Tagged: Robert Benchley Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • mistermuse 12:00 am on November 23, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , Harpo Marx, , Paul Simon, , Robert Benchley, silence is golden, silent films, , The Sound of Silence,   

    THE SOUND OF SILENTS 

    You sure you can’t move? –what Harpo Marx “said” to the tied-up hero (Richard Dix) before punching him in the 1925 film TOO MANY KISSES (fortunately, the film survived)

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    Italicized above are the only words ever “spoken” (but not heard) on film by the man whose birthday we note today, HARPO MARX. The audience didn’t hear those five words because the film was a “silent” — “talkies” didn’t come on the scene until 1927, two years before the first of thirteen Marx Brothers movies (1929-49). Harpo spoke in none of them.

    But why, oh why-o, should I try-o to “bio” Harpo, when here-o you can click on the official thing from his offspring:

    https://www.harposplace.com/

    Because Harpo associated with Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley and other wits in the famed Algonquin Round Table repartee, I expected to turn up a number of witty Harpo Marx quotes for this piece. No such luck — I found only one I enjoyed enough to post here (both the “she” referred to in the quote, and who it is addressed to, are unknown):

    “She’s a lovely person. She deserves a good husband. Marry her before she finds one.”

    One quote being three quotes short of a gallon, I shall return to giving you “the silent treatment” with a quota of four quotes of silence said by forethoughtful others:

    “Listen to the sound of silence.” –Paul Simon, American singer, songwriter, and actor

    “Silence is golden unless you have kids, then it’s just plain suspicious.” –anonymous

    “If nobody ever said anything unless he knew what he was talking about, what a ghastly hush would descend upon the earth!” –A. P. Herbert, English humorist, writer, and politician

    “I believe in the discipline of silence and can talk for hours about it.” –George Bernard Shaw, Irish playwright and critic

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    Since I didn’t give Harpo the last word, I’ll let him give his audience the last laugh….and though he doesn’t speak, you’ll hear captivating sounds escape his lips 2:42 into this clip:

    Bravo, Harpo!

    EPILOGUE: Listen — 90+ years after the “silents” ended*, you can still hear….

    *with the exception of two Charlie Chaplin masterpieces in the 1930s, CITY LIGHTS and MODERN TIMES

     
    • calmkate 4:24 am on November 23, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      wow Harpo is actually playing that harp! Love his whistle 🙂
      SnG’s song is a real favourite … thanks for the memories!

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 9:25 am on November 23, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        You’re welcome, Kate. I too love Harpo’s whistling in the Marx Brothers Musical clip, and I can’t imagine anyone not loving Simon & Garfunkel’s THE SOUND OF SILENCE (except Trump, who is incapable of appreciating the sound of silence if you paid him).

        Liked by 2 people

        • calmkate 5:09 pm on November 23, 2019 Permalink

          doubt he even knows what ‘silence’ means … not much between his ears except fluffy hair!

          Liked by 1 person

        • Don Ostertag 8:40 pm on November 23, 2019 Permalink

          When i am in a funk I watch a Marx Brothers movie or listen to a favorite song like Sound of Silence.

          Liked by 1 person

    • masercot 7:47 am on November 23, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      I’m a HUGE Marx Brothers fan.

      Harpo adopted several children because he and his wife couldn’t have any of their own. His aim was, in his words, when he got home he’d have a child looking at him “from every window”…

      Liked by 2 people

      • mistermuse 9:35 am on November 23, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        Likewise about the Marx Brothers. If they had made no other films than A NIGHT AT THE OPERA and DUCK SOUP, they would still be remembered forever (I hope).

