“MISTER CRISTOFO COLOMBO”: BING, LOUIS, PHIL, FRANK, DOROTHY and MORE (1950)

Thanks to the tireless Franz Hoffmann, here is a Bing / Louis sighting I had never seen before — a staged “impromptu” romp on a train from HERE COMES THE GROOM, a 1950 film.  The “song” is in praise of Christopher Columbus, who in those Cold War times, is heralded as the man who made the unique freedoms of the USA possible.  Rather unsubtly.  The Commies were watching these musicals and trembling, perhaps, at the “opening of freedom’s door”?

I prefer Fats Waller’s version of the “discovery” of “America,” myself.

It seems that Bing enlisted all his friends for this Paramount film and this number: Dorothy Lamour, Louis, Phil Harris, Cass Daley, Frank Fontaine.  Austin J. Casey, connoisseur of such things, points out that the man to Bing’s left (twenty seconds) sang tenor with the Modernaires.  In some ways, it is a development of the bus-mania of the Thirties, where Clark Gable could get everyone to sing THE MAN ON THE FLYING TRAPEZE in the 1934 IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT.

I find it a fascinating example of how cruel old-fashioned humor was and how (I hope) it seems painful now: Cass Daley’s crossed eyes are nothing to “Crazy Guggenheim,” Fontaine’s intellectually-challenged character — a staple of Jackie Gleason’s television shows — his “Crazy Guggenheim” a mask for his lovely singing voice.  But this was the era of the “moron” joke, so “Crazy” gets the last . . . word?

But any opportunity, no matter how vapid the material, to see Bing and Louis in each other’s company, uplifts.

May your happiness increase.

6 responses to ““MISTER CRISTOFO COLOMBO”: BING, LOUIS, PHIL, FRANK, DOROTHY and MORE (1950)

  1. I wonder who the other trumpeter is? He looks vaguely familiar – I guess one of the Hollywood studio gang.

  2. Is he actually playing? I couldn’t tell —

  3. I believe he is. If he’s not on the soundtrack (recorded separately – of course), he at least is a real musician. He looks a little like an LA guy named Bob Higgins. It might be him. As a horn geek I know he’s playing a Conn trumpet!

  4. Yes – he is indeed playing on the soundtrack.

  5. excruciating material but Louis as usual makes jewels from detritus.

  6. A corrective note about the cringe-inducing “humor” of Frank Fontaine. This clip predates the “Crazy Guggenheim” character of the Jackie Gleason show. At the time, he was known as “John L.C. Silvoney,” a character he played on the radio. (You can hear him say his name on the clip.) Different name, same character: a distinction without a difference. Ugh.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s