NYC Film Festival July 20-26

Lee posted 07/20/05 10:03 AM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Since I'm a hermit I won't be going, but these announcements make me more mad than happy. Mad because these great restored or newly found bits of film are NOT being released or made available to either Bing fans or the public. At least with Festival Films the Bing rarities were available to Bing collectors. Wouldn't it be great if Festival Films or any related Bing organization could offer "Anything Goes" and "High Tor" to all of the Bing collectors instead of the relative few who will only be able to go to this festival and watch the shows. Instead of having these items only shown to a relative few Bing people, they should be made available to all Bing collectors on DVD. I'd be happy to buy a High Tor and an Anything Goes restored DVD. and if you want to have a festival too, then go ahead, but more important is these things be made available to at least Bing collector's to buy. Festival Shmestival, I want the DVDs.
Vinny Terranova posted 07/20/05 02:20 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Lee, as much as I understand your dismay, there is another way to view great shows. If you plan on a future trip to NEW York City, there is the Museum of Broadcast library, where I go to view great tv shows. ( some with Bing, frank, elvis ,ella ,etc) Also most Bing movies are available on cheap dvds in the nyc area.
Judy Schmid posted 07/21/05 08:42 AM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Hi folks - I'm here in NYC for another 24 hrs and will only be able to catch 2 films today, but seeing Bing on the big screen is a real treat, not having that opportunity when the films were new...High Society and I were born in the same year... ;-) It's fun getting together w/friends - Eileen and Stephanie (and baby Marie) from Gonzaga, Gary G and his wife, Jane S and her friend Mary, The Pat(ti)s..Martin and Karen..Sally...Carmela and mom...even Sarbo (LOL!)..and Kathryn and her daughter-in-law Michaela - I'm just sorry I have a limited budget and limited time - but it's certainly GREAT being surrounded by Bing-appreciators...
Carmela posted 07/21/05 08:40 PM Central Time (US)     No E-mail no email address given
I had a Great time yesterday at Lincoln Center with all the Bing Gals and Guys.Judy, I enjoyed "Going Hollywood" so much on the Big Screen! Bing's voice filled the theater! What an experience! My mom said all she heard was me, you and Eileen laughing through the whole movie. I am so sorry I didn't think to sit near you Gals. I met someone I haven't seen since High School. Dawn, it was nice seeing you again! Martin, Pat Kenny, Ron, Bruce and the rest always a pleasure to get-together with all of you!
Lisa Curtis, GO Brooklyn editor posted 07/23/05 03:34 PM Central Time (US)     No E-mail no email address given
Watching the microphone-wielding cabaret singer, dressed in a black bow tie and white, double-breasted jacket, at the Triad Theatre in Manhattan Tuesday night was a blast from the past, indeed. Bay Ridge native Martin McQuade sang Bing Crosby songs from the 1930s, '40s and '50s, and even showed off the crooner's merchandise from that time period: a vintage mousetrap and ice cream box. The theme of his unorthodox set, accompanied by Dave Gross on piano, was celebrating the work of the legendary Crosby. While the overwhelmingly positive songs were from Crosby's numerous films, the household items were examples of the singer-actor's entrepreneurial prowess, helming Crosby Enterprises, which not only made mousetraps and coffee filters, but also emblazoned his name and visage on the packaging a la Paul Newman. Among the members in the candlelit audience sipping their cocktails and singing along was Crosby's widow, Kathryn, who had traveled from Nevada for this month's cinematic tribute to her husband at the Film Society of Lincoln Center. That retrospective of Crosby's movie career, "What a Swell Party This Is!," continues through July 26 and is co-curated by McQuade. In addition to performing Crosby's songs and collecting "Crosby-anna," McQuade, 52, is Mrs. Crosby's special events coordinator and her public relations manager when she's in New York, he told GO Brooklyn. The surprising partnership between the owner of the now-defunct Flotsam and Jetsam memorabilia store in Bay Ridge and the former Hollywood actress, who was married to Crosby for 20 years, was sparked by their meeting at Hofstra University in 2001. The school was presenting a symposium in honor of the centennial of Crosby's birth, and it was here that McQuade "gathered his courage" and offered to give Mrs. Crosby a tour of an exhibit he curated about Bing.