        Liked by 2 people

        • masercot 8:32 am on November 24, 2019 Permalink

          My favorite, not to be contrary, is A Day at the Races. Why? The great jazz number in the middle of the movie as well as the Tootsie-Frootsie Ice Cream Scene…

          Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 10:01 am on November 24, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        Although Races isn’t my fav Marx Bros. movie, I’m always up for a jazz number, though this one has a very brief “bug-eyed” shot or two that might be regarded as racist today:

        Liked by 1 person

        • masercot 10:15 am on November 24, 2019 Permalink

          I agree with that but I’ll put up with a little light racism to see a wonderful performance by a jazz artist who died far too young…

          Liked by 1 person

        • mistermuse 7:40 pm on November 24, 2019 Permalink

          I assume you’re referring to vocalist Ivie Anderson, whose gig in this film was one of her rare appearances apart from the Duke Ellington Orchestra. Her performance here (as well as on the many recording she made with the Duke) was indeed wonderful.

          Like

    • Rivergirl 8:46 am on November 23, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      My father loved the Marx brothers and I grew up on all the films. Thanks for the memories!

      Liked by 2 people

      • mistermuse 9:41 am on November 23, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        Thank you, Rg. Now I know (at least part of) why you grew up to be who you are (that’s wholly a compliment, btw).

        Liked by 1 person

    • Ashley 9:07 am on November 23, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      Amazing to see and hear Harpo playing the harp. Captivating! So much talent!

      Liked by 2 people

    • D. Wallace Peach 9:19 pm on November 23, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      “Silence is golden unless you have kids, then it’s just plain suspicious.” So true! Lol. Fun quotes and clips and a beautiful song from Paul Simon. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 10:49 pm on November 23, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        “Fun quotes and clips and a beautiful song” — three for the price of one! Who says I don’t offer bargains? Thanks for the testimonial, Diana!

        Liked by 1 person

    • magickmermaid 3:31 pm on November 25, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      Another big Marx Brothers fan here! Classic laugh fest!

      Liked by 1 person

    • tref 9:43 pm on December 1, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      Harpo playing the song “Alone” in night at the opera the very height of cinema. I could never grow tired of watching it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 11:25 pm on December 1, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        That is one of many great moments in the movie that I never tire of watching, such as the stateroom scene. The 1930s was truly the height of film making.

        Liked by 1 person

    • barkinginthedark 3:57 am on December 15, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      Priceless MM. Priceless. continue…

      Like

    • mistermuse 9:49 am on December 15, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      Thank you. I’d give your comment a Like, but it doesn’t “take” when I click it.

      Like

  • mistermuse 12:01 am on September 25, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Busy Doing Nothing, human behavior, , , party poopers, , , , Robert Benchley, , wage slaves,   

    RETIREMENT TIME 

    Hard as it may be (for me, at least) to fathom, it seems that many people approaching retirement don’t look forward to it because they don’t know what they’ll do with all the time they’ll have when they have no job. That has never struck me as a problem, what with books to be read, writing to be written, learning to be learned (unless you already know everything), trips to plan, music to enjoy, sports to follow, chores to avoid, mislaid items to look for, naps to take, etc….not to mention human behavior forever to be baffled by.

    Believe me, friends, if I had half the time my once-upon-a-time fellow wage slaves assume I have, I would be posting a post almost every day instead of once a week or so (which, I concede, may still be too often for you malcontents and party poopers out there).

    So, how busy am I?

    Oops — how did that clip get there? Fact is, I’m so busy, I don’t even have time to think of more to say about the subject….so I’ll avoid that chore by passing it on to others:

    I have never liked working. To me, a job is an invasion of privacy. –Danny McGoorty

    I’ve crunched the numbers in your retirement account. It’s time to figure out who will be wearing the mask and who will be driving the getaway car. –Unknown financial advisor

    My retirement plan is to get thrown into a minimum security prison in Hawaii. –Julius Sharpe

    I will not retire while I’ve still got my legs and my make-up box. –Bette Davis

    The trouble with retirement is that you never get a day off. –Abe Lemons

    I find the biggest trouble with having nothing to do is you can’t tell when you’re done. –Unknown

    As for me, except for an occasional heart attack, I feel as young as I ever did. –Robert Benchley

    I can’t wait to retire so I can get up at 6 a.m. and drive around real slow and make everybody late for work. –Unknown

    What do you call a person who is happy on Monday? Retired. –Unknown

    When a professional golfer retires, what does he retire to? –Evan Esar

    When you retire, you switch bosses — from the one who hired you to the one who married you. –Unknown

    Time’s up. COMING, DEAR!

