[Dixielandjazz] DVD: 'Bing Crosby: The Television Specials, Vol. 1

Robert Ringwald rsr at ringwald.com
Tue May 25 07:16:42 PDT 2010

DVD: 'Bing Crosby: The Television Specials, Vol. 1' (Various dates, not rated, Shout
Factory, $29.98)
by Mick LaSalle
San Francisco Chronicle, May 23, 2010
This two-disc set brings together four full-length TV specials starring Bing Crosby,
from 1954, 1959, 1962 and 1970. Special features include rare footage of Crosby being
interviewed for a variety of TV programs -- local Hawaiian TV and an Australian talk
show, to name two. Of the specials, the one of most interest is from 1959, with guest
stars Peggy Lee, Louis Armstrong and Frank Sinatra. Bing's guests wipe the floor
with him, as he floats through the show, at least 10 years past his musical relevancy.
Actually, Armstrong (except when he blows his horn) is in the same boat, already
heading toward his "Hello Dolly" phase, as he sings "Mack the Knife." But Sinatra
and Lee are fantastic and very much in their prime. There are corny moments -- the
lyrics in the songs written especially for the show are terrible (as only Sammy Cahn
could write them), but if you really want to see corny, watch the 1954 special, with
its canned laugh track, or the 1962 show, with its amazingly tired banter between
Crosby and Bob Hope, or the 1970 show, with an unfunny Dean Martin. Still, as a cultural
curiosity, the set has its rewards. The beatnik spoof of 1959 and the psychedelic
color scheme of the 1970 show demonstrate the ways in which the older generation
was assimilating youth culture. The disappointment of the set, however, is how un-jazzy
the older Crosby is, in contrast to his younger self. He looks as if he can't wait
to get back to the golf course.

--Bob Ringwald
Amateur (ham) Radio call sign K6YBV
Fulton Street Jazz Band

"Critics can't even make music by rubbing their back legs together."
--Mel Brooks

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