REVIEW POTPOURRI: Conversations about Bernstein

Peter Catesby Peter Cates

Conversations about Bernstein
William Westbrook Burton, editor
Oxford Univ. Press, 1995, 198 pages.

Conversations is a volume of interviews with various individuals who knew and worked with the composer, conductor, pianist, author, TV personality extraordinaire, Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990), who was arguably the most famous man involved in classical music during the last 60 years. I have read bios by David Ewen, Joan Peyser, and Schuyler Chapin, each of whom has provided their own pieces of the fascinating puzzle comprising this genius.

As composer, he gave us the Broadway masterwork, West Side Story and other works, including at least 4 more musicals, assorted pieces for the theater and cinema and classical writings consisting of three symphonies, etc. As conductor of the New York Philharmonic from 1958-1969 and guesting with other orchestras, he recorded dozens of performances covering the well known repertoire and interesting, generally unknown pieces. As pianist, he did exciting records of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue; the Mozart Piano Concertos 15, 17, 18, and 25; and the Beethoven 1st, while conducting from the keyboard. As author, he wrote the insightful Infinite Variety of Music. And finally as TV personality, he produced the Young People’s Concerts.

The book features talks with composers Lucas Foss and David Diamond, record producer Paul Myers, the late anti-Bernstein New York Times critic Harold C. Schonberg, and performers such as cellist Slava Rostropovich and singers Christa Ludwig and Frederica von Stade, all of whom share valuable insights.

Leonard Bernstein

But the crowning, most searingly eloquent and fascinatingly memorable interview was with singer Carol Lawrence, the Maria of the original Broadway production of West Side Story, which opened in 1957. According to her, Bernstein was very agreeable and supportive to work with but he ceded most responsibility for the staging to the brilliant perfectionist choreographer Jerome Robbins, who was one blankety-blank SOB for all of the cast to work with, especially Lawrence. He singled her out for the bulk of his scathing, judgmental, around- the-clock pitchers of acid. But, as with any production he worked on, he achieved the most phenomenal results, laying the groundwork as much as the composer Leonard Bernstein and lyricist Stephen Sondheim for the musical’s unimpeachably classic status!

One song in the show, the hit I Feel Pretty, was originally marked for destruction by “Jerry” Robbins but was left in and made its own contribution to the show’s success, as conveyed now in Lawrence’s own account:

“But the most wonderful part, told to me afterwards, was that after the show, as Oscar Hammerstein was walking up the aisle, he came over to Jerry and Lenny, who were at the top, watching from the back row and said: ‘Congratulations to both of you. This is an incredible milestone in the theatre.’ And he raved and raved about every aspect of the show. And then, turning to Jerry, he said: ‘But my favorite moment in the entire show came with the spontaneity of I Feel Pretty. I don’t know how you did it, but you encapsulated the joy of a young woman in love. And you are to be congratulated.’ And Jerry said, ‘Thank you.’ “

REVIEW POTPOURRI: Mendelssohn and Bruch Violin Concertos

Peter Catesby Peter Cates

Alfredo Campoli, violin, with Eduard Van Beinum conducting the London Philharmonic (Mendelssohn) and Royalton Kisch, the New Symphony (Bruch); London LL 966, mono LP, recorded 1954.

Felix Mendelssohn

I own a number of duplicate recordings in which the Mendelssohn is coupled with either the Bruch or Tchaikovsky VCs; all three are central to the basic repertoire of concertos that listeners new to classical music gravitate to and rightfully so because they are very beautiful.

Alfredo Campoli

But this record is quite special on its own terms. Alfredo Campoli (1906-1991) had a gift for the most elegant phrasing and fussed over every note as if his life depended on it. Here, he is accompanied by two conductors who were noted for their collaborations with soloists both in concert and the recording studio.

Eduard Van Beinum

Eduard Van Beinum (1901-1959) probably never conducted a bad record during his entire tenure with London/Decca and Epic/Phillips , at least among the ones I own. The notorious Holy Terror perfectionist of a conductor, George Szell bought a copy of the Haydn Symphonies 96 and 97 that Beinum recorded and was so impressed he wrote a note to the latter expressing his deepest pleasure, something as rare as hen’s teeth with Szell. I also own it and love it. And in terms of disposition, Beinum got his results by treating his players with warmth and validation.

