, Bing could pick and choose what movies he wanted to make. I am glad he picked the role of Dr. Cook. Some of the dialogue is as dated as a 1971 television movie, but I think Bing should have done more dramas. He definitely had the acting chops to do so. The ending of the movie is completely different than the ending of any other Bing Crosby movie, and Dr. Cook's Garden proved that Bing still had "IT" at the age of 68...