Thanks For The Memory

The research into Ralph Rainger that has kept me more or less hors de combat from Rifftides lately included the not entirely disagreeable task of watching The Big Broadcast of 1938. Film musicals still recycled vaudeville in those days, so what we get is a series of blackouts draped over a flimsy structure called a plot. It’s an excuse to see, among other things, a few vintage W.C. Fields bits and hear Martha Raye, a drastically underrated singer. Part of the plot involves Bob Hope’s character dodging three ex-wives while he pursues Dorothy Lamour.

Hope and one of the exes, played by Shirley Ross, have a drink in the lounge of a transatlantic liner. Beautifully underplayed (in contrast to the rest of the movie), the scene introduced one of Rainger’s best songs and – according to Hollywood lore – reduced the crew to tears while it was being filmed. Here’s why.

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  1. says

    The whole film crew got teary?!? I thought I was the only one… It’s so spontaneous! Hope and Ross seem to be singing live-to-a-band-track, rather than the standard pre-record.
    You’re right about it being a great song, and one that’s rarely done in jazz, but that old folky Dave Van Ronk did a great version with Sarah Partridge back in early 2001. It’s Keith Ingham, piano and arranger, with Scott Robinson adding fine tenor work.
    (Justin Time JUST 166-2 >>Sweet And Lowdown

  2. Zoot says

    I’d forgotten how beautifully they did that number. I must say it got to me. Thanks for that memory.
    BTW, Serge, Stan, O’Day and most recently Stacey Kent at the Pizza Express (streaming only perhaps) have done ‘Thanks’, but IMO because of the terrific lyrics, its the vocal versions that stick with me.