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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

The real story

Author: Evannyny (Evannyny@nyc.rr.com) from New York City
15 October 2007

I would suggest that anyone interested in the story of the Star Maker, read the following book:

Bing Crosby: A Pocketful of Dreams - The Early Years 1903 - 1940 by Gary Giddins

It explains why the Star Maker which WAS supposed to be about the life and career of Gus Edwards, turned into a movie that was only suggested by the life of my GREAT UNCLE! Naturally I am a bit prejudiced, but I feel that this man was such a unique entertainment personality, that for Bing Crosby to use a different name in the movie, that is Larry Earl, rather than Gus Edwards, was truly a disgrace.

He could write songs, he could sing, he could act, he could produce. And could he ever find talent........... the greatest entertainment talent this country has ever known: Cantor, Jessel, Bolger, Hildegarde, Phil Silvers, Eleanor Powell, Georgie Price, Lila Lee....................

Perhaps a better appreciation of his abilities and achievements can be seen in the MGM classic with its all-star cast, "The Hollywood Review of 1929", for which he wrote most of the score and actually appeared in the movie several times, a movie nominated for Best Picture, no less.

Gus Edwards truly did it all, and yet the one movie about him did not tell the true story. Maybe a re-make is in order.

Evan, his great nephew, NYC 10/15/07

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Bing As Gus Edwards

8/10
Author: David Lobosco from United States
28 July 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

1939 is often cited as the greatest year for movies of all-time. Some of the most beloved movies like GONE WITH THE WIND and THE WIZARD OF OZ were released in that year. Paramount did not have the output that MGM had in the 1930s, but they did have a secret weapon in the form of Bing Crosby. Even though Bing was not yet considered an Oscar winning actor in 1939, he was making Paramount a lot of money. One of his best movies of 1939 was THE STAR MAKER which was directed by Roy Del Ruth.

The movie is based very loosely on the life of entertainer Gus Edwards. Edwards in the turn of the century discovered such future talent as Eddie Cantor, Walter Winchell, and George Jessel - just to name a few. The names were changed for the film and Bing starred as Larry Earl, an unsuccessful songwriter who decides to settle down with his new bride, Mary (Louise Campbell) and take a 9 to 5 job, only to realize that his true calling is show business. On his way home, he comes across some urchins singing and dancing on the streets for pennies, nickels and dimes, and decides to take these street kids to turn them into professional entertainers. With the assistance of his loving wife, who also contributes to her husband's plans, Larry's troupe of children grows and grows, making the use of their talents in vaudeville and later, after child labor laws step in, presenting them on radio and still succeeding into making them world famous.

When THE STAR MAKER used to make frequent television revivals on the late-late show some 20 years or so ago, TV Guide used to present it in its listing with its brief synopsis as a biography on pioneer showman Gus Edwards. While not really a biography on Edwards, it is probably suggested on the impresario's life and career. As usual, Bing Crosby's pleasing personality, singing and chemistry with the young kids makes this worthy family entertainment.

Louise Campbell (1911-1998) was very likable in the movie, and she had a huge resemblance to Mary Martin. Campbell was perfect as Crosby's Southern wife. Also there is that deadpan character actor Ned Sparks (1883-1957) playing agent "Speed" King, who not only partakes in Earl's theatrical troupe, but the old grouch must deal with these restless and sometimes rowdy children. Amusing moments include having him surrounded by the kids and reading to them a kiddie story and constantly getting interrupted by questions, and another having Speed finding himself quarantined in a train compartment full of kids for ten days after being exposed with one with the chickenpox.

THE STAR MAKER features a handful of old song standards, many written by Gus Edwards himself, sung mostly by Crosby, including: "Here Comes Jimmy Valentine"; "A Man and His Dream" (nice new song by Johnny Burke and James V. Monaco); "East Side, West Side" (instrumental); "If I Was a Millionaire"; "Go Fly a Kite"; "I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now?"; "Sunbonnet Sue" (sung by children); "I Can't Tell Why I Love You," "He's Me Pal," "In My Merry Oldsmobile"; Ludwig Von Beethoven's "Symphony # 5 in B Minor" (sung by Linda Ware); "The Darktown Stutters Ball" (sung by Ware); "An Apple For the Teacher"; "School Days"; "The Waltz of the Flowers" by Peter Tchaikovsky (sung by Ware at Carnegie Hall); and "Still the Blue Birds Sing" (new song by Burke and Monaco, sung by Crosby and children). Of all the songs sung in the movie, I think Bing's best number was "I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now?", which Bing did not record commercially - but a young fellow crooner by the name of Perry Como did.

