The Best of the Danny Kaye Show (2 DVD)
White Christmas: The Diamond Anniversary Edition (Blu-Ray/DVD/CD combo)
Rosemary Clooney – White Christmas (Expanded Edition) (CD)
(Real Gone Music)
Bing Crosby – The Television Specials: Volume 1 (2 DVD)
(Bing Crosby Archive / UMe) reissue
Bing Crosby Rediscovered: The American Masters Soundtrack (CD)
(Bing Crosby Archive / UMe)
American Masters: Bing Crosby Rediscovered (DVD)
Christmas with Danny Kaye
Irving Berlin’s White Christmas Diamond Anniversary Edition from Paramount celebrates the 60thanniversary of the holiday classic starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen. The Blu-Ray Combo Pack arrives on October 14thand includes new special features, such as five classic Christmas television show appearances by Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye, including a virtual duet between Bing Crosby and Michael Bublé. There’s also an exclusive twelve-song Christmas CD featuring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye and Rosemary Clooney, with guest appearances by Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee and Judy Garland. The CD includes eight never- before-released tracks. The release also celebrates the 60thanniversary of Danny Kaye’s appointment as UNICEF’s first Goodwill Ambassador, and The Danny Kaye and Sylvia Fine Kaye Foundation and Paramount Pictures are proud to make a combined $100,000 donation to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF to support UNICEF’s lifesaving work for children around the world. Danny Kaye received an honorary Academy Award for Assignment Children. The 1954 short film documented his world travels for UNICEF. Assignment Children – with a new introduction by Michael Bublé – is included among the bonus features of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas Diamond Anniversary Edition.
On October 7th MVD Entertainment Group will release the two-DVD collection, The Best of the Danny Kaye Show. Danny Kaye was at the height of his popularity when The Danny Kaye Show debuted on CBS in the fall of 1963. He won the Emmy Award for best variety performer in 1964, and the show was honored with three more Emmys, including outstanding
variety series. The Danny Kaye Show was the perfect showcase for its star’s unequaled range of talents. In this collection of six uncut episodes – available for the first time since their original broadcast – Danny sings with Ella Fitzgerald, Nana Mouskouri and Harry Belafonte. He sings and dances with Liza Minnelli and Gene Kelly, and deftly clowns his way through comedy sketches with Art Carney, Rod Serling, Jackie Cooper, and a certain perennially 39-year old legend of comedy, who makes an unannounced cameo appearance. Also featured in this collection are Michelle Lee, Buddy Greco, John Gary, Joe & Eddie, Lovelady Powell and Alan Young. Series regulars include Harvey Korman, Jamie Farr, Joyce Van Patten and orchestra leader Paul Weston. Among the numerous gems found in The Best of the Danny Kaye Show: Danny conducting the Television City Philharmonic, a spoof of The Twilight Zone with Rod Serling, and performances of Danny Kaye classics “Pavlova” – originally seen in the film The Kid From Brooklyn, and “Ballin’ the Jack” from On the Riviera. Danny’s other numbers include, “You Make Me Feel So Young”, “Pennies From Heaven”, and a rollicking duet of “Hava Nagila” with Harry Belafonte. Whether discovering the joy that is Danny Kaye, or revisiting his extraordinary gifts, viewers of all ages will find the irresistible and legendary entertainer at the top of his game on The Best of the Danny Kaye Show.
The 60th anniversary of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas is also being celebrated in honor of Danny’s costars.
Bing Crosby, the most popular and influential multi-media star of the 20thcentury, continues to delight audiences well into the 21stcentury. His music continues to resonate and will soon be featured in two hit television series, Boardwalk Empire on HBO and Lilyhammer on Netflix.
The 2014 holiday season promises to be a bonanza for Crosby fans.
