LOESSER IS MORE

Yet do much less, so much less….Well, less is more. –Robert Browning, from his poem titled Andrea del Sarto

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The phrase “Less is more” was popularized by architect Ludwig Miles van der Rohe (1886-1969), but goes back to at least 1855, when Robert Browning penned it in the poem quoted above. I bring it up here because today is the birthday (6/29/1910-7/25/69) of a Loesser who is more: Frank Loesser, a ‘more better’ song and lyric writer than the past majority of his contemporaries….worthy, in other words, of being remembered on this day.

In the spirit of “less is more,” I’m going to skip over the particulars of the Loesser life (if interested, here’s a link to bio info: http://frankloesser.com/bio/ ). I also recommend a delightful Loesser biography written by his daughter, Susan Loesser, titled A MOST REMARKABLE FELLA: Frank Loesser and the Guys and Dolls in His Life.

Here, I would like to spotlight songs from Loesser musicals I particularly enjoy, starting with this rockin’ tune from my favorite Loesser musical, GUYS AND DOLLS:

Continuing, how’s about we MAKE A MIRACLE (from the musical WHERE’S CHARLEY?):

Perhaps I’m pressing my luck to squeeze in one more song, but I BELIEVE IN YOU*

*from HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING

My business here is done. I hope I’ve succeeded in entertaining you….with really trying.

 

 

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WELL(ES) SAID

“My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four….unless there are three other people.” –Orson Welles (in his obese later years)

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Today being the birthday (5/6/1915) of the great director/actor Orson Welles, I’m going to risk repeating myself by repeating myself….with a few selections (including the following clip) from a past post acclaiming Welles and his role in the classic film THE THIRD MAN:

To those who think the likes of this 1949 film has appeal only for seniors (like me), I’d say such films are called classic because they’re ageless, not made to capitalize on what’s ‘in’ at the moment. To demonstrate, here is a non-senior citizen explaining why she loves it:

Of Welles, the man grown from “boy genius,” much has been written, but I won’t go into the details of his life/legend here — they can be readily culled by clicking this link https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orson_Welles (or less readily culled from recommended books like ORSON WELLES, a 562 page biography by Barbara Leaming). Instead, I will call on some of the wisdom he left behind….and I quote:

Even if the good old days never existed, the fact that we can conceive such a world is, in fact, a confirmation of the human spirit.

Living in the lap of luxury isn’t bad except that you never know when luxury is going to stand up.

I don’t pray because I don’t want to bore God.

Race hate isn’t human nature; race hate is the abandonment of human nature.

Don’t give them what they think they want. Give them what they never thought was possible.

We’re born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we’re not alone.

When people accept breaking the law as normal, something happens to the whole society.

Well(es) said, I’d say.

 

 

 

MORE “WHO KNEW THEY COULD SING?” STARS

My last post included a clip of Bette Davis singing — adding to previous clips of Golden Age Hollywood stars Jimmy Stewart and Alan Ladd, who few knew could sing. But wait! There’s more! Thanks to the magic of the silver screen, I’ve uncovered more black & white clips of bygone Hollywood heartthrobs who sang like nobody’s business, and I’ve made it my business to offer the first of these hidden gems to you for a song (and dance):

Thank you, Fred Astaire (alias Clark Gable). Next, we have another hunk from OUT OF THE PAST, Robert Mitchum, whose very next picture, RACHEL AND THE STRANGER (1948), includes this scene with co-stars Loretta Young and William Holden:

We bring down the curtain on this triple feature with that devil-may-care swashbuckler and fun-hero of such films as CAPTAIN BLOOD, THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD, and THE SEA HAWK, Errol Flynn:

What’s that you say — you didn’t get your bloody money’s worth?  Well, that’s a laugh. You should thank your lucky stars for what you jolly well get!

 

 

THREE FOR THE SHOW

It’s not every day that it’s the birthday of three ‘giants’ of Hollywood’s Golden Age, but this is such a day: Bette Davis, born April 5, 1908; Gregory Peck, born April 5, 1916; and Spencer Tracy, born April 5, 1900.

This post will not go into biographical detail. The lives of these legends can easily be Googled by anyone who’s interested. Instead, I will focus on something about each of them which I (and, hopefully, you) find particularly interesting or appealing.

