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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

It's Always New Year's Eve at Greenbriar

Rochester, Minnesota's Chateau Theatre Is Now a Barnes and Noble

Kids Get The Party Jump On Parents

Park the tykes and fill up the liquor cabinet. That may have been parental notion on New Year's Eve as stage was set at home for "grown-up" partying that night. What better occasion to unload kids at Rochester, Minnesota's Chateau Theatre, where each 60's New Year brought delight in the form of features management rented at $25 top (plus cartoon seasoning) to fill 1,488 seats. Concession sales would tie a ribbon on it. Free popcorn and a dime candy bar, sure, but would sugared-up moppetry stop at that? Like with mom and dad hours later, "just one" would scarcely do, adult intake of alcohol matched by offspring's Coke downpour and cherry smashing. And note that drinks weren't free at the Chateau, this assuring youth would tap concession well to wash down free corn. There was method to madness of kid shows, Saturdays the profit day at virtually any venue. Note use of a 1960 ad slick recycled for 1963's event. And how many had seen or would remember The Three Worlds Of Gulliver from three years before? Smaller kids would be coming to it fresh --- that's how  many such pix stayed evergreen through much of a decade, only question being if exchanges kept prints on hand and what shape they were in. By the way, that dime candy bar would have been a hoss in 1963. I remember ten cent Baby Ruths pulling weight for entire shows, being big as a nine-year-old's outstretched arm. And look here --- there's compensation of Charade for teetotaler adults and/or those not invited to New Year blowouts.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Pop A Cork And Turn Up Your Heater

The Skyview Celebrates New Year's Eve

The fun of New Year's Eve parked in a frigid auto is debatable, yet here was Winston-Salem's Skyview Drive-In promising the moon to patrons willing to brave elements and join in a four-feature marathon. When do inducements become too many? Freebies here seem overwhelming. Outright cash prizes were rare, if not unknown, at drive-ins close to Greenbriar. This is one of very few I've come across. Our Starlight did not issue $ reward --- live turkeys or chickens occasionally --- but never money. Winston-Salem and the Skyview were then an hour away on two lanes. Spoiled as we now are with interstates, such a drive would seem murderous. Bribery of patronage was consequence of winter chill that kept cars off the Skyview lot between fall and arrival of spring. Your choice if attending was a dilly: freeze to death or run the heater, that last an option that spent gas and made nights out expensive. But maybe you'd win a twenty-five gallon gas ticket they were giving away, or even the $35 bankroll; anyway, you were a cinch for a midnight cup of joe, and would need it by then, plus a free ducat for showing up on such a foul night. Maybe weather would be mild ... that could happen in Forsyth County on NY's Eve ... but I've just checked forecasts for tomorrow night, and Winston-Salem is in for a thirty-degree low. How different would 2013 be from what patronage experienced on this early 60's occasion?

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Brando's Mission Is A Secret From Customers

Another Turning Point Of The War: Morituri (1965)

Man without a country Marlon Brando is dispatched on secret mission to sabotage a German freighter hauling precious rubber to Axis ports. This was, surprisingly for 1965 and 20th Fox, black-and-white and 1.85. There was also monkeying with the title post-release so as to juice interest (Saboteur: Code Name Morituri), but getting back an extravagant $5.9 million spent on the negative was past hope in a market crowded with spy and impossible mission yarns. Morituri took only three million in worldwide rentals and posted a $4.1 million loss, Fox's worst for that year next to The Agony and The Ecstasy. Was Brando a right fit for action/adventure? He's too genteel in SS officer disguise, despite being told by command officer Trevor Howard that he must display cruelty in accord with enemy habit. Morituri is notches below war exploit done elsewhere, the 60's being a boon for these what with WWII veterans willing to leave their TV's now and again to buy a ticket. An Operation Crossbow or Von Ryan's Express could thus click, but Morituri by its very title was non-specific as to setting and theme, dooming the show to arid attendance.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Gene Autry Building His Base

A White-Hat Revue: Yodelin' Kid From Pine Ridge (1937)

