Rosemary Cloony, born and raised in Maysville, Kentucky, started singing here in Cincinnati, Ohio with her sister Betty on W.L.W. Radio, and then eventually Rosemary went to New York City and then eventually to Hollywood where she made a few films, but White Christmas was to be her most well known and successful film of her career. I remember when Rosemary made her debut in the movies in "The Stars Are Singing" and we were having exams in High School, so after the exams a friend of mine and I went to the Albee Theater and saw her walk in through the Vine Street Stage Door to the theater. Then between showings she got on the stage, sang some songs and talked about how it was so amazing to see herself on that big movie screen. So, years later, Rosemary's brother Nick would be our news anchor at W.K.R.C. television and then his son George Clooney, Rosemarys nephew, would make his mark in Hollywood as an excellent actor. Wonder where he got the talent from? So, Rosemary was on Tom Snyders Show on T.V. and he said, "I guess you're very proud of George, aren't you?" And she answered, "Oh, yes! But when he first came to Hollywood, all he wanted to do was sit on my couch, watch T.V., and drink beer. So, I had to kick his ass out of the house tell him to get a job!" So, back to White Christmas: One thing that people don't know is that Donald O'Connor was originally scheduled to play the Danny Kaye part but couldn't so he eventually played with Bing Crosby in the remake of "Anything Goes", and since Vera Ellen never really had a good singing voice, her voice double was usually Anita Ellis and for Call Me Madam, Carole Richards, who dubbed mostly for Cyd Charisse, but for White Christmas, when Vera Ellen is singing, that's really Rosemary's sister Betty Clooney dubbing for Vera Ellen's singing voice. By the way, Vera Ellen was born and raised in a section of Cincinnati, Ohio called Norwood! We can count our blessings that we have such wonderful entertainers from this city, including Doris Day, George Chakiris, Tyrone Power, and there's a rumor that Roy Rogers was born on the waterfront, and of course, the Looney Clooney's including George!
So, where did Disney get his idea for the multi-plane camera? Could it be that there were spy's at Paramount reporting to Disney that they had invented a two or three plane type of animation while they were producing Gulliver? But has anyone, today, known that Gulliver was produced in a 3-D version where you had to wear the 3-D glasses? For some reason it has never been shown in that format, the same as when 3-D was going out, they never played "The Day The Earth Stood Still" in the 3-D version and probably at this time it probably disintegrated long ago.
So, back to what I've said before: A lot of people who see these old movies, today, see them on television and not in the theaters as we did growing up. It's very easy to criticize an old movie like Gulliver's Travels and seeing what you might think are imperfections. Let's face the facts, when these features were made, they photographed on drawings that were about the size of a 21-inch television picture. You don't really see the beauty and entertainment value unless you see these old moves on the great big theater screen. None of you know what a marvel it was the first time you saw The Robe in Cinmascope with 3-channel stereophonic sound, or the thrill when Lowell Thomas said, "This Is Cinerama!" and how you sat there in awe while you felt you were actually on that roller-caster ride. Today, everything is wide-screen and an inferior stereophonic sound! It's just like going to another movie, except in our day to get in the movies you payed as a kid 10-cents and got a ten-cent bag of buttered popcorn with a newsreel, serial, previews of coming attractions, and 2 features. If you were an adult, you paid 25-cents and two bags of buttered popcorn would be 20-cents. So, you could take a date to the movies for 70-cents. We should have it so good today!
So, in Because You're Mine, you've got a great cast, great music with Mario Lanza singing Granada at the end of the movie looking like he was poured into his Army uniform which made him look a little larger than the uniform with the button about to pop, but we forgave him. Come on gang - this is Mario Lanza!
Now, we've got one problem with this movie. It's not a big problem but it's Doretta Morrow. Sure she can sing, beautifully, and she cat too. Well, no wonder. She was in the original Broadway cast of Kismet playing Marsinah in which Ann Blyth played the role in the movie version, but you couldn't see it on the stage, but Ms. Morrow always looked cross eyed on the screen, and after Lanza making a hit in Caruso singing Be My Love - did she really have too? At least they had the good sense not to make it a duet between here and Lanza.