In previous posts, I included clips of two film stars singing — Jimmy Stewart and Alan Ladd — who few knew ever sang in a movie. To those unlikely vocalists, I add the Oscar-winning actress BETTE DAVIS, whose fourth & final husband, Gary Merrill, once said, “whatever Bette would have chosen to do in life, she would have had to be the top or she couldn’t have endured it.” I think you will find this WWII-era vocal more than endurable:

In his 1979 book THE WORLD’S GREAT MOVIE STARS AND THEIR FILMS, Ken Wlaschin says GREGORY PECK “has been the Great Liberal of the American cinema for more than 30 years because he usually conveys conflicts in social values, forced to act in a manner disturbing to his inner morality.” He is perhaps best remembered for his role as Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird. Here he is with Audrey Hepburn in a scene from one of my favorite Peck films, Roman Holiday:

Last but not priest (overlooking his role as Father Flanagan in Boys’ Town — pardon the pun), we have “the actors’ actor,” Spencer Tracy. I’ve covered Tracy before (in my 6/5/17 post as the star of Bad Day at Black Rock); for this post, I’ll go with this retrospective:

For me, the most memorable moment from that clip is his answer to this Burt Reynolds question:

“Mr. Tracy, you’re so good at everything. Is there anything you’re not good at?”

“Life.”

 

WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH AND ALL THAT JAZZ (PART II)

In this follow-up to my previous post, rather than go into a more detailed history which might bore those with only a passing interest in classic jazz and pop music of the period, I’ve decided to stick to clips of the era’s all-girl bands, with minimum commentary.

Some of you may recall that I once published a post with a clip of Jimmy Stewart, of all people, singing. Here’s a clip of an all-girl band featuring a vocal by another actor you’ve probably never heard sing:

Speaking of “never heard,” here’s an all-girl band even I had never heard before:

Last but luscious, jazz writer George T. Simon called this gal “Without a doubt, the sexiest of all the big bandleaders….waving her baton in a languorous, seductive sort of way [and] weaving her torso in her magnificent, undulating manner,” INA RAY HUTTON (if you were hoping for more, stay tuned for the announcement at the close of the clip):

Z END (AT LAST)

With Z 26th letter of Z alphabet/26th post of this series, we come equally to Z end of both. This calls for Z celebration….so “Come wiz me to ze Casbah” and we make sweet music together. Z girl songs, zey may be few, but zat does not mean we need end on Z sour note.

Ah, ze Casbah in old ALGIERS — where French-turned-American actor Charles Boyer famously put the above Come to ze Casbah come-on on the beautiful Hedy Lamarr….or did he? To answer zat question, you must comme see for yourself:

http://www.tcm.com/this-month/article/121579%7C0/Algiers.html

Comme saw?

But I digress from the music, for which we turn first to beautiful American-turned-French (due to racism in America) entertainer, Josephine Baker:

We turn next to one of England’s finest (and one of my favorite) composers, Noel Coward, whose urbane, wistful lyrics graced such great songs as A ROOM WITH A VIEW and….

And now we come to the song I referred to (in reply to a comment to my previous post) as, strictly speaking, not qualified for this post….the reason being that it starts with T. However, the T is silent; for all intents and purposes, and in a pronounced way, it’s a Z song….and a rousing, joyous one it is, for “Dawn will find us laughing in the sunlight, dancing, dancing, dancing with my Tzena”:

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This is my last post until after the holidays, as this series has been music to my ears at the expense of other demands and endeavors (once I got on a roll, I got caught up in posting every third day despite not intending such frequency). Now, before catching up becomes the impossible dream, it behooves me to hustle while I work at getting around to tackling those other endeavors….such as catching some more Zs.

If I’m too sound asleep to be ‘alarmed’ by all this by the end of the year, wake me when it’s over.

Y ME, LORD

Friends, if you Xpected an X post after my W post, U haven’t been paying attention, because as I’ve previously Xplained, X is out. Even X post facto, there is no X factor here. Y? There are no old songs with girls named X in the title, that’s Y. That’s Y U C Y here.

Now that we got that straightened out, a word to the Ys: even if I were a Ys man (or a Ys guy, for that matter), I am not Ys enough to know more than one or two Y girl songs. So let’s start with that, and then, if necessary, I’ll pray for God’s help to find another Y song.

Sorry I asked, Lord. I could have done without that last one.