Someone must have been giving Gene Autry horse lessons in that first season, for here, in a second, he's doing saddle leaps and hard rides like old mentor Maynard (as in Ken). The squawk is between cattlers and "turpentiners," the latter drawing such from pine trees the cow men want to cut down. Earlier Autrys were trial/error, Republic in search of a formula; outcome being unpredictable make them fun. Pine Ridge of the title is in Georgia, not the expected Southwest, even if filming was limited to latter. Republic got outdoors to places we like seeing in westerns, if not Lone Pine, then parks/lakes within a trucked crew's access. 1924's Peter Pan Betty Bronson is Gene's hillbilly love interest --- according to expert Boyd Magers, she got $250 for six day's work (Magers' book, Gene Autry Westerns: America's Favorite Cowboy, being excellent and highly recommended). The author notes too that PCA authorities made Republic tone down excess violence in Yodelin' Kid's pitch battle finish, a notable instance of censorship riding herd on a series western. Looked to me as though Paramount's previous year Trail Of The Lonesome Pine had influence here, much of Yodelin' Kid reminiscent of 1936's Technicolor triumph, minus, of course, the color. Just realized: Even though he's the Yodelin' Kid, I don't recall Gene actually yodeling in this --- did I just fail to notice?

Friday, December 27, 2013

Meteoric Ladd Back From Service

Love, Sacrifice, and More Sacrifice: And Now Tomorrow (1944)

Alan Ladd's the doctor of love to struck deaf Loretta Young in this melodrama directed by Irving Pichel and co-written by Raymond Chandler. Putting the latter with Ladd makes one think noir, or at the least rough play, but this is a plush chair after design of Dark Victory, with AL more concerned with class distinctions than a jammed .45. His bedside manner could use work, at one point blowing out a match and saying, Kids die like that all the time. Was Chandler having sport with work he found lachrymose? Cures come by way of a "serum," a term I never hear in present-day clinics, but maybe it was more common to medical discourse then. Everyone's fixed on doing the "honorable" thing, thus delay in appropriate couples getting together. And Now Tomorrow was catnip to fan mag trade, being popular novel-derived and featuring Ladd just back from his service hitch. Loretta Young had by this time ossified to phony-baloney "movie star" posturing, not a hint of reality in characters she played. Realization on her rich girl part that it's better to be poor but proud comes off absurd as it would in actual life (spoiler: she gets to keep wrong-side-of-tracks Ladd plus the money). AL takes first billing; they had teamed a year before for China, where Young got top placement. Wonder if respective agents quarreled over this. And Now Tomorrow can be had on Region 2 from England, but it could use a fresh transfer. Seems like corporate pride, if nothing else, would inspire negative owner Universal to clean up DVD acts.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

A Monster Cracks a Million For Katzman/Columbia

Ray Harryhausen Animates It Came From Beneath The Sea (1955)

Cleveland's Hippodrome Gets It First,
Then The Combo Fans Out Across Ohio
Still of that window when real money could be made on oversized creatures, this came from beneath a Sam Katzman budget to $1.1 million in domestic rentals (compare with less-than-half $464K earned by SK's The Giant Claw two years later). I'm of philosophy that giant octopi look better when you see all of what they've got, not just doled-out tentacles as here. Ray Harryhausen's beast drags his through Frisco and over pedestrians insufficiently fleet to avert lethal reach. We'd like a whole of the monster to come ashore and wrap around skyscrapers, but this being a Clover Production (Katzman's company) assures it won't. Still wish to have been old enough for ICFBTS in 1955, as elder anecdotes suggest it was a treat, and Harryhausen did work miracles with limited resource he had. What we see of the monster looks great (Ray said later that Katzman wouldn't let him have enough tentacles, let alone the whole of his proposed octopus). Considering labor Ray applied toward his creation, plus prevail over Clover penury, results are truly remarkable and testament to Harryhausen genius. Warners' Beast From 20,000 Fathoms (done also by him) certainly left tracks, It Came being all but a photocopy. So how else are giant monsters dealt with? You sight one, study it from afar, endure a final reel assault, then put it down like a froth-mouthed dog. 50's colossals would ultimately be such strays sent to the pound.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Arliss Spoke and Wickets Shook

Disreali (1929) Helps History's Lesson Go Down

The creaking sound you hear is TCM bringing forth a first-ever talkie with George Arliss, Disraeli not often shown and (so far) not on DVD. This was really the show they'd remember GA for. He was identified with the part for board-trod of it, then screen playing same sans voice. Arliss overcame stiffness that plagued talkie thesps by tight cling to stage convention and inviting microphones in on the party. Of cameras, and more importantly swaying booms, he had no fear. The monocled master just took what worked on a stage and made movies accommodate it, experience in silents smoothing path to sound mastery. It needs Arliss projected large to catch sly inflections, his face a constant register of knowing humor. GA could get at funnybones even of a great unwashed, his following not limited to urban sophisticates. Most could identify and laugh with him, even when it was remote historical figures he impersonated.

