Musical Monday: Sing You Sinners (1938)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 600. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

sing you sinnersThis week’s musical:
Sing You Sinners (1938) – Musical #671

Studio:
Paramount Pictures

Director:
Wesley Ruggles

Starring:
Bing Crosby, Fred MacMurray, Donald O’Connor, Ellen Drew, Elizabeth Patterson, John Gallaudet, William Haade, Irving Bacon, Paul White, Tom Dugan, Chester Clute (uncredited), Gwen Kenyon (uncredited)

Plot:
The three Beebee brothers Joe (Crosby), Dave (MaCMurray) and Mike (O’Connor) live with their mother (Patterson). The brothers have a musical act, but don’t work steadily. Dave is the main contributor to the family as he works as a mechanic, and supporting his family keeps him from marrying Martha (Drew). Mike is young and Joe can’t hold a job. Realizing he’s holding the rest of his family back, Joe heads to California for a job … but instead gambles on holding a race horse.

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Musical Monday: Rhythm on the Range (1936)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 600. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

rhythm on the rangeThis week’s musical:
Rhythm on the Range – Musical #670

Studio:
Paramount Pictures

Director:
Norman Taurog

Starring:
Bing Crosby, Frances Farmer, Bob Burns, Martha Raye, Samuel S. Hinds, Lucile Gleason, Warren Hymer, James Burke, George E. Stone, Leonid Kinskey
Musical performers: Sons of the Pioneers, Louis Prima

Plot:
Wealthy Doris Halloway (Farmer) is prepared to marry a man she doesn’t love, because it seems like the thing to do. Her Aunt Penny (Gleason) owns a ranch out west and heartily disapproves. When Doris hears her Aunt Penny talk about western women and life, Doris decides she needs to go west. She sneaks onto a cattle car with one of Penny’s ranch hands, Jeff (Crosby) and lies about who she is. Jeff and Doris (or Louis as she tells him) travel across country together in a cattle car with his bull, Cuddles.

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Musical Monday: That’s Entertainment! (1974)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 600. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

This week’s musical:
That’s Entertainment! (1974)

Studio:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director:
Jack Haley, Jr.

Starring:
As themselves narrating: Frank Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor, Peter Lawford, James Stewart, Mickey Rooney, Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, Debbie Reynolds, Fred Astaire, Liza Minelli, Bing Crosby

Plot:
A feature film documentary celebrating 50 years of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, featuring film clips from 1929 into 1958.

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A “White Christmas” at the Upcountry History Museum

The Upcountry History Museum follows COVID-19 protocols, including limited capacity, requiring facemasks and no contact ticket purchasing through their website. Read more.

Learn how to book a virtual tour or visit in person.

You may be dreaming of a white Christmas, but it may not be likely that you’ll see cold precipitation in your area — especially if you live in the South like me.

The Upcountry History Museum offers the next best thing:  The Greenville, S.C. museum has brought a “White Christmas” to the Upstate of South Carolina through an exhibit. On loan from the Rosemary Clooney House in Augusta, Ky, the exhibit will be on display in Greenville until Jan. 30, 2021.

“White Christmas” (1954) is a holiday favorite starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen. The film begins during World War II and then covers 10 years to show Crosby and Kaye’s characters are now entertainment successes. They meet two sisters (Clooney, Ellen), and the four travel to Pine Tree, Vermont, where they find their World War II leader, General Waverly (Dean Jagger), is running a failing inn. The group tries to figure out a way to help business while also honoring General Waverly’s service.

This is a rare time when the “White Christmas” exhibit has traveled away from its Kentucky home, said museum owner and former Miss America, Heather French Henry.

“This benefits the Upcountry History Museum because we can take our exhibit to people who may never travel to Augusta,” Henry said.

A peak into the exhibit room from the entrance.

My visit

The exhibit includes Edith Head-designed costumes, film props, and other memorabilia, such as a special lighter with Bing Crosby on it that he gifted that Christmas. The costumes include the blue lace and tulle “Sisters” dresses worn by Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen, the white wool dress and green velvet that Clooney and Ellen wore at the Christmas party,  the black pants George Chakiris wore in “Love You Didn’t Do Right By Me,” and Ellen’s white “Mandy” costume.

After watching “White Christmas” since I was a child, it was amazing to see Edith Head’s iconic costumes up close and in person. I went with my parents, sister and four-year-old niece, who particularly loved the “Sisters” costumes and the “Mandy” white outfit.

With COVID-19 in mind, I felt comfortable at the Upcountry History Museum throughout my visit. My family was masked, and there were only one or two other small families there, making it very easy social distance.

The dresses worn by Rosemary Clooney, Vera-Ellen and Mary Wickes at the Christmas party. Henry said that the white dress was one of the most delicate, because it is wool. (Photo/Jessica P.)