Max Bruch

Royalton Kisch (1920-1995) was one of the most talented English conductors to emerge after World War II but, after1964, left conducting because of a bad back. When his father, also a Royalton, died in 1967, the writer mistakenly reported him dead and the error was not corrected for years.

For those who would like to hear this record, they can easily access it on YouTube.

REVIEW POTPOURRI: Few listen to old 78 records

Peter Catesby Peter Cates

The number of record collectors who listen to the dusty old 78s are few when one considers the general population but, if gathered in a convention hall from around the world, could fill it. The dealers hawking them on Ebay, popsike and other venues plus the Facebook pages testify to the interest, even, unbelievably, among young people born after Bush 41 assumed office!

Franz Schubert

Anyways time to end this banal introductory paragraph! I possess several thousand shellacs ranging from Woody Hermon and Caruso to the original Carousel and imported Telefunkens, Polydors and Deutsche Grammophons and love my sitdown sessions, interrupted every three to five minutes by getting up to change the disc. I play them on a Magnavox console I bought for ten bucks at an Augusta yard sale at least 11 years ago – this gift has kept on giving in the old-fashioned sense, like cars that were traded in mainly because their owners were tired of looking at them!

I would like to offer hopefully succinct comments on a few I own:

A record from 1940, on the Masterpiece label, has sides five and six featuring two-thirds of the slow movement of Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony performed quite nicely by an unnamed orchestra. The New York Post spearheaded a series of record sets in the late ‘30s that contained Symphonies and other classical pieces that sold for a buck per set, instead of one or more dollars per record like Victor, Decca, Columbia, etc., but did not name the performers. Yet, because players and others, who were directly involved, talked, the story goes that there was a series of midnight recording sessions at Carnegie Hall with hand-picked free-lancers and conductors such as Eugene Ormandy, Fritz Reiner, Artur Rodzinski and Fritz Stiedry: names would be assigned to different works as more useful snitchings occurred. Thus, Ormandy was revealed as responsible for the Schubert!

An acoustic Victor from the World War I years features the Arthur Pryor Band doing a lively, charming first half of Rossini’s William Tell Overture, itself a very favorite classic of mine. Unfortunately, it is the last half that contains Heigh Ho Silver. I have previously covered another Pryor breakable in these most edifying pages so I will refer the newly curious to an informative Wiki bio on the bandleader’s illustrious life.

Arthur Pryor

Another acoustic from the same label and recording decade has one side devoted to the Victor Minstrel Company, a chorus/orchestra combo performing Alabama Minstrels, a feisty medley consisting of then current hit songs – Fly Fly Fly, My Rosie Rambler that is not to be confused with Nat King Cole’s Ramblin’ Rose of more than 40 years later, and Linda, definitely not the Buddy Clark hit of more than 30 years later! These quaint celebrations of life in the then pellagra, hookworm and lynching – infested Deep South utopia are similar to the 1930s Mills Brothers Decca hit 78, Is It True What They Say About Dixie? and, of course, the 1940s Al Jolsen record of George Gershwin’s Swanee River, itself unsurpassed to this day as a rendition of that song! Finally, Jolsen sang it blackface in the movies before these practices were politically corrected.

Side two contains, again, Pryor’s Band doing Old Heidelberg, A Trip Up the Rhine that incorporates the Sailor’s Chorus from Wagner’s sterling opera, The Flying Dutchman.

One more – a Columbia acoustic from the Columbia Operatic Sextette, a mixed group of fine voices, performs the Donizetti Lucia di Lammermoor sextette, What from Vengeance, and Verdi’s Rigoletto quartet, Beauteous Daughter.

I might be pushing TMI here but I am certain somebody out there would like to know that all of the above selections are 12-inch discs.

REVIEW POTPOURRI: Singer: Dick Haymes; Composer: Irving Berlin

Peter Catesby Peter Cates

Dick Haymes Sings Irving Berlin

MCA, MCL 1773, LP, released 1983 and based on Decca 78 originals.