     

     

     

     
    • obbverse 1:11 am on September 25, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      I still am weighed down by the joy(?) of work, so need to dole out my time, of which, there is never enough. I believe retirement will soak up all these drudgery hours wasted at work. Thanks for the light at the end of the tunnel.

      Liked by 3 people

    • calmkate 2:50 am on September 25, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      lol retirement is a struggle for the other half who already has a well established routine .. good luck with yours!

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 8:25 am on September 25, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks, Kate. Actually I’ve been retired for some time, but I can still use the good luck!

        Liked by 1 person

        • calmkate 6:36 pm on September 25, 2019 Permalink

          lol I thought you must have been … don’t I remember you telling me you were 110?

          Liked by 1 person

        • mistermuse 7:03 pm on September 25, 2019 Permalink

          Some days I feel like I’m 110, Kate — it must have been one of those days when I told you that.

          Like

      • mistermuse 5:18 pm on October 18, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        Kate, I’ve been trying repeatedly to enter a comment on your “Friday Fun – restful” post but it won’t ‘take.’ Sorry to trouble you, but here it is, if you can use it:

        Since I retired, I run from quarrels —
        because I’m resting….on my laurels.

        Liked by 1 person

        • calmkate 6:10 pm on October 18, 2019 Permalink

          just posted it, sorry about those WP gremlins, others have posted comments ok 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

    • emergingfromthedarknight 3:28 am on September 25, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      Having ‘retired’ early due to an injury I can relate to most of those quotes and I love the one on work being an invasion of privacy. I also love it when people ask me. “what do you DO all day?” They have no idea 🙂 The happy fact is the day is free to spend however your heart desires.

      Liked by 3 people

      • mistermuse 8:33 am on September 25, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        You nailed it! When people ask me “what do you DO all day?”, I feel like saying, When you retire, I’ll be more than happy if you to give me all the time you don’t know what to do with.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Ashley 4:31 am on September 25, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      Retirement is great! Busy busy busy, doing the things I like, well most of the time! When I was “working” we all used to say “have a great weekend” to each other. Nowadays the weekend lasts for at least 7 days! La la la-la-la-la, la-la, la-la, la la la la la la………
      Great post!

      Liked by 2 people

      • mistermuse 8:37 am on September 25, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks, Ashley. Among the perks of retirement is that it doesn’t matter what day of the week it is, they’re all the same. Like me, you obviously don’t have a problem with that!

        Liked by 2 people

    • masercot 5:39 am on September 25, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      I’m just trying to retire before the sun becomes a red giant and incinerates the Earth… If I live frugally, I think I can manage…

      Liked by 4 people

      • mistermuse 8:40 am on September 25, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        Even with Trump & Friends accelerating the process, you will probably still make it to retirement age. Hang in there!

        Liked by 2 people

    • Carmen 6:25 am on September 25, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      Having just retired in June (but having summers off anyway) I must say it’s been great so far! :). Hope your retirement’s been great, too!

      Liked by 2 people

      • mistermuse 8:45 am on September 25, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks, Carmen. Taking early retirement was the best decision I ever made (except, of course, for getting married, having children, and meeting you online. Keep up the good work….I mean, the good retirement!

        Like

    • Rivergirl 7:41 am on September 25, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      With my husband it’s not a lack of things to do in retirement… it’s a mixed bag of having a great paying job with wonderful benefits, enjoying the social aspect of working, having a purpose to getting up every day and the simple joy of seeing his TSP ( government version of IRA ) grow. Personally I wish he’d just chuck it all and relax!

      Liked by 2 people

      • mistermuse 8:51 am on September 25, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        If, and as long as, your hubby loves his job, I don’t blame him. It’s when your job is (or becomes) a pain in the butt that it’s time to bail ASAP.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger 7:58 am on September 25, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      Chores to avoid — I am totally on board with that.

      Good essay. See ya.

      Neil S.

