Saturday, April 10, 2010

Musical Interlude #3

Normally somewhere around here I'd pass along my pick for the year's best musical performance in a movie—not necessarily an original song or even the best song, but the most effective use of a song.

Well, the fact is by 1932, the Hollywood musical was dead and except for Ernst Lubitsch's operetta One Hour With You, songs were pretty much limited to shorts and cartoons, foreign films such as À Nous La Liberté and that's about it. In the early days of sound, the less creative minds hanging around Hollywood's studios—which is to say, most of the producers, directors, writers, and practically all of the guys who signed the checks—had no real idea what to do with the new sound technology so they just kept recycling The Jazz Singer, which is to say, a song here and a song there, even in movies where songs had no business being.

As it turned out, audiences weren't nearly as stupid as Holly- wood thought they were and by 1930, they were sick of it, so much so that studios started cutting songs out of movies, even from movies like, oh, musicals that were supposed to have songs. Jonas Nordin over at the blog "All Talking! All Singing! All Dancing!" has written in detail about this anti-musical backlash and has included some pretty interesting clips to back up the discussion. (I suggest you drop in there and take a look.)

Which is to say, choices for best musical interlude of 1931-32 are few and far between.

Fortunately, there was one musical performance that stands out from the year, at least in my mind, even if the guy singing the song, Maurice Chevalier, isn't even in the movie. Given some of my readers' aversion to Chevalier (words like "frightening" and "demented" have been bandied about), perhaps this is a good thing.

Anyway, without further ado, here's "You Brought A New Kind Of Love To Me" from the Marx Brothers comedy Monkey Business, words and music by Sammy Fain, Irving Kahal and Pierre Norman, sung by Zeppo, Chico, Groucho and Maurice Chevalier.


Mythical Monkey said...

By the way, the essay on best picture is up to around 1700 words and I haven't even finished typing up my notes, much less started filling in the blanks and adding the connective tissue. It's one of those kitchen sink sort of essays we here at the Monkey like to task your patience with from time to time.

Who Am Us Anyway? said...

"If the nightingales could sing like you, they'd sing much sweeter than they do"" ... thank god, that's nowhere near as frightening as The Great Frenchman's psychotic cover of ez-zhol-ly Olde Saint Neek-o-Lawsh, none of that weesper-ink wot he breeng me to me, none of that rabid, mouth-foaming, John Gacy friendly lil' number here thank god.

But I STILL prefer der Bingle!

P.S. Great post as always, Myth

Mythical Monkey said...

But I STILL prefer der Bingle!

This may be hard to believe for those readers who only remember Bing Crosby as a guy who sold orange juice and hosted Christmas specials every year, but in the 1930s and 1940s he was the biggest thing in music, bar none. Definitely worth digging up some of those old records ...

Click here to Ac-cent-chu-ate the Positive.

theduckthief said...

I loved their whole 'I'm Maurice Chevalier' skit but I think I liked their 'Sweet Adeline' barrel quartet better.

Mythical Monkey said...

The "Sweet Adeline" bit in the barrel to open the movie is a great bit, duckthief -- and may contain the only funny line spoken by a non-Marx Brother in the entire canon:

Gibson, First Mate: Sir, I have to report there are four stowaways in the forward hatch.

Captain Corcoran: Stowaways? How do you know there are four of them?

Gibson, First Mate: Why, they were singing "Sweet Adeline".