Friday, December 21, 2007

Bing Crosby/ Richard Hamilton

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas, 1967

Last night I watched White Christmas. Ever since I studied with Luigi, a master of jazz dance in New York City who also danced in this movie, I see the film with a special interest. I always look for my dance mentor.

But it’s been ten years since I danced with Luigi everyday. After all that viewing, the film took on various other meanings and I started looking at Holiday Inn as well. What really hit me last night was Bing.

I saw the moment of the famous Richard Hamilton piece (of which there are several versions). Bing has his hat and jacket on, he’s about ready to leave. There are those downcast eyes and the subtle smile. And I saw in that moment the Hamiltons I stared at repeatedly during my years in London in the 70s. The only thing I could compare the experience to would be seeing a still of Marilyn or Jackie in its original context after seeing a lot of Warhol.

“You finally got Bing,” said my film freak friend. Actually I have read that Bing was the first hip white person in America and I’m not even sure what all that means. I know he was the number one superstar of the late 30s and early 40s.


Jim said...

Crosby was an underrated actor. He was pitch-perfect as the drunk, passive-aggressive, fading star in "The Country Girl" with Grace Kelly and William Holden. For Christmas cheer, "Holiday Inn" is fun, as long as you can get around the scene where he sings in blackface.

Anonymous said...

He is sort of forgotten now. Weird how someone who was number one would now be forgotten. I have a Life magazine which has a graph of who were the top actors during Life's initial ascent. Bing is in the top five for at least five years in a row, if not number one. He is smooth as silk. Yes his son told another story...

Jim said...

I think his character in "The Country Girl" had more in common with his son's portrait.

Bing's influence on the popular male vocal style in the 20th century is profound, perhaps equal to that of his successor Sinatra. Before the Spokane crooner broke onto the scene, men sang in a mannered style that seems ridiculously old-fashioned today. Bing still sounds contemporary by comparison. He was really the first singer whose style was created in the recording studio rather than the stage.

Anonymous said...

I was just reading about the Country Girl. I guess I always had a problem with Grace getting the Oscar over Judy, but the reviews say she was incredible. Hmm. His performance sounds more interesting, but that might have everything to do with the role and the script.

Having listened to some tunes from the 30s, I am inclined to agree with you about Bing. And he definitely still holds up.