      Liked by 2 people

    • D. Wallace Peach 8:39 am on September 25, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      I couldn’t agree more. Other than writing, I’m retired, and I’m so busy! As soon as my husband retires we’ll be even busier! Lol. Thanks for the laughs this morning. Great one-liners.

      Liked by 3 people

    • Christie 2:35 pm on September 25, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      Thank you for the good laugh!
      I love this one: “I can’t wait to retire so I can get up at 6 a.m. and drive around real slow and make everybody late for work”
      Enjoy your retirement!
      🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    • Rosaliene Bacchus 3:25 pm on September 25, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      Love the quote from Abe Lemons: “The trouble with retirement is that you never get a day off.” I refuse to retire and have chosen to continue writing until the “headman” says enough. I’m the boss, so I make sure that I enjoy the holidays off and do fun things on my weekend breaks.

      Liked by 2 people

      • mistermuse 7:13 pm on September 25, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        “Boss Bacchus” has a good alliterative ring to it — even better than “Rosaliene the Riveter” which you might have been called back in WW II days (not that you’re anywhere near that old, of course). 🙂

        Like

    • Elizabeth 5:49 pm on September 25, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      I love being retired. I only fear that I might flunk the question in the emergency room some day about what day it is. I often have no idea. And I try to forget the answer to who is President.

      Liked by 3 people

    • Infidel753 10:24 pm on September 27, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      I tend to agree with you. It seems to me that most people who think they’ll have nothing to do with their time when they retire must be very lacking in intellectual interests.

      Even if I’d have trouble filling up time occasionally, I don’t see why the preferred alternative would be still engaging in some form of drudgery so onerous that I would never have considered doing it if I didn’t need the money. Even being bored for a while would be preferable. At least it doesn’t sap your energy in the same way.

      Liked by 2 people

      • mistermuse 12:02 am on September 28, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        Another alternative for retirees lacking in intellectual interests, hobbies, or other pursuits would be to volunteer their time with a non-profit organization to help those in need. I would think that making oneself useful to others not only helps others, but would give purpose to one’s own life.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Silver Screenings 6:22 pm on September 28, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      These are great quotes, but the one about the professional golfer retiring made me laugh out loud.

      I’m pleased to hear your retirement seems to be a time of productiveness and fulfillment. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 7:17 pm on September 28, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        Thank you, SS. Fulfillment is something almost everyone seeks in some form or another, but attaining it in full measure is often dependent on fate and factors beyond our control. I can’t claim ‘full-fillment’– but I’m not complaining (much).

        Liked by 1 person

    • luisa zambrotta 1:01 pm on September 30, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      😉😉🤗

      Liked by 1 person

    • literaryeyes 11:08 pm on October 1, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      I like all of these. I’d like a day off, I’m busier than ever. I’ve un-retired a lot of things I wanted to do.

      Liked by 2 people

      • mistermuse 11:26 pm on October 1, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        I wish I could un-retire some of the things I wanted to do, but these old bones will no longer cooperate, so they’ll just have to stay retired. No matter — I don’t have time for them anyway (at least, that’s what my head tells me, and my body doesn’t argue….or is it the other way around?).

        Like

    • holliedoc 5:29 am on October 2, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      I started my blog in my retirement, to assist in writing down my thoughts and feelings. Originally I wasn’t sure how much I’d enjoy retirement but have since taken up learning Spanish and playing the guitar amongst other things. It’s amazing how quickly you fill up your time in retirement.

      Liked by 2 people

      • mistermuse 12:53 pm on October 3, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        You’ve got that right! My time is not only filled up, but overflowing.

        Like

    • Kally 10:22 am on October 17, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      This is simply so well written! I love it. May I reblog this out and link it back to your blog please?

      Liked by 1 person

    • Robert Smith 7:16 am on October 22, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      Relatable post! Thanks for sharing such an amazing article.

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 12:54 pm on October 22, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks, Robert. Sharing is caring, as someone once said (maybe it was me — ha ha).

      Like

    • live an untethered life 7:37 pm on November 30, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      Reblogged this on Live an Untethered Life and commented:
      I don’t intend to go from 60 to 0. I plan to leap over to a new highway and keep or increase my speed!