So, when you come right down to it, the movie is very entertaining. Probably Mario Lana's best. He never sang better. And why isn't Kathryn Grayson in this movie instead of Doretta Morrow? Well, quite frankly, she and Mario Lanza did not like each other. In their two movies together, especially That Midnight Kiss, you could see something going on with her feelings for him, but they never made a match. Maybe she was personally afraid of him. Who knows? But there were a great singing team. It's a shame that they never made more movies together, but that was never to be! Once again, it's just a shame that movies like this cannot be seen on the big movie theater screen. That big screen makes the difference. Ask anyone who's recently seen The Wizard of Oz for the first time in a movie theater, or even one of you out there - then you'll know what I mean!
I loved every foot, minute, and second of this movie, but - with John Goodman playing the father, I almost expected Rosanne to show up and yell out, "Dannnnnnn! Becky's working in a trashy bar!"
I know I could probably get shot for saying so, but the script to The Wizard of Oz is horrible. I'm sure that the boys at M.G.M. probably thought to themselves, "What were we thinking when we agreed to this? We must have been drunk!" But, this shows what can be done by a very talented cast with great directions. There were many films like this that the heads of the studios thought would flop on its nose. Look at the Sound of Music. No one ever expected The Sound of Music to do what it did financially which saved 20th Century Fox to go under because of the Liz and Dick version of Cleopatra.
And to think that the studio bosses at M.G.M. wanted to delete Somewhere Over the Rainbow from the movie because they felt that the song stopped the film for no good reason at all. Of course, there were many headaches. Buddy Ebsen almost died from the Metalic Makeup. Gale Sondergaard want to look beautiful as the Wicked Witch much like the Queen in Disney's Snow White, but when they decided to make the Witch ugly, Sondergaard preferred her beauty - let her ego get in the way - and gave up beauty for characterization! Sad! I remember when the wide screens came out with stereophonic sound and the studios were trying to make films like The Wizard of Oz in a wide screen process. They were already recording stereophonic sound and didn't know it, so it was easy to remix the soundtracks into true stereophonic sound. There IS a wide screen version of The Wizard of Oz, but it is no longer available; the same as there IS a wide screen version of Gone With The Wind but no longer available.
But the talented cast with a talented director makes the script work and who knew that in the future this film would end up being a yearly event on television for all to see. Again, it's just a shame that this movie can't be enjoyed on the big screen in the movie theaters. That's a whole different ball game for all to really see what the Wizard of Oz is "really" all about!
It's true that Esther married Fernando in real life, but from what I remember, Lana Tuner was married to Lex Barker, and Arlene Dahl was married to Fernando Lamas, and they were a happy foursome so much that Turner divorced Barker, Dahl divorced Fernando, and then Dahly married Lex Barker and Lana Turner married Fernando Lamas, but before the divorces Arlene Dahl gave birth to Lorenzo Lamas who would go on to a somewhat fame in movies and T.V. but not with the stature and popularity of his father. Then much later, after filming Dangerous When Wet Fernando started dating Esther and Esthers film career was beginning to go downhill, and she was pretty well tired of making movies and when Fernando asked her to marry him, he asked her, "Can you stop being Esther Willimas?" and she gladly said, "Yes!" and she kept her word to the day Fernando died and didn't have anything to do with a career in show-business! Much later, Lorenzo was on, I believe, The Johnny Carson Show, and Carson asked him what is was like having Esther as a mother, and he proudly answered, "How many kids can claim they were taught to swim by Esther Williams?"
