Singer Denny Martin's marriage to telephone operator Mary Wilson has been postponed several times already and is delayed once again when he changes jobs from singing telegrams to being a singing cab driver. His friend Cyrus Barrett Jr. is the scion of an autocratic millionaire father who is determined to wrest custody of his grandson from his alcoholic son and wife Mona. After Cyrus goes into rehab to dry out on Denny's advice, Barrett Sr. legally moves against his daughter-in-law and tries to have her arrested on kidnapping charges. A desperate Mona leaves Denny in charge of her infant son until she can locate the younger Barrett, but this presents new complications for Denny and his Russisn roommate Nicky as fiancée Mary becomes suspicious that Denny may be seeing another woman. Written by
Russian Mischa Auer's Nicky character utters the malapropism, "Include me out!" popularly attributed to producer Samuel Goldwyn, who was born in Poland in 1879, when it was the part of the Russian Empire. Goldwyn was infamous for his "Goldwynisms." See more »
EAST SIDE OF HEAVEN (Universal, 1939), directed by David Butler, features Bing Crosby, on loan from Paramount, his first starring role for Universal, where he made his debut appearing as one of the Rhythm Boys in THE KING OF JAZZ (1930). Working opposite Joan Blondell for the only time on screen, his competition for this production happens to be an infant named Baby Sandy Henville, in her motion picture debut, billed simply as Sandy. Although not the initial opener to the short lived "Baby Sandy" series, it did introduce little Sandy to movie audiences, with her character in the plot being a boy.
Set in New York City, this good-natured story finds Denny Martin (Bing Crosby) working for Postal Union where he sings telegram messages to customers over the telephone. Aside from sharing an apartment with his Russian born friend, Nicky (Mischa Auer), who lives on astrology readings and wears a bathrobe with the inscription on the back, "Moscow Golden Gloves 1919," Denny is also engaged to Mary Wilson (Joan Blondell), an attractive switchboard operator at the Hotel Raleigh who is loved by Claudius De Wolfe (Jerome Cowan), a radio reporter for the Federal Broadcasting Station, whose catch phrase is, "Are you happy, honey?" and who makes ever effort coming between Mary and Denny. Denny's wedding has been postponed three times already and now a fourth after losing his job for speaking out of turn to millionaire Cyrus Barrett Sr. (C. Aubrey Smith), DeWolfe's sponsor, for interfering into the lives of his good friend, Mona (Irene Hervey) and her husband, Cyrus Barrett Jr. (Robert Kent). Denny's unemployment lasts only a day, having acquired a job the next morning for the Sunbean Cab Company as a "Cruising Troubador" taxi driver singing to his passengers. All goes well until Denny encounters Mona and her infant son (Sandy), who confides in him about her unhappy marriage with her husband always out on drinking binges, thanks to his father. She now wants to locate Cyrus and save her marriage before it's is too late. Unable to break away from her child, whom the grandfather wants to take custody, Denny advises her to leave her baby with a friend she can trust. She does, Denny. Denny, who's never really been fond of children, learns how to act as father and guardian taking the responsibility keeping the renowned infant in his apartment and out of reach of detectives and nosy neighbors. Nicky, experienced in babysitting having raised his three younger brothers (who have since disappeared), helps care for the child by day. Having acquired a baby nearly breaks up his engagement when Mona mistakes Denny's "baby" for another woman. Things really get complicated when Denny returns to his apartment to find Nicky tied up with the baby gone. The next step is for Denny and Nicky to locate the baby before they become accused of kidnapping.
Good tunes by James V. Monaco and Johnny Burke include: "Sing a Song of Sunbeams" (sung by Bing Crosby); "Hang Your Heart on a Hickory Limb" (sung by Crosby and The Music Maids); "Sing a Song of Sunbeams" (reprise); "That Sly Old Gentleman" (sung by Crosby to Baby Sandy); "The East Side of Heaven," "That Sly Old Gentleman" and "The East Side of Heaven" (reprise).
Cleverly scripted and often amusing, especially with the comedy relief by Mischa Auer, placing babies with crooning actors is really nothing new. It's been done before, notably with Maurice Chevalier in A BEDTIME STORY (Paramount, 1933) where he plays a Frenchman who unwittingly becomes an adopted father to Baby LeRoy. Singing cab drivers has also been done before in "Broadway Gondolier" (Warners, 1935) starring Dick Powell. While it's unlikely to come across singing taxi drivers these days, it's anybody's guess the one portrayed by Crosby actually existed, considering the closing credits following the cast of players reading: The "cruising troubadour" suggested on Dave Howell's character.
Rarely seen since its presentation on public television in the 1980s, it's been resurrected as a DVD package tribute to Bing Crosby along with his other Universal venture, IF I HAD MY WAY (1940) in 2006. A feel good movie that should delight many Bing Crosby fans. "Are you happy, honey?" (***1/2)
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