      Liked by 2 people

    • Paul Hannah 1:52 pm on December 25, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      Hmmm…I avoided retirement like I avoided kids with snotty noses at the grocery store. When I was finally there I saw a flat, endless plain of nothing-to-do. So just this week I started a blog, Retirement-TheSnarkSide. Now I’ve got something fun to do, once I get the hang of WordPress. Thanks Robert.

      Liked by 5 people

    • mistermuse 4:05 pm on December 25, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      Paul, I’ve been blogging on WordPress for over ten years, and I still don’t get the hang of their shenanigans (see my posts of Dec. 11th and 15th to give you an idea of one of the problems I have with WP). I hope you have more technological expertise than I, otherwise it may not be as much fun as you anticipate. In any case, good luck…..and Merry Christmas/Happy New Year.

      Like

    • holliedoc 6:07 pm on February 17, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Well if you happen to get time in your retirement, please do have a look at my retirement blog. I’d be keen to hear your thoughts and would welcome any comments on my articles.
      https://itsthetimeofyourlife.com/

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 6:53 pm on February 17, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        I attempted to leave a comment on your Nov. 25 2019 post, but apparently it didn’t take. I’ll try to give it another try when I have time, but it won’t be today.

        Like

      • mistermuse 12:15 pm on February 18, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        I tried again today to leave a comment on your Nov. 25 post, but again, it apparently didn’t go through. I’m sorry, but I’m not tech-savvy enough to figure out why, and I can’t keep wasting time trying.

        Like

        • holliedoc 5:43 pm on February 18, 2020 Permalink

          Hmm that’s a shame. I wonder why myself. I’ll have a look into why it’s not possible. Many thanks for your reply!

          Liked by 1 person

  • mistermuse 12:00 am on December 15, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , E. B. White, George S. Kaufman, , , , , optimist, , Robert Benchley, S. J. Perleman, , ,   

    PARDON MY QUOTES 

    It is easier to buy books than to read them, and easier to read them than to absorb them. –William Osler

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    Now that’s a quote I can relate to — of the near-50 books I bought at that November used book sale I wrote about recently, in 3 weeks I’ve managed to find time to read all of 2 1/2; that’s all of two books (plus half of one) traversed in 21 days, as the crow flies. At that rate, I’ll have bought 50 more books before I’ve read an iota of my quota from the last batch — and I’ve already bought ten more books since then. Nonetheless (actually all the more, both batches combined), rather than completely skip a post as I did December 5, I’ll at least try to save composing-time by posting (aka com-posting) the words of others.

    Fittingly, I’ll quote the six Masters of Wit (from my previous post) to whom Groucho Marx dedicated his book GROUCHO AND ME. The last quote below cites another timesaver some people practice, but rarely admit….however, I’ll open with Robert Benchley, who undoubtedly said the following following A Night At The Opera with the Marx Brothers:

    Opera is where a guy gets stabbed in the back, and instead of dying, he sings.
    –ROBERT BENCHLEY

    I didn’t like the play, but then I saw it under adverse conditions  — the curtain was up.
    — GEORGE S. KAUFMAN

    An optimist is a girl who mistakes a bulge for a curve.
    –RING LARDNER

    Well, if I called the wrong number, why did you answer the phone?
    –JAMES THURBER

    The fact is that all of us have only one personality, and we wring it out like a dishtowel. You are what you are.
    –S. J. PERLEMAN

    Prejudice is a great time saver. You can form opinions without having to get the facts.
    –E. B. WHITE

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    • Carmen 5:33 am on December 15, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      I always thought I was an optimist and, after reading that quote, I know for sure. 🙂 Great quotes for sure!

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 8:58 am on December 15, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Carmen, your comment threw me a curve until I went back to the quotes, and then it hit me. No problem, though — how appropriate that the “bulge” quote was made by Ring LARDner! 🙂

      Like

    • Don Frankel 7:53 pm on December 15, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      A book a week Muse that sounds about what I do. But this reminds me of a time I bought a book at Barnes and Noble and while I’m paying the woman at the counter she asks. “Would you like to join the Barnes and Noble club?” And, I explain that I buy books here and at other book stores and off of guys on the street corner and just about anywhere and I conclude that when it comes to books the term that applies to me is… and I guess you as well Muse, “promiscuous.”

