East Side of Heaven

Lee posted 08/16/04 02:52 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Well, Bingsters I had a chance to watch our August movie, East Side of Heaven this past weekend. Well, I'm not sure if it was because I was watching it so late (3 am) or because I wasn't thrilled with the movie that I found myself wishing it would get over duing the last 1/2. Bing looked great in it, just as he does in his pictures, but my problem was there was way too much complicated plotlines going on. The movie didn't seem to know whether it was a drama or a light comedy or a musical. It was sort of a mish mash of all I suppose. The plot was tedious and of the who cares variety. It was also a bit in the Bizarro World variety, unless you consider singing cabdrivers who sing to all their customers and then don't charge them when they arrive realistic. The baby was cute, I thought at first, but then when it smiled it had such big choppers I thought they must have put false teeth in the kid. Looked strange such a little baby with Tiger size teeth. Joan Blondell, Bing's girl in the movie also didn't seem like the usual kind of girl Bing's with in movies. Though come to think of it she did resemble Dixie in real life, same hair style and general look. But I didn't like the Blondell character's looks so I could have cared less whether she wound up with Bing or not. The whole movie just sort of dragged along with forgettable songs thrown in every 20 minutes or so. My favorite scene in the whole movie, as when Bing sang in the restaurant and the rotund lady manager along with the hot waitresses all joined in singing together in harmony. I believe the waitresses were played by the Music Maids who sang back-up for Bing on some of his Decca records. They were all cute though. I would have rather one of them play Bing's love interest. The last 1/2 hour of the movie I forced myself to stay awake to watch. Maybe I should have watched this earlier and I wouldn't have such a negative memory of it. All in all, I'd give this either one or 2 stars. Nothing great but then not Bing's worse either. There just wasn't that light comedic touch that Bing's better movies have. There was too much "melodrama" and added to the serious drama at the same time were too many goofy characters hamming it up during the life and death situations. The movie just couldn't be happy to be a comedy with music, it had to throw in the histrionic dramatics which made it all too ridiculous to believe. Ugh, let's just say I was glad when it was over.
DEAN posted 08/24/04 02:02 PM Central Time (US)     No E-mail no email address given

Unless Lee has had me drummed out of the film club I know he wouldn't forgive me if I didn't put in a few well judged opinions. Here goes--

Some time since I've seen this one. Bing in great voice with some good songs that he gets to sing all the way through for once. I don't think any of his co-stars enriched the film. Mischa Auer/ Uer/ Oura!!! Oh that Russian bloke, you know. He did his act as usual and the film is pleasant rather than arresting with Bing in his absolute prime showing the world what it is badly missing.

"Welcome Stranger" or " Holiday Inn" it isn't; but then, what is?
Old C. Aubrey Smith does his disgruntled old man bit. Did you know that he captained the first ever England cricket team to South Africa in the late nineteenth century? Now that I'm back you'll get many more thrilling snippets like that. Isn't that great?
Lars posted 08/25/04 03:34 AM Central Time (US)     No E-mail no email address given
East side of heaven is one of the handful Crosby movies that I don't have in my collection so I really can't contribute any personal reflections this month but I will with great interest read what the rest of you have to say on ther subject... BTW great to see you're back Dean old chum. It feels like old times already - and I'll keep the motor running if you need a quick getaway, Lefty....?
Wendy Mahoney posted 09/01/04 03:01 AM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Hi folks, I haven't seen this movie before and approached it with my usual fear that being an early Bing movie, I wouldn't like it very much. Well I'm here to tell you that surprisingly I did enjoy it. I just blocked out the silly plot and things that wouldn't happen in real life, and just enjoyed it for what it was. I loved Bing's singing throughout and my favourites were "Sing A Song of Sunbeams" (I love the words) and "East Side of Heaven".

My favourite bit in the movie (although I too enjoyed the Music Maids) was Bing's inter-action with the baby, particularly the first bit when the baby got dumped in the cab with him. Bing seemed so at ease with the baby which was indeed gorgeous! Overall a nice little bit of nonsense which I will definitely watch once a year.

Sorry, not much more to say, as it's all been said but just wanted to contribute my two bob's worth!