American Masters: Bing Crosby Rediscovered premieres December 2nd nationwide on PBS (check local listings), and a DVD of the film arrives that day from PBS Distribution. The film will also get an encore airing on December 26th on PBS (check local listings). Bing Crosby’s remarkable appeal was in his seemingly effortless ability to pull an audience in with his intimate, laid-back voice. For over three decades – through radio, film, television and records – he reigned supreme. A brilliant entrepreneur, Crosby played an important role in the development of the postwar recording industry. As one of Hollywood’s most popular stars, he won an Academy Award as Best Actor for 1944’s Going My Way and starred in the iconic “Road” films with Bob Hope. Crosby recorded nearly four hundred hit singles, an achievement no one – not Sinatra, Elvis or the Beatles – has come close to matching. Thirty-seven years after his death, he remains the most recorded performer in history. American Masters: Bing Crosby Rediscovered explores the life and legend of this iconic performer, and reveals a man far more complex than his public persona.
HLC Properties, Ltd. the company formed by Crosby’s estate, granted American Masters unprecedented access to the entertainer’s personal and professional archives, including never- before-seen home movies, Dictabelt recordings, photos and more. The film – directed by Emmy- winner Robert Trachtenberg (American Masters – Mel Brooks: Make a Noise) and narrated by Stanley Tucci – features new interviews with all surviving members of Bing Crosby’s immediate family – wife Kathryn, daughter Mary, and sons Harry and Nathaniel – as well as singers Tony Bennett and Michael Feinstein, record producer Ken Barnes, biographer Gary Giddins and writers Buz Kohan and Larry Grossman.
“Much like his talent, Bing Crosby is a natural for the series. With more No. 1 recordings than anyone, it is easy to overlook all of his other achievements. Thankfully, this film delves deeply into all of his remarkable work, and will surprise many viewers with a unique perspective on his private life,” says Michael Kantor, executive producer of American Masters.
American Masters: Bing Crosby Rediscovered – The Soundtrack includes several previously unissued recordings of songs heard in the film, and is one of four new CD releases coming on November 25th from the Bing Crosby Archive and Universal Music Enterprises. Also coming, Bing Sings the Irving Berlin Songbook, a brand new compilation featuring familiar classics from Bing’s Decca catalog alongside rare previously unissued recordings. The album features the first ever CD release of the 2012 Michael Bublé – Bing Crosby duet of “White Christmas.” Expanded reissues of two classic Decca Crosby albums, Songs I Wish I Had Sung the First Time Around (Deluxe Edition) and Some Fine Old Chestnuts (60th Anniversary Deluxe Edition) also feature previously unissued recordings, as well as newly remastered versions of the albums taken directly from the original master tapes, which had been stored in the Crosby archive for decades.
Another White Christmas costar, Rosemary Clooney, also happened to be one of Bing Crosby’s closest friends. Crosby’s production company created and produced Rosemary’s CBS radio programs in the mid-1950s. On Clooney’s commercial recordings of the period, her talent was often awash in overly produced (and in the early days, gimmicky) middle-of-the-road material. But her personal taste tended more toward authentic compositions by America’s great songsmiths, and in a stripped-down setting, she could positively glow. Rosemary’s record producers might have reined her in with iron fists, but Bing Crosby let her record what she wanted to record for her radio shows. And those recordings appear – most for the first time since they were broadcast – on the new Mosaic Records five-CD, 104 track boxed set, The Rosemary Clooney CBS Radio Recordings 1955-61. With Bing’s frequent musical collaborators Buddy Cole and His Trio backing her, Clooney’s voice shines on compositions by Cole Porter, Billy Strayhorn, Johnny Mercer, Rodgers and Hart, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Lerner and Loewe, and George and Ira Gershwin. Plus music made famous by Joe Bushkin, Illinois Jacquet, Jimmy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington and more. The radio shows were a blank canvas for great songs and singing. The original session tapes from the Bing Crosby Archive have been restored and remastered to Mosaic’s exacting standards. The Rosemary Clooney CBS Radio Recordings 1955-61 is the perfect companion to Mosaic’s 2009 seven-CD release, The Bing Crosby CBS Radio Recordings 1954-61. Many of the tracks on these collections come from the same recording sessions. The duets from these sessions are available on the two-CD set, Bing & Rosie: The Crosby-Clooney Radio Duets from the Bing Crosby Archive / Universal Music Enterprises.