Moving history across states

To move all of these pieces from Kentucky to South Carolina, each item must be carefully cataloged. To avoid any wear or damage to the costumes, the costumes remain on the mannequins, and most travel upright.

The exhibit also includes items that aren’t displayed at the Rosemary Clooney House due to space, like the sleigh. The only replicas in the exhibit are the red finale dresses made by Henry’s mother, Diana French. Paramount has not been able to locate the red dresses, which are either owned by a private collector or were altered and repurposed after the film, according to the exhibit.

Since many of the costumes are now 66 years old, the condition can be a concern, but with Edith Head and her team’s great work, many are in excellent condition.

“That’s what makes it so crazy. Not only do we have a phenomenal collection, but they are also all Edith Head designs,” Henry said. “Even if you aren’t interested in the film, you may be interested in the design.”

The blue “Sisters” dresses, worn by Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen in “White Christmas.” Vera-Ellen’s dress on the right was restored by Paramount and the lace was hand-created. (Photo/Jessica P.)

Clooney and Vera-Ellen in the dresses, for comparison.

From Miss America to Museum Founder

Like so many people, Henry grew up watching “White Christmas,” and says being part of this is unexpected.

After Henry won Miss America in 1999, fellow Kentucky-native Rosemary Clooney was one of the first phone calls she received. The two later performed together.

Rosemary Clooney moved to Augusta, Ky, in 1980, and after Clooney died in 2002, her children reached out to Henry and her husband, Dr. Steve Henry, about purchasing her home. The Henrys enthusiastically agreed and preserved the home, creating a museum to celebrate the life and career of Rosemary Clooney.

Since the Rosemary Clooney House opened in 2005, the Henrys started working to collect memorabilia and costumes over the years, including “White Christmas.”

“Each costume has its own story about its journey,” Henry said. “In fact, when we first started, we didn’t even think we would find but maybe one or two pieces.”

Henry first was connected with Paramount when she reached out for a sketch or pattern to recreate the red finale Christmas dresses for a “White Christmas” stage show she was performing in.

“They (Paramount) realized for the first time that they didn’t know where any of the costumes were,” Henry said. “After the show, I called them back and asked if they found anything.”

It was a “snowball effect” as collectors began to contact them. The “Mandy” ivory dance outfit was their first big auction item.

“Rosemary’s ‘Sisters dress’ was on eBay labeled ‘vintage 1950s party dress,” Henry said. “Vera’s companion dress was with a collector in Texas.”

Vera-Ellen’s dress had been altered into a sleeveless dress and was resorted for two years by Betsey Potter of Paramount, who hand-created the dress’s lace.

Costumes from the “Mandy” number in “White Christmas,” including Vera-Ellen’s white costume. The exhibit said the red/orange costume may look different in the film due to the Techcnicolor process, and due to age. Photo/Jessica P.

The “Mandy” number for comparison

A Multi-Generational Tradition

“White Christmas” was the top box office hit in 1954 but has continued to be a holiday favorite for the past 66 years.

“White Christmas is a movie I have watched since I was born. My mother had us watch it and now our girls watch it,” Henry said. “What’s so great is you see that multi-generational tradition with this film.”

Henry says her favorite number is “Love You Didn’t Do Right By Me,” but she also loves “Choreography.”

“When she comes down in the hot pink tap dress, I just love it,” Henry said. “Vera-Ellen is one of the most underappreciated dancers of her time.”

Plan your visit

The film and exhibit also tie in with her military veteran advocacy, and in connection with the Greenville exhibit, Henry partnered with the museum to create launching Operation Waverly.  Through this initiative, the museum will be collecting supplies to benefit Fellow Countrymen, a community-based non-profit committed to ending Veteran homelessness within the Upstate of South Carolina. When you visit, you can donate one of the following items for an area veteran.

Learn more about planning your visit to the Upcountry History Museum or how to take a virtual tour of the exhibit. The exhibit will return to the Rosemary Clooney House in February.

Your humble writer in front of the sleigh and replica dresses at the exhibit, located at the Upcountry History Museum.

Musical Monday: A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1949)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 600. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

This week’s musical:
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1949) – Musical #200

Studio:
Paramount Pictures

Director:
Tay Garnett

Starring:
Bing Crosby, Rhonda Fleming, Cedric Hardwicke, William Bendix, Murvyn Vye, Virginia Field, Joseph Vitale, Henry Wilcoxon, Richard Webb, Alan Napier, Julia Faye, Mary Field, Ann Carter, Olin Howland (uncredited)

Plot:
In 1912, mechanic Hank Martin (Crosby) is caught in a storm, while riding a horse. When he falls from the horse and hits his head, he finds himself transported to Camelot and the court of King Arthur (Hardwicke). Since Hank traveled backwards from the present, he’s regarded as a monster or a magician with all of his knowledge. He falls in love with Lady Alisande La Carteloise (Fleming), who is betrothed to Sir Lancelot (Wilcoxon).

