"Where the Blue of the Night, meets the Gold of the Day," &
tendays komyathy | U.S.A. & elsewhere traveling | 06/28/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"What have we got here? The highlight of this collection is a 15-20 minute 3 song "short," wherein Bing Crosby chances upon a lady on a train who later fibs to him that she's engaged. Who's the lucky man, the gentleman asks? "Bing Crosby," she answers. He doesn't let on then, but later has this "news" announced to the press, and then shows up to meet her friends. All think he and/or she are pulling everyone's legs---until Bing sings "The Blue of the Night." It's a Mack Sennet short, but all the others herein are Paramount shorts. Of the best, we get "Boop-a-Doop Girl" Helen Kane wooing her professor; Rudy Vallee singing "Keep a lit-tle song, handy, wherEver you go, and NOTHing can everrr go--o wrong," as part of his role as a musical doctor; treating patients with song; "Meet the Boyfriend," a lively & expressive treat thanks to Lillian Roth's talents (she played arabella in the Marx Brothers' Animal Crackers (singing "Tell me dear, why am I so Romantic" to great effect); and last of the really good offerings has Ethel Merman in front of a judge singing for leniency in a 2-song performance. Less effective is a simple singing into camera by Ruth Etting---the songs are fine, but there's no drama and/or whimsy in this simple short film. We also have Ginger Rogers doing a decent job as a secretary inclined to break into song & the first appearance of Cary Grant on film (something you'll not really want to see actually, especially if you are a fan of the former Archie Leach, as he plays an awfully thin & annoying sailor on leave in a nightclub---with musical entertainent provided by Anna Chang). Bing Cosby makes another appearance to close out this selection, wherein he runs amok on a Hollywood set (which is nowhere near as entertaining and enjoyable as the Bing "short" that opens this DVD). "The Best of Swing" in the title refers to a single selection of Artie Shaw's Band. In other words, don't even consider this DVD if you are looking for "Swing." But if you enjoy musical shorts (6-20 minutes each---2 hours total for the DVD, including some bonus selections) then this is one of the best collections you're likely to come across. A bit pricey yes, but if you can't locate it through your library then you just might have to consider purchasing it; especially if you are a fan of---& wish to see---Bing Crosby, Lillian Roth, Rudy Vallee, and/or Ethel Merman in their prime. Cheers!"
Fine material--now if only they had a title wasn't so mislea
Matthew G. Sherwin | last seen screaming at Amazon customer service | 09/23/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Hollywood Rhythm Vol. 2--The Best of Big Bands & Swing gives us a great assortment of shorts from the early 1930s when "talkies" took America by storm. Unfortunately, the title is misleading: there's very little coverage of any big band in action here; and Artie Shaw's Class In Swing is the only short that actually deals with swing directly. Oops! Great DVD; but it needs a better title.
Anyway, what we do get is excellent quality throughout. Look for Bing Crosby in a very good short entitled Blue Of The Night. Mr. Crosby plays himself being followed about on a train by a young woman who wants to be engaged to him--only she doesn't realize that she's talking right to Bing himself. I know; it sounds hokey--but it works. Bing Crosby does a great job as he sings "Blue Of The Night" and "Every Time My Heart Beats," too.
In a more unusual piece, we get Rudy Vallée playing a doctor who runs his own musical hospital where music is the therapy he dispenses to his patients! Rudy sings very, very well; and look for Helen Kane as one of Dr. Vallée's nurses! Another piece that seems less than usual is Singapore Sue starring Anna Chang as an Asian woman being wooed by Cary Grant in his first screen appearance. He's rather scrawny and young but yes, that's him! Look for Anna to perform a great rendition of "How Can A Girl Say No," too.
Along the rest of the way we see Ginger Rogers--as a brunette--singing mostly behind a desk as she plays a singing secretary for a businessman; and a young Ethel Merman belts out a couple of numbers in her attempt to win a plea bargain with a judge in a courtroom. Ruth Etting simply looks into the camera as she delivers ""My Mother's Eyes" and "That's Him Now;" and Lillian Roth does a great number with her "boyfriend" Jimmy in the short entitled Meet The Boyfriend.
Two more shorts stand out in my mind. Artie Shaw's Class In Swing is the only short that actually gives a great performance to us as we hear the narrator tell us about the composition of a band. Great! Bing Crosby comes back in the final short entitled Dream Home which is a silly, one dimensional short with an embarrassingly dated blackface scene. Bing gets girl; loses girl to impossible, demanding, snobby mother; Bing gets girl for good in the end.
There are several extras on this DVD which enhance its value even further. Tallulah Bankhead sits atop a piano as she sings "It Had To Be That Way;" Maurice Chevalier sings "Louise" in his first screen appearance; and The Boswell Sisters does their usual magnificent job of "Heebie Jeebies." Wow.
I highly recommend this DVD for fans of the artists included in these short films; and people who enjoy classic pop vocals will appreciate this DVD for years to come.
There certainly is a problem, however. This DVD does not showcase big band and swing very much at all. Swing is scarcely showcased with just one short of Artie Shaw and His Orchestra; and big band isn't showcased at all! The misleading title reflects carelessness; and this irks me. Too bad; I have to take off points for this great DVD with the mismatched title.
I give this DVD three and one half stars for the lack of big band and swing--as well as that awful blackface scene with Bing Crosby. Sorry, folks!