Monday, April 28, 2008

Jimmy Stewart Sings!

TCM is playing the 1936 musical Born to Dance tonight at 8:00 PM ET. Perhaps the most interesting thing about it is that we get to see its star, James Stewart sing. Stewart wasn't exactly a musical star, but as he himself pointed out in That's Entertainment!, this was the 1930s, and musicals were extremely popular. So, the studios put everybody and their brother in musicals. (By the same token, later tonight TCM will show the Three Stooges hamming it up with Joan Crawford in Dancing Lady. Who would ever have thought Larry, Curly, and Moe would do a musical? With Franchot Tone, no less?)

However, it's also not the only time Stewart sang; he got to belt out a few numbers in some of his other famous movies as important plot points. First up is 1940's The Philadelphia Story, in which Stewart holds a tipsy Katharine Hepburn in his arms, serenading her with "Over the Rainbow".

Then, there's the famous It's a Wonderful Life, in which Stewart serenades Donna Reed with "Buffalo Gals". It's too bad he didn't want to sing "Hark the Herald Angels Sing", however. It might have saved everybody but Henry Travers a whole lot of grief.

On the other hand, I suppose it's a good thing he didn't do a duet of "Que Sera, Sera", with Doris Day in The Man Who Knew Too Much. Their screen son, Christopher Olsen, does, however. (And at least we didn't have to hear Peter Lorre sing "Que Sera, Sera" in the original version of The Man Who Knew Too Much.)

Finally, in the 1957 western Night Passage, Stewart plays a retired sheriff protecting a railroad's payroll who not only sings a song, but gets to play the harmonica as well.

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