Jim Kukura posted 09/26/04 10:08 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
I'm terribly late I know, but I just received this film and here I am to weigh in with my review, late or not.

I liked the film. Certainly not in a class with Bing's best films, but a nice improvement over most of his earlier efforts. By this time, Bing's acting was quite polished and natural. The stiffness of his earlier films was gone and he just flowed with the dialogue. The storyline, while not completely unbeleivable, was a bit far out, but certainly no further out than the widely acclaimed "Road" pictures(the first of which was only two films away for Bing). Sometimes you just have to accept the storyline if you want to enjoy the film. 1939 was a tough year in movies, competing with such heavyweight offerings as "Gone With The Wind", "Wizard Of Oz", and "Stagecoach" (which Bing would star in the 1966 remake of) among others. So it is no wonder that "East Side Of Heaven" is all but forgotten.

I liked the cast and thought everyone did a credible job in playing their role. Joan Blondell was a little bit off the standard Bing love interest, but she was still a good fit for this particular character. Mischa Auer, The comedy releif for the film, was again not typical Crosby foil material, but did okay and played off Crosby's character just fine. The baby was really cute, but with that big split front toothly grin, I thought I was looking at Earnest Borgnine as a baby.

We all know that these early films were just vehicles for Bing to sing. James V. Monaco and Johnny Burke get a B+ from me for this score. The title song, "East Side Of Heaven", is easily the best song in the film, and that is what the public thought in 1939 when that song reached number 6 on the charts. "Sing A Song Of Sunbeams" fared almost as well by getting up to the number 8 chart position. And Finally, "That Sly Old Gentleman (From Featherbed Lane)" topped at the number 10 chart position. Not making the charts (that only went up to number 20 in those days) was "Hang Your Heart On A Hickory Limb", and that was a pretty nice ditty itself.

It was good to see the Music Maids in tht big production number in the cafe. They would back Bing on a few Decca records and many a radio program over the years. Appearing with no lines, and unbilled, was Sterling Holloway playing an accordian with the band, so I have to presume he could really play that thing. He'll show up again in "Dr Rhythm", with plenty of lines. There was a reference to Atlantic City early in the film, another case of Bing mentioning a New Jersey city in one of his films. Also, in the very beginning, Bing is singing Western Union messages on the phone, and one such request is to Mr and Mrs James Monaco, one of the film's songwriters. Then there is Matty Malneck and his Orchestra in the film, who I beleive goes back to Bing's Whiteman days. I don't know if the guy who played the bandleader at the end of the film was Matty or not, but it looked like the same guy who had a bit part in "Holiday Inn" and announced from the dance floor that Astaire's drunken dance was only a gag. And of course the was Bing with a pipe at some point in the film, and his common practice of lighting a match with his fingernail.

All in all, a nice entertaining 83 minutes, and one that should be dusted off at least one a year and enjoyed.
Arne posted 09/27/04 05:17 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Great commentary, Jim, but actually, I have to tell you that it wasn't Sterling Holloway on accordion (looked like him, though!) it was a young Milton DeLugg, who also plays beautifully on Bing's records of "Stardust" and "Deep Purple" from around the same period, with Matty Malneck's group, also featured in the film during this "Hickory" number. DeLugg went on to lead the bands for various shows during the early days of TV (I remember his name being mentioned frequently on the "Paul Winchell and Jerry Mahoney Show" when I was a kid) and earned a kind of negative fame as Chuck Barris' music director on the "Gong Show" in the 70s - "Milton DeLugg and his Band with a Thug"....
Jim Kukura posted 09/28/04 11:31 AM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Arne, thanks for the information on the Sterling Holloway look-a-like. I know that it did not make sense to have Sterling in such a role and not utilize his comedic talents. But then I couldn't see two different people looking like that in Bing films either. I guess that should be a lesson to do my homework better. Who'da thunk?
Pete posted 01/22/05 09:47 AM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
I recall "East Side of Heaven" as a youth (Rivoli theater in Berkeley CA) and was totally fetched with it, and can to this day still play the title tune on a piano and sing the lyrics. It was, admittedly, fluff, but enjoyably so. It was the kind of picture you could sit back and enjoy as entertainment and not try to find social statements or analyze production values. I just wish I could find a copy to rekindle those warm days.

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