Because Rosemary Clooney was under contract to Columbia Records when Irving Berlin’s White Christmas was filmed, she did not appear on the Decca Records soundtrack album that featured Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye, who both recorded for Decca. Instead, Columbia recorded an entirely different album of songs from the film with only Clooney. That eight song, 10” LP will be released as a fifteen song CD from Real Gone Music on November 4th. Rosemary Clooney: In Songs from the Paramount Pictures Production of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas (Expanded Edition) features the original album and seven bonus tracks from the Bing Crosby Archive – including a previously unissued Crosby – Clooney duet on “Silver Bells.”
Danny Kaye appears with children in Atlanta, Ga., during his UNICEF Trick-or-Treat Tour in 1966. During the mid-1960s, Kaye – an amateur pilot – flew himself to cities across the U.S. to collect donations from children acquired during UNICEF’s Halloween drive. Music Division, Library of Congress
All performers hope to make a distinctive mark in their own time. The very best leave a legacy that endures long after they’re gone. A multi-talented entertainer who died 27 years ago has left us that, and more. Here’s Michelle Miller.
[A previous version of this story was published online on June 19, 2013.]
Back in Hollywood’s Golden Age, Danny Kaye was golden, and then some.
He was an actor, singer, dancer, comedian . . . and, perhaps most important, a friend of children around the world.
But to actor Michael Douglas, Danny Kaye was the guy next door. “I knew Danny Kaye when I was a kid,” he said. “I went to his house many times. He was a great cook, a magical guy. Had this wonderful curiosity and enjoyment of life. You saw it on screen, you saw it when he lived.”
And to Dena Kaye, he was Dad. “If there was a story of unconditional love and wanting what was best for me, he was it,” she said.
“I really had a normal childhood,” Dena said. “I mean, yes, Cary Grant came to the house, and yes, I asked Frank Sinatra to come to my graduation party and he showed up and I was thrilled, but I mean, we lived in the same house from 1947 until I sold it in 1991. I’d never been to an Academy Awards. I went to normal schools.”
The only child of Danny Kaye and musician Sylvia Fine, she is now keeping her parents’ memory alive.
Not long ago, she helped mount a special exhibit honoring her parents at the Library of Congress in Washington. It’s now in Los Angeles.
“My mother and father were such an amazing team,” Dena said. “It was such teamwork and synergy — the egg yolk and the egg white.”
David Daniel Kaminsky grew up in Brooklyn, the son of Ukrainian Jewish immigrants. He was a high school dropout who spent summers performing in the Catskills.
Kaminsky became “Kaye” — and a legend was born.
“He was so much more than a performer,” said Dena Kaye. “He was UNICEF’s first Goodwill Ambassador in 1954. He was elegant. He was funny. There’s no one who combines, to my mind anyway — and remember I am the daughter — all of his talents.”
At an audition in 1940, Kaye met his future wife. Not long afterwards, he got his big break — a role in the Broadway play, “Lady in the Dark,” performing what became one of his signature “patter” songs, “Tchaikovsky.”
“May I fondly introduce,
For your mental delectation,
The names that always give me a concussion,
The names of those composers known as Russian. There’s Malichevsky, Rubinstein, Arensky, and Tchaikowsky,
Sapelnikoff, Dimitrieff, Tscherepnin, Kryjanowsky,
Godowsky, Arteiboucheff, Moniuszko, Akimenko,
Solovieff, Prokofieff, Tiomkin, Korestchenko. …
Stravinsky and Gretchnaninoff,
Rumshinsky and Rachmaninoff,
I really have to stop, the subject
has been dwelt upon enough!”
“He did it very, very, very, very fast, and it stopped the show,” said Dena.
Soon, Hollywood took notice. Kaye starred in more than two dozen movies — classics like “White Christmas,” and in “Hans Christian Andersen,” one of his most beloved roles, Kaye portrayed the prolific Danish storyteller.
And then there’s this famous scene from “The Court Jester”: “The pellet with the poison’s in the vessel with the pestle; the chalice from the palace has the brew that is true!”
His wife Sylvia wrote many of his songs.
“She used to say, ‘I had radar for Danny and I could tell what he was going to be able to do before he knew it,'” said Dena.
“Most couples can’t work together,” said Miller. “How did they make it work?”
“With difficulty,” she replied.
Shortly after Dena was born, there were rumors of Kaye’s affairs with other women . . . and other men, the most infamous (allegedly), Sir Laurence Olivier.