Irving Berlin

Irving Berlin (1888-1989), born Israel Baline, in Czarist Russia, came to America with his parents to escape the frequent bloody pogroms occurring there. He left home at the age of eight years, eking out a living as a newsboy. Other subsistent jobs would eventually lead to songwriting, begun with Marie from Sunny Italy, his first published song; the publisher misspelled his name as I. Berlin and Baline kept it for the rest of his very long life.

Within a few short years, the hits started with Alex­ander’s Rag­time Band, Play a Simple Melody, and Everybody’s Doin’ It.

Meanwhile, for more than 70 years, he created an avalanche of songs, of which at least 60 were megahits that still generate royalties for his estate. Dozens of singers covered them on record, especially Bing Crosby, Perry Como, Pat Boone, etc. George Gershwin considered him, “the greatest songwriter who ever lived;” Jerome Kern quipped, “Irving Berlin has no place in American music; he is American music.”

Dick Haymes

Tommy Dorsey

Many music lovers consider Dick Haymes (1918-1980) the finest singer among the sizable pool of talent to emerge during the ‘30s and ‘40s Big Band Era. The story has been verified that Haymes began writing songs as a means to earn a living, and submitted a few to bandleader Harry James. The trumpeter refused the songs but hired Haymes as a singer to replace then recently departed Frank Sinatra, who had meanwhile signed with Tommy Dorsey.

Haymes worked with Benny Goodman and then was introduced by Sinatra himself to Dorsey as a suggested replacement when Sinatra decided to pursue a solo career. Inevitably, Haymes too left Dorsey, became a success and signed with Decca records, scoring nine gold records. His popularity in films increased with 1945’s State Fair. And, even later when his career waned, all of his records would be treasured by collectors simply because he was a great singer and conveyed a sincerity and passion for singing right up to his last years before his death at 61 from lung cancer .

Benny Goodman

Finally, he was married six times, one of his wives being Rita Hayworth and this side of his life having considerable potential for a biographer.

The above reissue contains sixteen 78 sides devoted to Berlin, who was a special favorite of Haymes and includes The Girl That I Marry, Little Fish in a Big Pond, All Alone, Let’s Take an Old-Fashioned Walk, Say It With Music and my own personal favorite, You’re Just In Love, with Ethel Merman and the most exquisite, enchanting arrangement by Gordon Jenkins. A gem of an album!

REVIEW POTPOURRI – TV series: The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet

Peter Catesby Peter Cates

Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet

starring Ozzie, Harriet, David and Ricky Nelson; ABC network, 435 episodes between Oct. 3, 1952 – April 23, 1966.

The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet was one of the two or three longest running comedy shows in TV history. From 1944-54 – the last two years simultaneously on TV, it was a hugely successful radio program. In 1952, Ozzie (1906-1975) persuaded ABC to sign an unprecedented 10-year contract that paid the family, whether the show was cancelled or not, and then his perfectionist work ethic contributed to its rousing success on TV.

All four Nelsons played themselves but, otherwise, the stories had very little to do with their real lives, although, during the introduction, they stood in front of their actual house (the interior was painstakingly reproduced on the studio backlot where each episode was filmed). For me, the show’s enjoyment derived from the daily life family situations and the cleverly sketched humor naturally arising from those situations.

The Nelson Family, Front, Ozzie & Harriet; Back, David and Ricky

Examples included the following:

Don Defoe (1913-1993) played the intrusive but likable neighbor, Thorney, – perpetrator of mischief and misunderstandings. Later, Lyle Talbot (1902-1996) and Mary Jane Croft (1916-1993) portrayed Joe and Clara, whose involvement in back and forth antics between them and the Nelsons brought much comic relief.

Next, what fan could forget Rick’s giggling, bungling, free-loading friend, Wally Plumsted, who often provoked his long-suffering girlfriend, Ginger, who in turn so often referred to him as Fatso; both Skip Young (1930-1993) and Charlene Salerno (1938-1986) scored high points with their meticulously honed timing, delivery and vivid characterization – oddly, Salerno never appeared elsewhere on any TV show and film.

Finally, Ozzie himself could hold his own for unexpected, very funny facial expressions and movements. I lost track of the number of split seconds where he suddenly made a face at us viewers.

Harriet (1909-1994) was the sturdy assuring mother figure, David (1936-2011), the earnest good son and older brother, and Ricky (1940-1985) was endearing in his own constant desire to do what’s right, occasionally straying off the plantation with farcical moments of bad judgment. When he became a recording star, his father devoted the last five minutes of several episodes to him and his band performing a recent hit song.

