Monday, June 23, 2014

Bob Sings to the Kids

I'm afraid we are at week two of disappointing movies.  Meet Miss Bobby Socks (1944) stars Bob Crosby as Don Collins, a soldier just recently released from service (we are not told why. Given that the war is still raging, he must have been hurt in some way that prevented his return to the front.  He shows no evidence of wounds, however, nor does he inform us of any injuries).  While overseas, he's been receiving letters from a young woman, and he goes to visit her.  He believes his pen pal is Helen Tyler (Lynn Merrick), but is stunned to discover that it is, in fact, Lynn's 15 year-old sister Susie (Louise Erickson) who is the correspondent.  Susie, of course, immediately falls in crush with Don; Don is more interested in Helen.  Helen is not impressed with Don, who begins his conversation by insulting teachers.  Of course, Helen is a teacher.

The film is primarily an excuse to highlight some musical numbers; the plot merely a device to keep us engaged between numbers.  The problem is, the acting isn't great, and the musical numbers are odd.  Let's start with Bob Crosby.  He's no actor, and his claim to fame is that he is Bing's little brother.  Bob spent his career as a band leader - though he was chosen by the band (an offshoot of the Ben Pollack Orchestra) mainly because of the Crosby name.  His singing style is imitative of Bing, but without the elan that made the elder Mr. Crosby a household name. 

The film ends with two numbers that feel inserted, and are very bizarre. The first is by Louis Jordan and His Tympany Five.  Jordan is an influential musician - whose musical stylings inspired James Brown, Chuck Berry and Little Richard.  Jordan, who often called "The Grandfather of Rock and Roll", has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Below is a clip from this film; we found the number rather off-putting, but perhaps our readers have a different opinion?

Also included was an Asian trio (the group also performed as a quartet) called the Kim Loo Sisters.  Three of the girls toured with USO in the European Theatre of Operations during WWII, so they would have been familiar to the GIs - the probable target audience for Meet Miss Bobby Socks.  As with the Louis Jordan number, it's obvious that the number was filmed outside of this film, and inserted into the action.

The sad thing is that the one good actor in this film - Lynn Merrick - is given very little screen time.  We spend much more time with Susie, who looks much more than 15, and is obnoxious.  Actress Louise Erickson made only three films (and one short). Then retired to be the wife of Ben Gazzara.  It would be nice if we could say this was a lose to film history. But if this film is any example, it wasn't.

There are several character people, including John Hamilton (R. N. Swanson), who are given no screen credit at all (despite having several scenes in the film.  Too bad, as he is a much better actor than the lead.

We close with the musical number featuring Louis Jordan and His Tympany Five:

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