“What do you say to that?” asked Miller.
“Nothing. I say, people could write whatever they would like,” Dena said. “I am just not in the business of confirming or denying anything. It’s just a waste of my time.”
But to hear Dena tell it, Danny Kaye the parent was perhaps his greatest role. … Read the full article at CBSNews.com
Danny Kaye fans have had plenty to rejoice about this year. There haven’t been this many opportunities to enjoy the performer’s work since before he passed away in 1987.
Here were my Top 10 Danny Kaye highlights of 2013:
(1) DVD Bonanza.
Aside from dozens of low-budget releases of the public domain The Inspector General, Kaye’s movies have never been that accessible on home video. That all changed over the last few months, with the release on DVD of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, the four-pack Danny Kaye: Goldwyn Years, a combo Court Jester/Five Pennies disc, and pristine Blu-Rays of Knock on Wood, On the Double, and On the Riviera.
That leaves just three Kaye features unavailable—the sadly neglected Me and the Colonel and the not-so-sadly-neglected Man from the Diners Club and Madwoman of Chaillot.
(2) Library of Congress Website.
Accessed at www.loc.gov/kayefine, the new Danny Kaye/Sylvia Fine collection website is a godsend for all Kaye fans and researchers. You’ll find recordings of songs, radio shows, short films, rare family photographs, Sylvia’s hand-drawn orchestral scores and typed lyric sheets, scripts, personal letters, and more—without having to make the trip to Washington, D.C.
(3) Dena Kaye’s Tireless Pounding of the Pavement.
Danny and Sylvia’s daughter Dena deserves much of the credit for not only funding the centennial celebration that inspired most of these products and tributes, but also for constantly making herself available for interviews and events. Her energy and her presence are what kept this event—and her dad—in the public eye for so long.
(4) TCM Moviethon.
Turner Classic Movies celebrated Kaye’s birthday with a day-long tribute that did as much as anything to shine a light on his finest work.
(5) The Danny Kaye Show on Sirius Radio.
The private-access radio network has been regularly airing dozens of episodes of Kaye’s old radio series. Many of the programs haven’t been heard since they first aired in the 1940s.
(6) The Traveling Library of Congress Display.
That a sampling of artifacts from the LoC collection was on display in their reading room’s foyer was neat, for the hundreds of visitors who came across it. Even better was when the collection was moved to Los Angeles, where it could be enjoyed by the thousands.
(7) Instant Downloads.
Kaye has definitely arrived in the here and right now. This year, several of his movies became available as instant downloads on iTunes.
(8) The New Secret Life of Walter Mitty.
In making his new film, Ben Stiller intentionally tried to steer clear of Danny’s version, but—considering the movie’s high profile—its mere existence should send thousands of fans clamoring to check out the original.
(9) Danny Kaye Film Festival.
Attendance may have been small, but the love for Danny in that conference center was palpable. And they booked a great speaker with a terrific slide show!
(10) The Clicks Keep Coming.
I’ve been a Danny Kaye fan since I stumbled across The Court Jester on a UHF channel one afternoon when I was very young back in the 1970’s. His films will never be confused with high art, but the nonsense song, wacky slapstick, and his likable personality make them a wonderful way to pass the afternoon. While his biggest films have been available on DVD (and some have been released on Blu-ray) his earliest films haven’t been available… until now. Warner Archives have released a great collection of Kaye’s earliest feature films in the four-disc set, Danny Kaye: The Golden Years. Comprising four of his first five films (the one omitted is the popular Secret Life of Walter Mitty, the remake of which is going to be released on Christmas Day, 2013) and these show what a talent he was from the beginning. Without a dud in the bunch, fans of the comic will want to make sure they snag a copy.
Up in Arms (1944): After appearing in a few low-budget two-reelers in the late 1930’s, Danny Kaye appeared on Broadway and was greeted by so much acclaim that Samuel Goldwyn gave him the staring role in the Technicolor production of Up in Arms, a remake of 1930’s Whoopee! (originally string Eddie Cantor).
Danny Weems (Danny Kaye) is an extreme hypochondriac who works as an elevator operator in a building that houses several doctors’ offices (that way he can describe his symptoms to the physicians as they’re going to and from work). He’s sure he won’t be called up for military service, after all he’s terribly sick, but the draft board doesn’t see it that way. He’s gets his notice and heads off to war along with his best friend Joe (Dana Andrews).