Various video cassettes and DVDs have been released of episodes from the 14-year run but a complete set of all 435 episodes have been gathered and slated for DVD/Blue Ray release.

REVIEW POTPOURRI – TV Series: Breakout Kings; Conductor: Jonel Perlea; Composer: Maurice Ravel

Peter Catesby Peter Cates

Breakout Kings

starring Laz Alonso, Dominick Lombardozzi, Malcolm Goodwin, Serinda Swan, Jimmi Simpson and Brooke Nevin, produced for A&E, 2011-12, 23 episodes, 43 minutes each.

Laz Alonso

Dominick Lombardozzi

Breakout Kings dealt with a special task force, led by an investigator, Charlie (Laz Alonso), and his assistant, Ray (Dominick Lom­bar­dozzi), to catch prisonors who have escaped, usually ones with violent criminal pasts. However, the two are utilizing the talents of three convicted felons because of their special insights into the criminal mind.

They are a former wholesaler of drugs and weapons, Shea (Malcolm Goodwin); a murderer of five gang members for killing her dad, Erica (Serinda Swan); and a prescriber of illegal pharmaceuticals and a professional behaviorist, Lowery (Jimmi Simpson). All are compensated for their services by being transferred from maximum pens to minimum security residencies, and given one month off their remaining years for each recapture. But, if even one tries to escape, all three will be returned to their previous joint and have their sentences doubled.

Serinda Swan

Malcolm Goodwin

Finally, there is Julianne, the talented analyst and researcher, who was top in her police academy class before being overtaken by depression and other emotional disorders and who is portrayed in a very high-calibre performance by the Canadian actress, Brooke Nevin.

Brooke Nevin

I have already viewed season one and found each episode entertaining, even though a bit predictable. The cast does good work in making their characters believable and, especially as the series proceeds along, quite engaging and sympathetic.


Jonel Perlea conducts the Bamberg Symphony; Vox-STPL 510.220, stereo lp, recorded 1963.

Jonel Perlea

Conductor Jonel Perlea (1900-1970) recorded a number of LPs for Vox after a 1957 stroke limited him to his left arm. But he delivered a number of good performances, including exceptionally fine readings of the Beethoven Emperor and Chopin First with pianist Guiomar Novaes, and this intense Scheherazade, one of a really good catalog of different recordings of the work.


Pavan for a Dead Princess; Menuet Antique; Rhapsodie Espagnole- Manuel Rosenthal conducting the Orchestra of the National Opera of Paris; Westminster, WST 14023, recorded early ‘60s.

Maurice Ravel

Manuel Rosenthal (1904-2003) was most prominent for his concoction of Offenbach tunes, known as the Gaite Parisienne ballet. His conducting of these Ravel four staples is very good and, for collectors of duplicates, Ravel and conductors below the radar, this LP is worth a search.

REVIEW POTPOURRI: Film: Cheers for Miss Bishop; Bass singer: Feodor Chaliapin; Conductor: Simon Rattle

Peter Catesby Peter Cates

Cheers for Miss Bishop

starring Martha Scott, William Gargan, Edmund Gwenn, Sterling Holloway, Sidney Blackmer, etc.; directed by Tay Garnett; United Artists, 1941, 95 minutes, DVD.

Martha Scott

William Gargan

I have seen and enjoyed this warm-hearted soap opera twice, if such a term can be employed. Martha Scott (1913-2003) portrays an English teacher, Ella Bishop, who serves for over 40 years at the college in her mid-western small town. William Gargan is a local businessman and loyal, lifelong friend, Sam, deeply in love with her forever but never having the gumption to declare it.

The story begins with Ella graduating from high school the year that the college opens. Both her character and academic work win over the president of the college, played by Edmund Gwenn with his consistent blend of understated class, to such an extent that, upon her college graduation and ambition to teach in one of the big cities, he immediately offers her a position.

Edmund Gwenn

Sterling Holloway

She wins many hearts and minds with her passionate commitment to her work over the years but her heart is broken twice by suiters. Meanwhile, she raises a daughter born out of wedlock to a younger cousin dying during childbirth. Finally, upon retirement, she is honored at a surprise and massively attended alumni banquet that includes a number of former students who have attained world fame because of her inspiration to them.

