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"Easy to Love"

A Centennial Birthday Tribute to Jimmy Stewart

2008 marks the centennial of the birth of the popular actor, James Maitland Stewart,
born in Indiana, Pennsylvania on 20 May 1908.

Many of his outstanding dramatic roles were in films with very good scores. They include:

MR. SMITH GOES TO WASINGTON, IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, NIGHT PASSAGE
(music by Dimitri Tiomkin)

THE PHILADELPHIA STORY, REAR WINDOW, THE SPIRIT OF ST. LOUIS
(music by Franz Waxman)

THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH and VERTIGO
(music by Bernard Herrmann)

ANATOMY OF A MURDER
(music by Duke Ellington)

THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE
(music by Cyril Mockridge)

HOW THE WEST WAS WON
(music by Alfred Newman and Ken Darby)

 

Here is section devoted to one of Jimmy Stewart lesser known and less appreciated abilities...

Jimmy Stewart Sings!

Three films which feature his singing

By Roger Hall

This review is reprinted from 2003, with slight revisions...

BORN TO DANCE (1936) - Songs by Cole Porter

18 Tracks (Total Time = 68:28)

Music arranged and orchestrated by Edward Powell. Produced for release by George Feltenstein. Project Supervisor: Patrick Milligan.  Mastering & Engineering: Doug Scwartz, Mulholland Music. Archival Transfer of 35mm Optical masters: Chace Productions.  Art Direction: Bryan Lasky & Lori Carfora. Design: Rachel Gutek.
Liner notes: George Feltenstein.  

Rhino Handmade RHM2 7778

Limited Edition of 2500 copies

Rating:  ***1/2

Continuing their excellent series of Hollywood musicals from the Golden Age, especially at M-G-M, this latest Rhino Handmade release of BORN TO DANCE is significant for several reasons.  It was Cole Porter's first Hollywood musical.  It also contains two of his best known standards:  "Easy to Love" and "I've Got You Under My Skin."  

Another plus is using the original 35mm optical recordings, and on three tracks several micophones were employed, thus providing stereophonic sound in the 1930s. This musical features the dance sensation Eleanor Powell, along with Virginia Bruce and James Stewart - who sings - and not badly either.

Other than the two Porter song stanards, which are heard in various versions on half of the tracks, there are several other enjoyable songs.  One is "Hey, Babe, Hey!" (6:30). This is a rollicking fun song introduced by James Stewart and also featuring Sid Silvers, Buddy Ebsen, Frances Langford, Marjorie Lane (for Eleanor Powell)
and Una Merkel.

 

The following track has "Entrance of Lucy James" (2:13), with a Gilbert & Sullivan flavor with Guy Kibbee, Virginia Bruce and M-G-M Chorus.  The next song, "Love Me, Love My Pekinese" (1:17) is just plain silly.

 One of the soundtrack highlights is James Stewart singing "Easy to Love" (track 10, 8:12).  While his voice is not very strong, he sings the song with much conviction.  The lovely arrangement of this song by Edward Powell and Leo Arnaud is a delight and it's in STEREO too!  

The other two tracks in stereo are: "Rap Tap On Wood" (extended version, track 4, 4:28) and "Swingin' the Jinx Away" (track 14, 13:20).  

If you're used to the swingin' version of "I've Got You Under My Skin" by Frank Sinatra in the 1950's (superbly arranged by Nelson Riddle), then the version sung by Virginia Bruce (track 12, 2:41) might seem a bit stiff.  But the greatness of this Cole Porter song classic still shines through.

 The final three tracks have two different unused versions of "I've Got You Under My Skin," and a censored version of "Easy to Love"by James Stewart and Marjorie Lane.

The notes by George Feltenstein are a bit on the skimpy side but do provide an ample summary of the film and cast, especially Eleanor Powell.  The text is nicely designed in the booklet, with many black & white film stills and
a very colorful CD cover.

Even though half of the tracks are devoted to versions of "Easy to Love" or "I've Got You Under My Skin," there is still much to enjoy on this Rhino Handmade release.

 As usual, complete recording information is given for each track.

Recommended especially to fans of vintage M-G-M musicals.

--Roger Hall, 8 May 2003  

IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946)

The film that has become one of the best loved classics from the past is Frank Capra's IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed. The soundtrack for this film by Dimitri Tiomkin has continued to grow in popularity along with the film. One of the highlights is not part of Tiomkin's score -- the song "Buffalo Gals" sung as a duet by Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed.

There are two soundtrack recordings available:

The first one has a 30 minute suite from IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE including music cut from the film. Also featured are suites from two other classic 1940s film scores: Addinsell's A CHRISTMAS CAROL and Mockridge's MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET. The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra is conducted by David Newman. Click on this link for the CD: Sundance Film Music Series, Vol. I

The other one features "the most memorable moments from the movie --in music and in dialogue." It includes the song "Buffalo Gals" with Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed. Portions of Tiomkin's original score are included on this Nick at Nite CD titled,
IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE - The Record

NIGHT PASSAGE (1957)

Unfortunately, there is no complete soundtrack CD for this enjoyable western film starring Jimmy Stewart, Audie Murphy, Dan Duryea, Dianne Foster, and Elaine Stewart. There are several songs featured on the soundtrack, with music by Dimitri Tiomkin and lyrics by Ned Washington.

The first song, sung by a chorus over the Main Titles, is "Follow The River." A modern studio recording of this song is included in this recommended Dimitri Tiomkin collection in two versions: instrumental only, Disc One, track 1/ orchestra and chorus, Disc Four, track 4:


THE ALAMO:

THE ESSENTIAL DIMITRI TIOMKIN
FILM MUSIC COLLECTION (4 CD Set)

 

The other song in NIGHT PASSAGE is "You can't get far without a railroad," sung in the film by Jimmy Stewart supposedly accompanying himself on the accordion (which he learned to play as a young man), but actually re-recorded by a professional accordion player before the film's release. Still, you can hear Jimmy Stewart singing the humorous song in the film, available on this DVD--

 

NIGHT PASSAGE (DVD)

 

Highly recommended site!

The Jimmy Stewart Museum
Indiana, Pennsylvania

 

"They're Either Too Young or Too Old"
A Centennial Tribute to Bette Davis

 

 

Anniversary Tributes
to American Composers

click here

 

 

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