THE STAR MAKER gives special screen billing to 14-year-old Linda Ware (1925-1975), making her movie debut, possibly Paramount's answer to Universal's singing sensation, Deanna Durbin. A good singer but not a convincing actress, Ware's career sadly didn't go very far after this. Also featured in the cast are Laura Hope Crews, Walter Damrosch as himself; Thurston Hall, Billy Gilbert and a very young Darryl Hickman as one of the dancing kids.

Long on songs and production numbers, and light on plot, THE STAR MAKER, while not as famous and popular as Crosby's other musical flicks, is still worth seeing, and then to sit back to wonder how good the movie itself would have been had it been a bio-pic on Gus Edwards himself, and the use of actual future performers he discovered appearing as themselves in songs and sketches that made them famous. In THE STAR MAKER, Bing was not kissing Vivien Leigh or dancing down the yellow brick road, but his journey in this film was enjoyable nevertheless...

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

A Man and His Dream

Author: lugonian from Kissimmee, Florida
27 June 2001

THE STAR MAKER (Paramount, 1939), directed by Roy Del Ruth, set in the early 20th century, stars Bing Crosby as Larry Earl, an unsuccessful songwriter who decides to settle down with his new bride, Mary (Louise Campbell) and take a 9 to 5 job, only to realize that his true calling is show business. On his way home, he comes across some urchins singing and dancing on the streets for pennies, nickels and dimes, and decides to take these street kids to turn them into professional entertainers. With the assistance of his loving wife, who also contributes to her husband's plans, Larry's troupe of children grows and grows, making the use of their talents in vaudeville and later, after child labor laws step in, presenting them on radio and still succeeding into making them world famous.

When THE STAR MAKER used to make frequent television revivals on the late-late show some 20 years or so ago, TV Guide used to present it in its listing with its brief synopsis as a biography on pioneer showman Gus Edwards. While not really a biography on Edwards, it is probably suggested on the impresario's life and career. As usual, Bing Crosby's pleasing personality, singing and chemistry with the young kids makes this worthy family entertainment. Aside from Louise Campbell as Crosby's Southern wife, there is that deadpan character actor Ned Sparks playing agent "Speed" King, who not only partakes in Earl's theatrical troupe, but the old grouch must deal with these restless and sometimes rowdy children. Amusing moments include having him surrounded by the kids and reading to them a kiddie story and constantly getting interrupted by questions, and another having Speed finding himself quarantined in a train compartment full of kids for ten days after being exposed with one with the chickenpox. Sparks' love/hate contribution with the children is as amusing as watching WC Fields' encounter with Baby LeRoy or any other Hollywood brat(s) - Grumpy on the outside but gentle on the inside.

THE STAR MAKER features a handful of old song standards, many written by Gus Edwards himself, sung mostly by Crosby, including: "Here Comes Jimmy Valentine"; "A Man and His Dream" (nice new song by Johnny Burke and James V. Monaco); "East Side, West Side" (instrumental); "If I Was a Millionaire"; "Go Fly a Kite"; "I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now?"; "Sunbonnet Sue" (sung by children); "I Can't Tell Why I Love You," "He's Me Pal," "In My Merry Oldsmobile"; Ludwig Von Beethoven's "Symphony # 5 in B Minor" (sung by Linda Ware); "The Darktown Stutters Ball" (sung by Ware); "An Apple For the Teacher"; "School Days"; "The Waltz of the Flowers" by Peter Tchaikovsky (sung by Ware at Carnegie Hall); and "Still the Blue Birds Sing" (new song by Burke and Monaco, sung by Crosby and children).

