OH, THE JOY! OH, THE JOY!

“After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.” –Aldous Huxley

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I consider myself to be both a lover of ‘adult’ music and a pretty fair writer, but I’ve never felt capable of being an authoritative writer about music. For example, when I listen to music that moves me, I’m at a loss for words to express why it does so — case in point, the joy of re-experiencing this clip which I’d posted once before (OH, THE JOY! on 7/21/15):

I’ve played this clip several times, and it draws me in every time. Why? Is it the power of the music, the build-up of the way it’s staged, my identification with the gathering crowd, especially the children, reacting like they can’t resist the allure of beckoning Christmas or birthday presents? Beats me.

Speaking of Christmas and birthdays, Dec. 16 is the birthday not only of ODE TO JOY composer LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN, but of another composer (as well as playwright, singer, actor, etc.) whose sophisticated songs are always like Christmas presents to my ears, NOEL COWARD. Here, from the 1933 Academy Award-winning best picture CAVALCADE, is one of my favorite Noel Coward songs:

But wait — there’s more! What’s more, I saved it more or less as the best(?) for last. I refer to none other than YOSEMITE SAM, who made his entrance into the world in STAGE DOOR CARTOON on Dec. 16, 1944. So, without further ado, I present for your listening pleasure, my man Sam performing a looney tune which is, without question, the most magnum opus of merry melodies since Ode To Joy (eat your heart out, Ludwig):

So, if you were born tomorrow (Dec. 16) and haven’t yet joined your birthday brothers in pursuing musical fame and fortune, I hope you will take note and give it a shot.

That’s all, folks!

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KISS HER IN THE KISSER AND MAKE UP

My formula for living is quite simple. I get up in the morning and I go to bed at night. In between, I occupy myself as best I can. –Cary Grant

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August 25 is KISS AND MAKE UP DAY. In the Cary Grant spirit of occupying myself as best I can, I thought I’d present an assemblage of good old-fashioned “kiss and make up” goodies (the idea being, if you don’t love my premise, you can kiss my assortment). Let’s start with Cary’s take on make-up, which (as you can see) I’m not making up:

Well, apparently Cary never did make up with that gal, because here he is two years later, singing another love song to another gal:

It seems that Cary would rather play the field than kiss and make up. Let us therefore pick a dilly of a ditty less playboy-like in character:

So much for the guys. I give the last word to the gals (they usually have it anyway):

Kiss and make up — but too much makeup has ruined many a kiss. –Mae West

Kiss & make up. Maybe making out for a few minutes would help us figure things out. –Katie Anderson

In trying to get our own way, we should remember that kisses are sweeter than whine. –Ann Nonymous

THE BARD ON THE DONALD

My April 22 post (MARK TWAIN ON DONALD TRUMP) was so well received that I’ve decided to give that theme (of holding up a mirror to The Tempest of Trumpian self-glorification) another go….this time, with the reflections of an even greater giant of literature: the Bard of Avon taking aim at the target of Twain and giving us his measure of the Tweeter of Twaddle. So, in case you haven’t given The Bard a second thought of late: straight from TAMING OF THE SHREW (filmed as KISS ME KATE), what say you….

and we’ll all know how….the Bard’s words speak to the Iago of Mar-a-Lago:

Time shall unfold what plighted cunning hides. Who cover faults, at last shame them derides.

False face must hide what the false heart doth know.

Go to your bosom: Knock there, and ask your heart what it doth know.

God has given you one face, and you make yourself another.

It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.

When we are born we cry that we are come to this great stage of fools.

 

 

 

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.”

 

A com-POSE-r BY ANY OTHER NAME…. (Part 1 of 2)

Tomorrow, Feb. 15, is the birthday of one of America’s greatest composers of popular songs, Hyman Arluck. Hyman WHO, you ask? Never heard of him? If you’re a fan of America’s Golden Age of Popular Music, this song of his is probably one of your favorites:

….not to mention this one:

You say you thought those songs were composed by HAROLD ARLEN?
From what I hear, no doubt they was….
because…because…because…because…
of the wonderful whiz he was.
But before a wonderful whiz he was, he was Hyman Arluck, so born on Feb. 15, 1905. If you were fooled, you should be grateful because, as Arlen (nee Arluck) notes in another of his songs, it’s….

Speaking of which, I thought it might be fun (for me, anyway) to fool around with a selection of birth names of other great Golden Age songwriters (each of them listed with one of their most popular songs), followed by a list of their noms de plume in scrambled order. Unless you Arluck-y, you’ll probably be unable to correctly pair more than 70% of the names (but at least half are guessable even if you don’t know them):

a. Israel Baline (HOW DEEP IS THE OCEAN?)
b. Benjamin Anzelwitz (SWEET GEORGIA BROWN)
c. C. K. Dober (BARNEY GOOGLE)
d. Vladimir Dukelsky (APRIL IN PARIS)
e. Charles N. Daniels (CHLOE)
f. Albert Gumm (TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALLGAME)
g. Johnny Kluczko (RACING WITH THE MOON)
h. Edward Chester Babcock (LOVE AND MARRIAGE)
i. Andrea Razafkeriefo (MEMORIES OF YOU)
j. William Samuel Rosenberg (I’VE GOT A FEELING I’M FALLING)

1. Albert Von Tilzer
2. Irving Berlin
3. Ben Bernie
4. Con Conrad
5. Vernon Duke
6. Neil Moret
7. Billy Rose
8. Andy Razaf
9. Jimmy Van Heusen
10. Johnny Watson

In Part 2, I’ll post the answers plus clips of a few of the above songs. Meanwhile, if you’d like to hear one of the songs in particular, comments are open — please make a request. I’ve got a feeling I’m filling it.