Now the duo routinely pair up in Brooklyn for tributes to Crosby's work, whether at the Fort Hamilton Army Base in honor of Crosby's contributions to the U.S.O. or at bookstores where Mrs. Crosby, 72, signs copies of her books, "My Life with Bing," "My First Years with Bing," and "My Last Years with Bing." Their shared mission is keeping Crosby's legacy alive. Like a minister's wife - albeit a svelte, glamorous one decked out in sparkling jewels - Mrs. Crosby patiently and graciously greeted the swarm of Bing's fans and former colleagues that approached her before and after McQuade's concert.

As McQuade is quick to point out, Crosby was a star on the big screen as well as on radio and on television during his career, which spanned 1930 to 1966. According to McQuade, who describes himself as being "bonkers over him," Crosby introduced 14 Oscar-nominated songs and four Oscar-winners and was the first musical star to win a Best Actor Academy Award (for Leo McCarey's 1944 film "Going My Way"). His recording of "White Christmas" remains, after 65 years, the best-selling record of all time, said McQuade, with 50 million copies sold. Despite these awards and accomplishments, McQuade said there has never been a retrospective of his films, and he likened Crosby's disappearance from popular culture to an eclipse.

"[McQuade] has tremendous knowledge about Bing Crosby's career," said the Film Society Of Lincoln Center's Joanna Ney, who collaborated with McQuade on the film series. "He's devoted himself to Bing Crosby. He's a Crosby historian and he, along with Mrs. Kathryn Crosby, brought to light that nothing had been done for Bing, this extraordinary talent."

Mrs. Crosby, who's played opposite Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon in the course of her own movie career, will introduce "High Tor," on July 24 at the Film Society retrospective. Directed by James Nielsen, the 1956 film is considered the first made-for-TV movie.

Crosby had intended to release "High Tor," named for a mountain in Connecticut, as a theatrical feature after its broadcast, but thought the set looked too artificial on the big screen, Mrs. Crosby told GO Brooklyn.

"He didn't like the papier mache rocks, but I think it's great fantasy. It's very charming," she said. Based on a play by Maxwell Anderson, "High Tor" is a ghost story with a young Julie Andrews making her screen debut as the phantom (prior to her Broadway stardom in "My Fair Lady"). The movie was only broadcast once on TV, and has never been seen as the Film Society will screen it - uncut and without commercials. It was a real coup when Mrs. Crosby found the archival print on "a shelf in the basement after 50 years," she told GO Brooklyn.

Among the upcoming films in the series, which began on Wednesday, are "High Society" (1956), "Blue Skies" (1946), "Robin and the Seven Hoods" (1964), a new print of "High Time" (1960) and "Going My Way." McQuade, whose father was a film projectionist and ignited his Bing "fascination and obsession" by buying the crooner's albums for him, will be introducing many of the films. "[Crosby] had a unique personality, and people watching or listening to him felt as though they knew him," said McQuade, explaining Bing's enormous popularity. "He comforted them through the Depression and World War II." The Bing devotee can go on for hours about Crosby's accomplishments, and it's not likely that his Bing tributes will come to an end anytime soon. In fact, he's planning to perform another musical homage on July 27 at the Greenhouse Cafe in Bay Ridge and says plans are in the works for a Bing retrospective at the Museum of Television and Radio.

"[Crosby's] approach to singing is devoid of artifice. It's very honest and sincere," said McQuade. "Dean Martin said it best when he said, 'A song's best friend is Bing Crosby.'