The Grand Arliss Gesture. Audiences Looked Forward To These. I Still Do.

Helpful too was more people knowing then who Disraeli was, history less distant, and public education more rigorous, as of '29. Arliss wisely cast youth in support for Disraeli and elsewhere, knowing pretty faces beyond his own singular countenance were needed. Disqualified as sex lure, Arliss would be Dan Cupid in the alternative, empire matters taking back seat to union of callow lovebirds. All that took onus off dry parchment and made Arliss schooling like all-the-time recess. If he seems an outlandish show-off today ... well, that was just mastery of the craft talking, flamboyance an Arliss signature writ by a disciplined hand. Disraeli is remarkable for being (a one and only?) spy thriller played out at a single garden and sitting room, close quarters in which to haggle the fate of a nation. Disraeli was a hit ($1.4 million in worldwide rentals), the biggest such of GA's Warner career, and a rare mating of prestige with money. Arliss had taken the old concept of "Famous Players In Famous Plays" and finally made it pay. I don't wonder at Warners giving him such creative leeway over vehicles to come.

More George Arliss at Greenbriar Archive: Getting In George's Groove, a youthful George Arliss (was there ever such a thing?), and Voltaire.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Listen In and Make Your Christmas List

Santa Brings Radio Cheer in Gifts From The Air (1937)

Imagine Santa bringing toys based on your favorite radio stars! I'm talking an alternate universe, of course, but one I presume existed in the 30's when air personalities were as beloved as those in movies, if not more so. Christmas cartoons from the period invariably had toys spun off broadcast personnel, but fewer in the shape of movie stars. Santa visits an urchin boy in Gifts From The Air and leaves Eddie Cantor, Kate Smith, Ed Wynn, and others for gifts. They dance, sing, and do signature thing for Christmas morning. Could a Greta Garbo doll or Clark Gable marionette supply such merriment? Toy collector/historians would know if radio folk inspired toy manufacturers during peak years of the medium; was there a Joe Penner action figure to ask over and over if you wanna buy a duck? Cartoon toys often took the form of W.C. Fields or Laurel and Hardy, and these were movie stars, but wait, didn't Fields become as well known for airwave contretemps with Bergen and McCarthy? I'd guess a stuffed and performing Eddie Cantor would please more than an immobile Clark Gable frankly not giving a damn, though tastes obviously differ. Gifts From The Air was a Columbia Rhapsody produced by Charles Mintz in Technicolor (it's on You Tube). Of Depression-era yarns, few were so cherished as the orphan child who awakens Christmas to a shanty-full of presents and leviathan-sized roast turkey. Each year of the 30's got variation on the theme by one or more cartoon-makers. Maybe it reassured patronage that somehow their own Yuletide dreams might come true.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Hammer Heads In "R" Direction

Sex Sells The Vampire Lovers (1970)

Girl-on-girl vampirism and new blood (as in Rated "R") for a Hammer franchise that needed transfusion. Glamour and sex sub for shuffling monsters and Michael Ripper serving schnapps, Ingrid Pitt/Madeline Smith the stuff of pin-ups even more revealing than what went onscreen. American-International teamed with Hammer for this; they'd danced before, but tentatively, when AIP distributed The Two Faces Of Dr. Jekyll to US theatres (as House Of Fright). A ratings system allowed for frolicking nudes and heads cleaved lovingly off, a startling shift from censor-cleansed Hammers we were used to. They weren't shooting at Bray, so settings aren't home and hearth, but Hammer still managed gothic atmosphere to uphold tradition, and Peter Cushing is happily aboard to resume vampire hunting. Action moves from castle/crypt to bedchambers where Ingrid Pitt plies Sapphic trade, this a goose to a genre  otherwise gone stale, nudity the only thing not seen countless times before. American-International did really lurid posters for stateside release that frankly kept me away in 1970, but seen in HD (as lately on Netflix), Vampire Lovers looks pretty rich. Its $533K in domestic rentals was perhaps less than AIP expected; did this cool ardor for further partnering with Hammer?