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Musical Monday: Here Come the WAVES (1944)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 600. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

This week’s musical:
Here Come the WAVES (1944) – Musical #640

Studio:
Paramount Studios

Director:
Mark Sandrich

Starring:
Bing Crosby, Betty Hutton, Sonny Tufts, Ann Doran, Noel Neill, Gwen Crawford, Catherine Craig, Anabel Shaw (billed as Marjorie Henshaw), Mona Freeman (uncredited)

Plot:
Susan (Hutton) and Rosemary (Hutton) are twin sister singers. Rosemary is more serious, and Susan is a bit more energetic and in love with famous singer Johnny Cabot (Crosby), a crooner who women go crazy for. Susan and Rosemary join the WAVES (the women’s reserve of United States Naval Reserve). Shortly after, Johnny is also drafted into the Navy. When Susan doesn’t want Johnny to be sent for active duty, she hatches a plan.

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Musical Monday: Robin and the 7 Hoods (1964)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 600. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

This week’s musical:
Robin and the 7 Hoods (1964) – Musical #329

Studio:
Warner Bros.

Director:
Gordon Douglas

Starring:
Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Bing Crosby, Edward G. Robinson (uncredited), Peter Falk, Allen Jenkins, Jack La Rue, Victor Buono, Phillip Crosby, Toni Basil (uncredited), Hans Conried (uncredited), Tony Randall (uncredited), Sig Ruman (uncredited)

Plot:
Set in Chicago during the 1920s, two rival gangs compete for control of the city. Guy Gisborne (Falk) wants all the hoods in town to pay him for protection. His rival, Robbo (Sinatra) with his partners, Little John (Martin) and Will (Davis), get the reputation of robbing from the rich and giving to the poor when he donates money from Marian (Rush), the daughter of a deceased gang boss.

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Musical Monday: College Humor (1933)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 600. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

This week’s musical:
College Humor (1933) – Musical #612

Studio: Paramount Pictures

Director: Wesley Ruggles

Starring:
Bing Crosby, Jack Oakie, Richard Arlen, Mary Carlisle, George Burns, Gracie Allen, Mary Kornman, Joe Sawyer, Lona Andre, Grady Sutton, Jimmy Conlin, James Burke, Bruce Bennett (uncredited), Dennis O’Keefe (uncredited), Marjorie Reynolds (uncredited), Frank Jenks (uncredited)

Plot:
The film follows Barney Shirrel (Oakie) who starts at his freshman year at MidWest University. His roommates are gruff Tex (Sawyer) and Mondrake (Arlen), who drinks too much. Professor Frederick Danvers (Crosby) is an alumnus of MidWest and now teaches there as a popular music professor. Barney is initiated into a fraternity and joins the football team, paying less attention to Amber (Kornman). Barney’s sister Barbara Shirrel (Carlisle) starts at the college the following term, and while she is dating Mondrake, she falls in love with Prof. Danvers. This causes Mondrake to drink more, getting him kicked off the football team so that the school is at risk of losing the big game.

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Musical Monday: Going My Way (1944)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 500. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

This week’s musical:
Going My Way (1944) – Musical #595

Studio:
Paramount Pictures

Director:
Leo McCarey

Starring:
Bing Crosby, Barry Fitzgerald, Frank McHugh, Risë Stevens, Gene Lockhart, Jean Heather, James Brown, Porter Hall, Fortunio Bonanova, Eily Malyon, Stanley Clements, Carl ‘Alfalfa’ Switzer, Adeline De Walt Reynolds, William Frawley (uncredited), Anita Sharp-Bolster (uncredited)
The Robert Mitchell Boy Choir

Plot:
Father Fitzgibbon (Fitzgerald) is the head of a church that is facing financial troubles. Father Chuck O’Malley (Crosby) is assigned to help get the church back on its feet. Father O’Malley has new, unconventional ideas of how to help the community and raise money for the church. O’Malley and Fitzgibbon face differences of opinions, while they both try to do what’s best.

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Musical Monday: Going Hollywood (1933)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 500. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

going hollywoodThis week’s musical:
Going Hollywood” (1933)– Musical #123

Studio:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director:
Raoul Walsh

Starring:
Marion Davies, Bing Crosby, Fifi D’Orsay, Stuart Erwin, Ned Sparks, Patsy Kelly, Bobby Watson, Sterling Holloway (uncredited)

Plot:
Sylvia Bruce (Davies) is board as a French teacher at Briarcroft’s School for Girls. After hearing a romantic tune on the radio performed by Bill Williams (Crosby), Sylvia packs her bags to head out to find excitement, romance and to thank Bill for inspiring her. Bill is heading to Hollywood to make a film with French actress Lili Yvonne (D’Orsay) and Sylvia follows him.

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