There is a complication in Danny’s life, aside from his imagined illnesses: He’s in love with a nurse from his building, Mary (Constance Dowling), who only has eyes for Joe. Meanwhile another nurse, poor Virginia (Dinah Shore) does love Danny, but he’s too thick-headed to see it. When the go off to was the women sign on too and all four end up on the same troop transport ship where Danny tries to confess his love to Mary while Virginia tries to corner Danny and they all try to avoid getting caught.
Kaye really hit the ground running with his first feature. The beginning where everyone is in New York is a little slow in places, but once everyone joins the Army it’s a very entertaining flick. Danny Kaye uses a lot of the devices that he’d become famous for in this film: there’s a song filled with nonsense lyrics (which is hilarious), he impersonates an immigrant in order to get out of a jam, and there’s a lot of goofy banter. The movie was quite a success when it was released and made Danny Kaye a star over night.
The Wonder Man (1945): For the follow-up film, Kaye is partnered with Virginia Mayo for the first time. She appears opposite him in the other movies in this set too.
Buzzy Bellew (Danny Kaye) is a dynamic, outgoing star of the stage who is much more concerned with getting a laugh than being on time. He’s a stand-up guy though, so when he sees a murder, he agrees to testify against the mobster who committed the crime, “Ten Grand” Jackson.
Ten Grand has other plans however. One evening before Buzzy is about to go on, a delivery man enters Bellew’s dressing room with some flowers and shoots him. Buzzy is then passed out a window to a waiting van and his body is dumped into the river. He’s dead and gone.
Well, dead… but not quite gone. It turns out that Buzzy has a “super-identical” brother. Though long estranged, Buzzy is able to contact his sibling Edwin and draw him to the place where his body was dumped. There Edwin discovers that not only can he see and hear Buzzy (and he’s the only one who can), but his brother can also take over his body for a short amount of time. Buzzy needs Edwin to testify in his place and put Ten Grand behind bars, but the gangster has no problem with killing the witness a second time.
This was my favorite film in the set… it’s hysterical. Kaye does a great job playing ‘a man inhabited by the spirit of another’ and there’s more than a little bit of squirming that the audience will do when Edwin gets on stage and Buzzy fails to take him over. Add to that some really awkward situations where Buzzy’s girl and you’ve got a classic film. It deserves to be better known.
The Kid From Brooklyn (1946): This film is a remake of a Harold Lloyd film, The Milky Way (1936). While I love the original, the Danny Kaye version is very good too. Kaye plays a quite, unassuming milkman, Burleigh Sullivan, who happens to be good at ducking punches. When he gets into a scuffle with a drunken middleweight champ, Speed McFarlane, the boxer ends up knocked out and the press have a field day. When Burleigh goes to apologize and the champ ends up on the floor again, this time when the press can get a photo, the milkman ends up being the talk of the town, and Speed’s manager takes on Sullivan and turns him into a fighter… or does he.
This is another nice film that has a lot of wholesome laughs. Virginia Mayo plays Kaye’s love interest again, this time as an out of work singer that Sullivan falls for. The two have a good amount of chemistry on screen and she’s quite good opposite Kaye. Some of the boxing scenes are great, but the best part of this movie is the nonsense song that the star sings. It’s wonderfully inane.
A Song is Born (1948): After finishing The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (not included in this set), Danny Kaye started in this picture, a remake of Balls of Fire (1941) that originally stared Gary Cooper. In the original, Cooper was part of a group of professors who were writing a definitive dictionary and needed to learn the newest slang terms. For this picture they changed it just slightly: Danny Kaye plays a scholar, Professor Hobart Frisbee, who is working on a music encyclopedia. When he and his partners (one of whom is played by Benny Goodman) hear that there are new types of music called “Jazz” they decide to educate themselves on the style.
At a jazz club they encounter a singer named Honey Swanson (Virginia Mayo), who needs to make herself scarce so the police won’t make her testify against her mobster boyfriend. She ingratiates herself with the music professors and pretends to fall in love with Frisbee so that she can stay with them and eventually con them into transporting both her and her thug boyfriend across the state line.