Sunday, December 22, 2013

John Barrymore Joins The Russian Revolution

A Tempest-Tossed Late (1928) Silent Epic

John Barrymore gone from Warners (temporarily) and tied to Joe Schenck and United Artists for lavish vehicles of which this may be a most engaging. JB was for many a romantic essence of great, as then defined, acting. There was always-appreciation for ironies, however, that kept Jack from weighing too heavy. You never know which way he'll jump in scenes others would play straight and serious. Tempest is Russian Revolution set. There is class conflict, and Barrymore is on the begging end. He's not good enough for haughty princess Camilla Horn, us knowing better, and eager for her to eat requisite crow. Jack gets a dose of dungeon life and hallucinates in keeping with Barrymore response to confinement (compare with his torture chamber stay in Don Juan or garret starving as Beau Brummell). Less flamboyance than customary for JB --- that prison portion keeps him out of fighting; were there budget concerns that limited action? Tempest still cost a million, way on a high side for the silent era, and brought back but $972K in domestic rentals. Don't know about foreign revenue, but it needed to be excellent for Tempest to have gotten out of a hole. Surprisingly run in HD on Amazon, Netflix, elsewhere, and looks fine for the uptick.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

When The Brits Sent Us a Great Musical Star

Jessie Matthews Glows In Evergreen (1934)

UK's Evergreen Earns Top-Of-Bill Bookings In The US
Why couldn't we have had Jessie Matthews to partner Fred Astaire and send Ginger Rogers to the Brits? Matthews was more appealing, certainly sexier, a better dancer --- to these eyes anyhow. Evergreen was an earlier success for her, having broke bigger than customary for a UK pic on US shores. Yank response to Gaumont's release suggested an offshore name could become meaningful here; Jesse certainly had the goods for it. There was even press to effect that Astaire wanted her for a next partner. Matthews had personal troubles and that may have shorted out a wider reach. Evergreen boasts full complement of elaborately staged songs; you'd not think England had so much to spend in '34. The story is multi-generational, JM as both mother and (later) daughter. Supporting is Sonnie Hale (a Matthews husband), putting over low-rung music hall-ing with conviction (was there a little of Sonnie in Archie Rice?), and Barry Mackay tries at brashness of a sort that Gaumont hoped might click US-wise. A string of Matthews musicals graced the 30's, some disc-available to us courtesy VCI. Evergreen meanwhile plays TCM in a nice print from owner MGM.

Friday, December 20, 2013

70's Universal Tells A Soldier's Story

Gregory Peck as MacArthur (1977)

Vietnam was far enough behind for Universal to manage a forbearing bio-pic of a general anti-warriors loved to hate. MacArthur's opponents, presidential and otherwise, come off as straw men in the face of Gregory Peck's commanding perf, maybe the actor's last true hurrah before "just fading away" as does his subject here (in Peck's case, from strong leads). Universal was living in a past what with this and The Sting, Gable and Lombard, W.C. Fields and Me, others using earlier 20th century setting and dress. MacArthur looks a most expensive of these, despite being US-shot with a TV director and lower-case support cast. It is mostly talk and strategy; the general's temper a barometer of conflict throughout. Roosevelt and Truman shrink before the dynamo that is Peck, his persona making MacArthur seem a natural fit. There were comparisons with Patton at the time, and more had gone to see that, maybe because it was less rote than by-the-numbers history Universal told here. I wonder if hindsight made them wish MacArthur had been done as a TV-movie instead of theatrical, it having faint air of 70's work done for the tube.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Grant, Sinatra, and Loren as Cannon Fodder

One Of A Kind If Nothing Else: The Pride and The Passion (1957)

Surprising for stunt work and expose to real danger by a triad of stars you'd have thought would be doubled for anything other than standing or sitting. Cary Grant knife duels, takes falls backward (looks painful), and immerses himself in Spain river water to plant explosives (he was 53 at the time). There's a night raid on enemy encampment where Grant and Frank Sinatra run through fire and leap upon burning wagons, while Sophia Loren charges the French fort w/o apparent regard for cannon blast around her. All this is to say that The Pride and The Passion began in terms of full commitment on the part of its stars that, according to producer/director Stanley Kramer, faded as time and hardship (plus budget overrun) sapped strength.