THE STAR MAKER gives special screen billing to 14-year-old Linda Ware, making her movie debut, possibly Paramount's answer to Universal's singing sensation, Deanna Durbin. A good singer but not a convincing actress, Ware's career sadly didn't go very far after this. Also featured in the cast are Laura Hope Crews, Walter Damrosch as himself; Thurston Hall, Billy Gilbert and a very young Darryl Hickman as one of the dancing kids.

Long on songs and production numbers, and light on plot, THE STAR MAKER, while not as famous and popular as Crosby's other musical flicks, is still worth seeing, and then to sit back to wonder how good the movie itself would have been had it been a bio-pic on Gus Edwards himself, and the use of actual future performers he discovered appearing as themselves in songs and sketches that made them famous. (***)

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

"Suggested by the career of Gus Edwards"

7/10
Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York
24 July 2004

When Paramount decided to make The Star Maker, stage mothers all over the country must have been grateful for the opportunity to get their little pride of joys a break into show business. Bing Crosby who had some of his best film moments with children never had to contend with so many of them.

The beginning credits state quite plainly that the film is "suggested by the career of Gus Edwards." Crosby's character is named Larry Earl so no one gets the idea this is biographical.

Gus Edwards was one of America's finest turn of the last century songwriters who did in fact hit on the idea of forming a theatrical troupe of talented youngsters, many of whom became stars in their own right in adulthood. Coming to mind immediately are Eddie Cantor and George Jessel who started out as adolescents with Edwards.

One of the scenes funniest moments involves a bit by Billy Gilbert trying to get one of his kids an audition. Of course that's redundant because Billy Gilbert was one of the funniest men in film and any moment with him is by definition, funny. Another moment involves a mother trying to get her daughter to sing for Crosby, giving him the opportunity to warble, I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now. I'm sure the real Gus Edwards went through thousands of moments like these.

Young Linda Ware was introduced here, presumably as Paramount's answer to Deanna Durbin. She sang some classical stuff real nice, but after another film was never heard from again.

Next to Ned Sparks, W.C. Fields was a Pollyanna, especially with children. Sparks was another of Hollywood's funniest men with those lines dripping with sarcasm and ill will. He has one very funny scene trying to read a bedtime story to Crosby's traveling troupe.

Jimmy Monaco and Johnny Burke wrote some new tunes for Bing and these were mixed in with some stuff by Gus Edwards and others of the period in a nice confection.

Others in the cast include Louise Campbell as Mrs. Crosby, Laura Hope Crews as Ware's mother and Thurston Hall as a theatrical producer.

Ms. Crews had a banner year in 1939, she was given her signature part as Aunt Pittypat Hamilton in Gone With The Wind.

One of the things I always criticize Paramount for is not giving Crosby's films the elaborate Busby Berkeley like numbers. Same is true here, especially with the show business background of the film. But I think that kind of theatrics would have overwhelmed the story about children.

I won't dispute Paramount when they say this is only suggested by Gus Edwards career.

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Ned Sparks and Children make this Bing Crosby musical

6/10
Author: boblipton from New York City
27 April 2017

Bing Crosby is Larry Earl -- actually a thinly disguised Gus Edwards, song writer, vaudeville star and producer of dozens of kiddie shows on the vaudeville circuit, ending a major star of 1930s radio. Like many a movie of this sort, it is a story of a rocky start, and then triumph after triumph, interspersed with musical numbers, most of which had their scores composed by Mr. Edwards.

It's very enjoyable for the music as Bing, loyal wife Louise Campbell and kid-hating publicity man Ned Sparks discover hundreds of talented young singers, dancers and young comics. Chief among them is 14-year-old Linda Ware, whom Paramount was clearly positioning to be their answer to Deanna Durbin and Judy Garland; she sings swing and classical music and winds up debuting for Walter Damrosch and his symphony orchestra.

Like many a movie of this type, it has only a hazy connection with any real time line. Everything seems to happen in a world that combines elements of the Mauve Decade with the 1920s and even 1930s, as the Child Welfare people shut down the kiddie shows across the nation on the same evening that Bing discovers radio and foresees its endless possibilities -- and a triumphant finale for him.

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