Here's in Cincinnati, Ohio, we have had our share of famous actors and actress' such as Doris Day, Tyrone Power, George Chikarus, Vera Ellen, and a very famous criminal with the initials of C.M. that we don't like to talk about. Harvey Evens is from our area. He had been studying dancing with Harris Rosedale, I know this to be a fact because I was there too, but his name was Harvey Honnacker. I guess he changed his last name to Evans because he couldn't get his last name up in lights. Too long. So, I remember one day he came into the studio and said, "I have nothing here" and went to study with Leo and Rita McNeil. Later he went to New York. Then he went to Hollywood where he did chorus work in The Pajama Game, West Side Story under his original name, and The Girl Most Likely. Later he did the T.V. version of Applause playing the gay hair-dresser and friend of Margo Channing played by Lauren Bacall. Since I knew LeRoy Reams who played the role originally, I asked LeRoy if he had recommended Harvey to play his role, and he said no; that he got it on his own. I'm not sure, but I heard through certain channels that Harvey passed away. What a talent he was. I remember seeing him in a dance recital given by the O'Neils when he was there and he sang a jazzed up version of Indian Love Call and did a dance ending up with his jumping up on the side on stage and back down like James Cagney did in Yankee Doodle Dandy. What a talent he was. It's just a shame he, like many others, were never allowed to show the full power of their talent in the entertainment field!
So, what's wrong with Belle of New York? Acutually nothing. It was a fantasy and Astaire didn't feel to good about making a fantasy film. He admits in his autobiography that he believed that the film would play very well today. It was just the wrong timing, and here we go with the films that flop, like a bottle of wine, age with time and finally become the hit they should have in their initial release.
But, there are good songs and dance numbers. Once again, Anita Ellis ghost sings for Vera Ellen in "Naughty Butg Nice". Majorie Main is, well, Marjorie Main, but the dancing in the air over the city is a little much even for Fred Astair and at the end when he and Vera Ellen finally fall in love and dance over the city in the air, Astaire stated that he knew where they stood with this one when he and Vera Ellen are dancing in the air at the end and some woman watching the end said in earshot of Astaire, "Well, how silly can you get!" And Astaire said, "We then knew where we stood with this one!" But, he also said that even if the movie is a flop or not, at least you get paid, and how much did he admit to, "Once again, for making the film, I got a fortune!" It one of the That's Entertainment movies, Debbie Reynolds had us see how much of a perfectionist Astaire was by screening the different versions of "I Wanna Be A Dancin' Man" side by side, and in another That's Entertainment movie, Gene Kelly asked Fred Astaire, "Is it true that you once said that all you wanted to do was be a dancin' man, and Astaire said, "That's not true at all! I never said that!" And immediately, they played the number from "The Belle of New York"! But, Fred was right about one thing, the movie DOES play very well today, and is very entertaining. Once again, it was just too far ahead of its time and needed to age like a good bottle of wine! Guess what? It aged beautifully!
When Alice first came out, there were just a few people, like myself, who really liked it, but in it's initial release it flopped at the box office, and it was years before Disney entertained the idea of ever releasing it again, but then something happened. There was a museum, forget which one it was, in New York City, that was having a Disney Film Festival and they asked people to request the Disney films that they would like to see, and an amazing thing happened that the most requested was Alice In Wonderland. So, after the overwhelming response, Disney re-released Alice and it finally gained the popularity that it deserves and it's charm has been charming audiences at home ever since.
But, this is typical of some films. In their initial release the were flops, but years later, like a good bottle of wine, the films age and finally become the hit films that they should be, but I think it goes further than just that. I believe that Disney's version of Alice In Wonderland was just too ahead of its time, and I think that that is what has made it such a hit today. Let's face it, the same thing happened to Fantasia that happened to Alice. Fantasia finally got the popularity that it really deserved when it played for many years in San Francisco, but that was because the pot smokers watched it under the influence and with the stereophonic sound, ran for many years! It may not have been the way Disney would have liked the movie to become famous, but nevertheless - it did!
Disney artists were interviewed and they all claimed that Disney was very unhappy with the way the project was going, but the artists would look at the rushes and everyone ended up trying to out-do everyone else with making the characters out if left field, but through it all, the one who steals the show is the very laid back Cheshire Cat. "Can you stand on your head?" It's admitted that the score for Alice is the best that Disney had in any of his movies, and even though out of release until the Museams Art Festival, the score has always been very popular! True, this is not Disney's best, but - of all his movies, it's the most fun!