Pride has been scorned since as a bomb, which it was only to extent of costs exceeding what Kramer and UA could hope to get back. The idea of this miscast lot dragging a cannon across Spain is fodder for those who'd question Hollywood's judgment. It's not a terrible show, just overlong and meandering at times. Action done on grand scale still impresses, Spain dictator Franco having put innumerable extras at Kramer disposal. The Pride and The Passion lost money and wiped out profit SK would have taken for his previous Not As A Stranger, financer UA having cross-collateralized the pair and charging red ink on the second against gain from the first. Kramer ended up selling his interest in both negatives to UA (for $550K, according to Tino Balio's second United Artists book) and called the whole thing a bust.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Domestic Comedy Of A Century Ago

Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Drew in How John Came Home (1915)

"John" is Sidney Drew, who "wins a tidy sum on a long shot" and quits his job, that being ruinous misjudgment in a day when steady course was best maintained by all. Office jobs seemed always a drudge then; was it ever a man's world in this sea of stiff collars, cramped space, and never enough money? W.C. Fields would make better hay of the workplace, but Drew was Bill's forerunner for trapped circumstance on both office front and at home, where "Mrs. Sidney Drew" ties an apron on hubby as he comes through the door. Drew seizes advantage of his apparent drowning death to further gamble away the fortune he's won, then must stage a resurrection from the sea when he inherits another pile. All this is played for civilized comedy and par for the Drew's course; no slapstick-ing occurs. The couple was popular in the teens and might have prospered on but for Sid's 1919 death. The Mrs. was number two for him, a first (and stage partner) having passed a few years earlier. The latter wife was in mid-twenties when this short (only six minutes) was made, but looks older. Drew pics, what ones survive, reflect comedy aborning and are worth a check-out when they turn up, as did How John Came Home in a Looser Than Loose DVD titled Teams --- Volume One, which features this and seven more of pre-talker vintage.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The One-Man Cartoon Factory?

Eighty Years Late To Get Your Christmas Pig Pattern

The above is from 1933. Implied again is notion that Walt Disney personally drew his cartoons, and from how credits for the shorts read, what other conclusion could there be? Disney was by his own admission not much of an artist, but he was determined that the company and all its works revolve around his name, a sound approach to product branding. Most children probably grew up thinking Walt drew all the Disney stuff, realization he didn't  coming on heels of knowledge there was no Santa Claus. But wait --- are there adults today who assume WD sat at easel to create and see through all of Mickey, Donald, and company? Many know little enough about animation to assume it could be a one-man operation. Disney apparently didn't discourage belief that he drew. If fans asked for a Mickey sketch, he'd give it to them. The Feg Murray cartoon above reveals in fact the impossibility of Disney personally doing his own stuff. To topic of further product branding, there is the ad at left for McCall's pattern for the Three Little Pigs from a 12/12/33 newspaper. Disney licensed characters to increase awareness of output and collect revenue from sale of doo-dads bearing mouse, duck, and pig imprint. Here was where profit increasingly was for the company, it being tough to break even on cartoons Walt habitually overspent to make. The Pig Pattern served as Christmas giving in 1933, each item presumably Mom-made and thus unique. How many of such survive today, and how collectable would they be?

Monday, December 16, 2013

From Bob Hope's Christmas List

$ilver Bells Ring in The Lemon Drop Kid (1951)

Bob and Marilyn Maxwell --- A Longer Story Than Space Permits Here 
Bob Hope at early-50's Paramount, a peak period for his solo output. Direction is by Sidney Lanfield, but Frank Tashlin lent creative hand, as evidenced by cartoony gags to loosen verbal grip of Hope humor as served on radio/screen-previous. Tashlin had a distinct voice to breathe fresh fun into wise enabler Hope's act. Bob must have liked Frank's WB funnies to turn him so loose in live action, that being even more the case with following year's Son Of Paleface. Tashlin getting foothold into Hope universe is reflected by Variety reportage of scenes written/directed by him that were shot several months after The Lemon Drop Kid got otherwise done. Hope was unhappy over the film as wrapped by initial director Lanfield, previews in Santa Monica and Inglewood being sluggish, and since this was his production, BH could tinker till satisfied. That was annoyance for Paramount, the distrib set for Christmas 1950 release, but told by Hope there'd be no delivery short of his sign-off.

Paramount Pals BH and Bill Holden Confer On Lemon Drop Set
We don't think of Bob as a fussy filmmaker, but in many ways he was, and at least for 50's summit, he'd give no audience less than best achievable. Considering Hope was in for significant dose of Lemon Drop rentals, we can admire his holding out toward improving the pic. But here was the clincher: The Lemon Drop Kid was financed entirely by Hope interests, no money from banks or Paramount. That put Bob in virtual Chaplin category of total control, and makes it no wonder he took movies back to drawing board even when associates were OK by them (his cash, not theirs, after all). Missing a Christmas launch may have cost both Hope and Paramount, as The Lemon Drop Kid dipped from $2.5 million Fancy Pants had earned to $2.2 million in Lemon Drop domestic rentals.

