31 January 2012 | tavm
Bing Crosby and Jane Wyman show sparks in Frank Capra's Here Comes the Groom
For the last several days, I had been watching a series of films made in the '40s that coincidentally had a player from my favorite movie It's a Wonderful Life in it. Well, now I'm commenting on one from that picture's director, Frank Capra, which happened to have several players from his movie. Among them were H.B. Warner, J. Farrell MacDonald, Charles Lane, and Charles Halton. IMDb also lists Ellen Corby, Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer, and Jimmy Hawkins but I didn't recognize them. The site also mentioned frequent Laurel & Hardy player James Finlayson in here but, once again, I didn't find him. Anyway, this was an uneven romantic musical comedy starring Bing Crosby and Jane Wyman that didn't become funny to me until Bing's character starting living in Jane's potential future husband's mansion. That possible husband was played by Franchot Tone whose straight presence brings a steady tone that makes some of the more silly or over-the-top moments more tolerable. Alexis Smith plays a cousin, fourth removed, of Tone's whose transformation to something closer to Ms. Wyman's actual demeanor is one of the more genuinely charming moments. I also liked a sequence in which Ms. Wyman appears in hologram form when Bing plays a record from her in which she basically declares her through with him especially the way the scene ended. A couple of people I didn't find funny were Jane's parents especially the drunk father. As for the songs, Hoagy Carmichael and Johnny Mercer's "In the Cool, Cool, Cool, of the Evening" with Crosby and Wyman is a great number that seems played with no cuts whatever and possibly in one take. I also loved that one-of several they wrote here-Ray Evans and Jay Livingston song "Misto Christofo Columbo" that features Bing with Dorothy Lamour, Phil Harris, Cass Daley, Frank Fontaine (in his Crazy Gugenheim character), and the one and only Satchmo-Louis Armstrong. What a gas that was! There's also a nice operatic number from a young girl named Anna Maria Alberghetti in the beginning. By the way, I first saw her several months ago when I watched her grown-up in Ten Thousand Bedrooms, Dean Martin's first solo picture. In summation, Frank Capra's Here Comes the Groom is no great shakes but it's still quite enjoyable fluff overall.