Danny Kaye was going through a rough time while this film was being made. Though he was at the top of his career after his smash hit Walter Mitty, he was having personal problems. He was separating from his wife, who was also his song writer, and it was troubling him greatly. Though he’s still very good in this movie, he’s not quite as energetic and doesn’t have that spark of fun that fills the other movies in this set.
Aside from that, the film works wonderfully. Jazz fans will want to check this out just for the music and great musicians who fill the film. In addition to Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, Louis Armstrong, Charlie Barnet, and Mel Powell all appear. The music is naturally great and there are plenty of laughs.
These four films arrive on four pressed DVDs (presumably only the first printing will be pressed and subsequent runs will be DVD-Rs) housed in a single-width quadcase.
The mono audio is pretty decent across the four titles. There isn’t any hiss or other background noise that’s noticeable at normal viewing levels and the songs come across loud and clear. Of course the films are hampered by the technology of the time, but these films still sound pretty good.
The unrestored image looks very good on these movies. Filmed in beautiful Technicolor, the 1.33: 1 aspect ratio has been preserved for all of the films and the colors are bold and vivid. The level of detail is very nice and thought there are a couple of rare specks on the prints, damage is very minimal. Fans will be very pleased.
The set includes trailers for the four films, but no other bonus items.
What a wonderful set. If you only know Danny Kaye through his bigger films, do yourself a favor and check these out. There’s not a dud in the bunch and they’re all funny, enjoyable and entertaining. Highly Recommended.
This review of Warner Archive’s recent DVD release of “Danny Kaye Double Feature” rounds out the series of posts, that began with discussing the four-disc “Danny Kaye: The Goldwyn Years” release, on titles associated with “The Danny Kaye Centennial.” This celebration marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of a genuine screen legend.
Seeing Kaye express every emotion from sheer panic to heartfelt passion, skillfully undergo rapid costume and accompanying character changes, and perform song-and-dance numbers that involve lightning-fast transformations from operatic baritones to rapid-fire falsetto lyrics in every movie makes every Kaye film in any format a bargain.
Including Kaye’s arguably best-known film 1955’s “The Court Jester” makes “Double” a great release on which to end this series on his uber-awesome movies. The other film is the much different, but equally good, biopic “The Five Pennies” from 1959.
“Jester” is set in medieval times and has Kaye playing circus performer Hubert Hawkins, who has joined the band of Robin Hoodesque the Black Fox. These merry men and women are dedicated to ousting the current king of England, who has wrongfully seized control by having every known rightful heir to the throne killed.
In typical Kaye fashion, Hawkins longs for bigger and better things than being a low-level lackey; the element of a proverbially fateful encounter that gives Hawkins a chance to be a hero is an equally prevalent theme in these offerings.
In this case, Hawkins seizing an opportunity to impersonate the titular comedian to gain access to the castle as part of a larger scheme to overthrow the king sets the primary action in motion. The interval between Hawkins arriving at the castle and the inevitable happy ending has enough sword fights, hilarious wordplay, murders, and elaborate song-and-dance numbers to hold the attention of even the worst sufferer of ADHD.
As Unreal TV’s review of the Olive Films release of the Kaye film “Knock on Wood” mentions, this fractured fairy tale that precedes the equally hilarious “The Princess Bride” by roughly 30 years includes the “chalice with the palace” scene. Very few people could doubt that this is the most famous scene from any Kaye film; even fewer could deny that it is one of the funniest scenes from any film ever made.
The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, is of that classic scene.
Danny Kaye is a passive, daydreaming proofreader who whiles away his time imagining himself a swashbuckling sea captain, heroic surgeon or a riverboat gambler with ice in his veins. Walter creatively reuses the mundane implements of his dull life: the sock stretchers and floor wax his mother requests from the store serve as impromptu surgical implements for one heroic interlude.
Fantasy unexpectedly bleeds into reality when the gorgeous blonde cast in all his reveries (Virginia Mayo) appears on his morning commuter train, fleeing a passel of mystery men. So steely in all his daydreams, Walter responds to danger in real life with a joggling knee, trembling teacup and a wavering voice. He yelps when the toast pops out of the toaster.