Bob and Marilyn Stage a Fall 1951 Invasion of London
A historic Hope/Paramount deal came in the wake of Lemon Drop completion. Epoch-making too was money Hope had so far earned in 1950. His first TV host appearance in February of that year was for record paycheck of $40K; viewer response made NBC hot to pledge him for more. Para wanted to seal a deal for eight features, four done by Hope Enterprises, the remainder in-house for the studio. Each would be budgeted at $1.5M, with Hope's share being half of profits from the Hope Enterprise four and 25% of same off the Para quartet. Plan was to burn through the lot within three years, Bob being nothing if not prolific where work was concerned. Signatories to the bargain included television hirers as well, negotiation taking on League Of Nations aspect, at least in terms of complex terms and a novel-length agreement.

A Lemon Drop Break To Appear with Les Brown and Band Of Renown at Union Rally

Larry Stops Over From Carrie For a Visit
Crucial clause of pacting was negatives reverting to BH after Paramount distribution of Hope Enterprisers in first-run, this generating gifts that would keep on giving ... to Bob. TV stations in the 60's renewed value of the package by grabbing the Hopes at premium price (each expected to garner $150K in first sales) after the group came available to syndication in 1963 --- these among most valuable fillers around. We'd get The Lemon Drop Kid and others of the group on weekend afternoons from Channel 9-Charlotte, and now it's Shout! Factory distributing the Hope-owned backlog, with quality variable in DVD releases so far. Much of the lot exists in High-Definition --- four were issued as such years back on the old HD-DVD format, and looked fine, but who's got equipment to play them? (my HD-DVD player gave up and quit soon after Blu-Ray swept the format away)

Happy and reliable product of most Hopes, including The Lemon Drop Kid, was cast list filled with vaud vets he sidled since Palace and elsewhere days --- Bill Frawley, Jay C. Flippen, others glimpsed. One named Charles Cooley went all the way back to when teenaged Bob hustled at pool in Cleveland. In fact, it was Charlie who boosted Bob to a first meaningful job as vaud emcee in 1928. By way of reward for continued loyalty, he'd join and stay with the team for a lifetime, acting as personal masseur for Hope when he wasn't stooging at camp shows and tee-vee background. The Lemon Drop box was thus a who's-who of vets and novelty newcomers, something for everyone then/now, as for instance, Ed Wood-workers today who thrill at Tor Johnson dialoguing with Bob as opposed to his customary mute presence. If Tor had a Greatest (Mainstream) Role, The Lemon Drop Kid was it.

Sign Right Here, Says Para Chieftains, and a Historic Deal Is Done

Lemon Drop's story has a Yule theme, so it plays best in the season; holiday standard Silver Bells was introduced here, Bob and Marilyn Maxwell walking along snowy and busily shopped Para backlot streets, a nostalgic stroll for watchers as well. The Lemon Drop Kid was based on Damon Runyon and remade from a 1934 comedy with Lee Tracy. Runyon's name meant plenty and got possessory credit over the title. Producer Robert L. Welsh installed racing tout and "chum" to the stars "Society Kid" Hogan as technical advisor on The Lemon Drop Kid, Hogan having been inspiration for certain of Damon Runyon stories. Gamblers were compatible with vaudevillians, so Lemon Drop's set was happy reunion for those who'd made careers chance-taking. The Lemon Drop Kid comes closest to a Hope vehicle where he embraces life of crime, the quick-con artist here not far removed from pool-hustling Bob of aforementioned beginnings.

Now with regards Silver Bells: The Jay Livingston-Ray Evans song was spotted early for a hit by anyone with ears ... a possible standard, in fact, which indeed it became. Paramount and its tuning arm, Famous Music, had something with plus value to exploit in very plus terms, six records to be released with various artists trilling the number, including Bing Crosby, Doris Day, Margaret Whiting, Jimmy Wakely, others. Para put eight men in the field to lean on disc spinners nationwide, goal being to have Silver Bells played on heavy rotation for at least a six-day period beginning November 6, 1951. The Lemon Drop Kid was squeezed out by then, but this song would survive it, by generations as things worked out. The studio's was a "concentrated plug" and experimental toward showing what a tune might do given sustained push by "nearly all of the firms' manpower," said Variety. Further advantage to effort was opportunity for the field force to form personal rather than purely biz relations with dee-jays that would profit later when Para and Famous returned to promote further music.

More Bob Hope at Greenbriar Archives: Shop Talk, Variety Girl, Parts One and Two, Son Of Paleface, Parts One and Two, The Facts Of Life, and It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Bob Hope Comeback.
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