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 11:19 pm on December 15, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Actually, a book a week is quite a bit more than I usually manage, Don, but I hope to pick up the pace over the winter when I don’t have grass to mow, leaves to rake, and other work around the house. Now if I could only resist buying more books for the next five years!

      Like

    • BroadBlogs 5:11 pm on December 16, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      You may not have gotten through all the books, but you’ve got some great quotes!

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 8:13 pm on December 16, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      I must modestly agree. I like them all so much, I can’t name a favorite.

      Like

    • RMW 6:25 pm on December 18, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Over the years I accumulated a large library of mostly unread books. I sold many of the books some years ago but lately I’ve been driving carloads over to the local library… makes me feel really good to donate them… but kind of sad when I think of the money that could have been better spent. I still have a good size library of art books and those are in my will! Now I only buy Kindle books and the deal is I have to finish one before I buy another… that plan almost works most of the time!! Hope you get to read all of yours….

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 8:08 pm on December 18, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      I don’t know what kind of unread books they were that make you sad to “think of the money that could have been better spent,” but my guess is that the money could also have been worse spent, so if you think of it that way, perhaps you would feel differently. In any case, I thank you for the comment and share your hope for my reading goal. 🙂

      Like

      • RMW 9:38 pm on December 18, 2016 Permalink | Reply

        At least the books have ended up in a good place at the library or a book sale to raise money for the library… so in that sense it isn’t sad… and yes, better than a gambling or drug addiction for sure! Happy reading!

        Like

    • mistermuse 7:00 am on December 19, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks, and Happy Holidays to you.

      Like

    • mariasjostrand 6:48 am on February 12, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      “Prejudice is a great time saver. You can form opinions without having to get the facts.”
      –E. B. WHITE
      Loved this one 🙂😀

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 12:23 pm on February 12, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      I agree….and thanks for commenting!

      Like

    • Mary P 12:46 am on May 2, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      WHITE
      Loved this one 🙂😀 I always thought I was an optimist and, after reading that quote, I know for sure.

      Liked by 1 person

  • mistermuse 12:00 am on December 10, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Harold Adamson, hit songs of the 1920s-1940s, , , , , , , Robert Benchley, V-Discs   

    HIGHER AND HIGHER 

    This post isn’t about what you may think it’s about (like maybe mountain climbing, drugs or seduction). No, friends — just as you can’t judge a book by its cover, you shouldn’t judge the title of a post by its lover.

    And what am I a lover of? Faithful readers know that from time to time, I indulge my love for 1920s-1940s popular music/jazz with a post honoring a songwriting giant of that era (forgotten though he or she may be today). Dec. 10 is the birthday of one such songwriter, and this is such a post (sorry about the letdown).

    Lyricist Harold Adamson was born on this date in 1906. He studied law at Harvard, but songwriting had a greater appeal and, as luck (and talent) would have it, his first published song became an all-time standard: Time On My Hands, written for the 1930 stage show SMILES, starring Fred and Adele Astaire….and who better to do it justice than Billie Holiday, backed by Teddy Wilson, Lester Young & other jazz greats:

    Working with such composers as Jimmy McHugh, Vincent Youmans, Hoagy Carmichael, Duke Ellington, Vernon Duke and Victor Young, Adamson went on to write lyrics to such hits as Manhattan Serenade, Everything I Have Is Yours, It’s A Wonderful World, It’s A Most Unusual Day and many more. Here, from the 1936 film SUZY starring Jean Harlow and a very young Cary Grant, is one of Adamson’s lesser known songs (and the only time Cary Grant ever sang in a movie):

    In 1943 (at the height of WW II), Adamson teamed with McHugh to write the songs for Frank Sinatra’s first starring movie, HIGHER AND HIGHER. Quoting McHugh:

    Adamson and I trekked into our office at RKO and found the script glaring coldly at us from the top of the piano. It informed us that there’d be a minor lover’s quarrel in the story, also the need of a big production number. Nothing happened with us that first day, but at 3 a.m. the next morning, Adamson phoned me and said he’d been listening to a musical shortwave program that suddenly had been cut off for a news announcement.
    “There’s our title for the production number, Jim,” he said, “The Music Stopped.”
    Then I began concentrating on the lovers’ spat and came down with insomnia. As the thousandth  sheep jumped over the fence, both tune and title landed: “I Couldn’t Sleep a Wink Last Night.”

    But to my mind, the best of the McHugh-Adamson songs from that film is this one:

    Note that the above recording is a V-Disc, which is a story in itself. James Petrillo, head of the American Federation of Musicians (AFM), had called a national ban on recording by its members in 1942, meaning no new recordings could be made by commercial record companies using AFM musicians. To get around this ban, songs were recorded a capella, without instrumental accompaniment. However, there was an exception for records, called V-Discs, made for American troops overseas….thus the orchestral accompaniment for this song from the film’s CBS rehearsal session was recorded as a V-Disc. This, and many other V-Discs, survive to this day because, although such discs were supposed to be off-limits in the U.S., this edict was largely ignored by returning GIs.

    I close at the bottom of  this HIGHER AND HIGHER post with the title song from TOP OF THE TOWN, a film with screenplay co-written by humorist Robert Benchley:

     

     

     

     

     

     
    • linnetmoss 7:45 am on December 10, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Wonderful! Especially the incomparable Cary Grant. I didn’t realize he ever sang in a film 🙂 He’s not bad! Also love the Axel Stordahl years of Sinatra. My kind of music.

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 9:10 am on December 10, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I agree – Cary Grant’s singing of “Did I Remember?” is not only “not bad,” it’s a sheer delight. And it was indeed Alex Stordahl who arranged and conducted the orchestra in the Sinatra V-Disc.

      Glad you enjoyed the post.

      Like

    • Resa 4:40 pm on December 10, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      A truly fabulous post! Enjoyed Billie & Jean & Cary immensely.

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 7:14 pm on December 10, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Thank you so much!

      Like

    • Don Frankel 8:07 am on December 11, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Where did it go? I posted a comment here and poof. Maybe I didn’t hit the right button.

      Anyway I was surprised to hear Cary Grant sing and I wondered what army he was in. I mean it looked like he was wearing one of Major Strasser’s uniforms.

      Like

    • mistermuse 11:46 am on December 11, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Don, as someone who has had his share of comments disappear into cyberspace, I offer my makes-my-blood-boil-to-think-of-it condolences. May the cyberspace gods become blinded by the brilliance of our missing comments and get lost forever in the netherworld of their perfidious malevolence (or worse — if this comment doesn’t get through).

      As for Cary Grant, he played a French aviator in the film, and Jean Harlow is an American showgirl in Paris as WW I begins. As I recall, the film isn’t as good as it should’ve been (given that it was co-scripted by Dorothy Parker), but the song “Did I Remember” did get an Academy Award nomination.

      Like

    • literaryeyes 10:05 pm on December 14, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I saw a film last night, apropos of the 1920s-40s, starring Deanna Durbin. She sang “Night and Day” and hit the right tone on the nuances. Some of those old “movie stars” could sing.

      Like

    • mistermuse 12:49 am on December 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I own well over a dozen Deanna Durbin records (both 78s & LPs) and love her voice. I don’t think NIGHT AND DAY is her best song, though I like the “big finish” she gives it in the film (her orchestral accompaniment doesn’t seem right for the song, which doesn’t help). It’s not that she doesn’t sing it well – it’s just that I’ve heard it sung better by others.

      Like

    • RMW 2:55 pm on December 18, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Just listening to Cary Grant sing made me high… too bad he didn’t sing in more movies… he was one of a kind!

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 4:53 pm on December 18, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      And to think his real name was Archibald Leach!
      But you’re right – he was a “peach.”

      Liked by 1 person

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