Bing had tremendous talent and technique but it was always in service to the song."
Jim Kukura posted 07/25/05 01:46 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
I spent most of Sunday at the Walter Read Theater at the Lincoln Center. There was a dealy on my NJTransit train and we were held at the Secaucus NJ station because of some problem at Penn Station in NYC. I finally decided to take their offer to transfer to an AMTrak train to Hoboken (didn't some famous singer come from there) and then take the Path Tubes into the city. As a result, I missed about half of the first film, "Road To Zanzibar". The next film, "Going My Way" was introduced by Gary Giddins. As Gary was telling behind-the-scenes stories and setting up the film, he asked if there was anyone who had never seen the film, and I was quite surprised by how many hands went up. There were quite a good percentage of young viewers in attendance, and it was a hoot to hear them all laughing out loud at things I have seen dozens, or maybe hundreds of times. The film was well received, and why not, it is a timeless story of the good we would all like to see in everyone more often.

The next screening was "High Tor", eagerly anticipated by those who have never seen it, or as in my case, seen only in a poor kinoscope copy. "Road to Zanzibar" and "Going My Way" only had the theater 20% or so full. "High Tor" was more than 50% full. It was introduced by Kathryn Crosby who received a very warm reception. No disappointment in the 35mm film quality. It was great. Julie Andrews was as fantastic as Bing. Nancy Olsen, Everet Sloan, Hans Conreid and the rest were good too. There was that terrible scare when the film broke and we could see a shadow of the film burning on the screen. As Ron says, they got it up and running again in quick order. I just pray they duplicated the copy they found in Bing's collection before they burnt part of what we witnessed. I also noticed a generation gap here as there was laughter from the audience where there wasn't anything funny. I can only presume that they were laughing at the less then convincing stroyline, which is supposed to be a fantasy, or the admittedly dated scenery.

In any event, I know Bing did not want this commercially issued because of the lack of quality of the scenery, but since it is out there, and the kinoscope copy makes the scenery look even worse, I hope Kathryn or whomever makes those decisions, will alow this 35mm version to be issued for the many Bing fans who truly appreciate this treasure.
And that brings up another question. If this 35mm version was shot seperately from that kinoscope version, would that mean the the angles would be slightly different in the two versions since two cameras could not possibly be filming from the exact same postion. Anybody in the know? I wish I could find my copy and make my own comparison while what I saw is still fresh in my mind. or what's left of my mind.

Finally, we saw "Rhythm On The River", introduced by Martin McQuade. The audience size went down to about 20% again, but the film seemed appreciated by all there.

I did get a chance to speak with Joe Franklin, he of radio and TV interview fame. Many of us saw his show with Bing and Kathryn at Hofstra. He was very gracious and spoke to me two or three different times. I also managed to speak briefly with Kathryn and get her to sign a brief note to my dad. He has been a Bing fan for 75 years and I felt he deserved it more than me.

I'll be back on Tuesday for the final two films. Anyone for dinner afterwards?
Dave Foe posted 07/25/05 08:39 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Jim, the kinescope is simply a copy of the movie as it was broadcast. In the days of live TV, they filmed the image and that is what a kinescope is. Same as the filmed version, only the quality is not as good.
Jim Kukura posted 07/27/05 01:06 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Went to the finale on Tuesday. Missed the first 40 minutes, but my fault this time. Left the house 15 minutes late and made stops at the bank, to gas up old Betsy, and stop at the Post Office. Saw most of "Emperor Waltz" and all of "Rhythm On The River". There was actually a round of applause from those in attendance when Bing did his drumming in the pawn shop.

I introduced myself to Martin McQuade and we had a fast chit-chat. The 35mm film of "High Tor", which broke at Sunday's viewing, was the original from the Crosby collection, but the good news is they only lost two or three frames. Martin also held out some hope that this 35mm print might be made commercially available some day, which I strongly encouraged to make a reality.

A really enjoyable experience overall. Hopefully there will be other such events in the future where we Crosby fans can get together and watch others, mostly young adults, discover Bing's talents, and where we can learn and exchange information about our man, Der Bingle.

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