Sidney Blackmer

Every member of the cast gave A-plus performances while the film, despite a rather predictable story, was shot and paced in such a vivid, agreeable manner, as has been the case of similar movies from the ‘40s, that viewers were, and still are, drawn in.

In 1960, William Gargan, had his larynx removed due to throat cancer, had to speak through a voicebox and became an activist for helping others who had experienced laryngectomies to learn to speak again.

Borodin: Prince Igor

Recitative and Air of Prince Galitsky
Feodor Chaliapin, bass, with orchestra; Victrola- 87361; ten-inch one-sided 78 shellac, recorded 1920.

Feodor Chaliapin

Feodor Chaliapin (1873-1938) is arguably considered the finest bass singer who ever lived and gives an electrifying performance of the Borodin aria listed above. But he did not achieve his fame only through singing but also as an actor; he impressed the composer Rachmaninoff, with whom he had a long friendship, and many others with the painstaking detail with which he planned every line, movement and position in the roles he performed.

Finally, he was a notorious carouser who maintained two separate families with a wife and mistress.

Most of his many 78 records are available in CD form and for listening on YouTube.


Symphonic Dances & Vocalise
Simon Rattle conducting the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra; Angel, DS 538019, recorded 10-23-1982 and 2-28-83, digital stereo LP.

Simon Rattle

Rachmaninoff completed his Symphonic Dances in October 1940, with the words, “I thank Thee, Lord!” and, due to poor health and constant fatigue, did little besides completing the final revision of his 4th Piano Concerto before his death during his 70th year in 1943. He would entrust the world premiere to the Philadelphia Orchestra, with whom he left recordings of his four concertos and the Paganini Rhapsody with himself at the keyboard, and still in print on CDs.

The Symphonic Dances make for exciting listening with their very colorful rhythms and captivating melodies. Sir Simon Rattle recorded very satisfactory performances of the Dances and the beautiful short Vocalise with its haunting passage for solo violin.

REVIEW POTPOURRI – Violinist: Piotr Janowski; TV episodes by Nelufar Hedayat; Pop singer: Julee Cruise

Peter Catesby Peter Cates


4th Violin Concerto
Szymanowski Ist Violin Concerto – Piotr Janowski, violin; Stanislaw Wislocki conducting the Warsaw National Philharmonic; Stolat SZM 0105, stereo LP, recorded 1967-68.

Piotr Janowski

Polish born Piotr Janowski (1951-2008) recorded both of these Concertos when he was 16 years old but plays in a wonderfully matured, accomplished manner with musicality galore and a seasoned conductor and orchestra. The Concertos are richly rewarding listening experiences that hold up well. The Szymanowski is a very shimmering, coloristic piece that has become a big favorite of mine in recent years. Mozart’s joyous 4th, along with his 2nd, 3rd, and 5th Concertos, was finished by 1775, when he was 19 and would never write again for any solo string instrument. A record well worth the search.

The Traffickers

hosted by Nelufar Hedayat; produced by Fusion and available on Netflix; premiered November 13, 2016; approximately 41 minutes for each of 8 episodes.

Nelufar Hedayat

Recently I watched the first episode of what promises to be an interesting series of investigative journalism on the black market in illegal commodities, The Traffickers, with already seven additional programs available on Netflix. Its topics include human trafficking, fake pharmaceuticals, weapons, human organs, etc.

The host, Nelufar Hedayat, is a 30-year-old Muslim woman, who has traveled light years around the globe to follow up even the most minor threads to both heighten and bolster each weekly topic. The one I saw dealt with the wholesale poaching of the rhino population, mainly found in South Africa’s Kruger Preserve. It is one of huge profit and supposedly minimal risk. But researchers have found an average of three rhinos being killed daily, thus concluding that the population will end up extinct. The demand, mainly found in Southeast Asia, centers on the supposed healing of every known disease through grinding the powder of the rhino’s horn, a belief held since the Middle Ages. Secondly, the filthy rich enjoy the various trinkets carved and whittled from the horn, with which they flaunt their wealth .

Hedayat and her staff risk their lives talking to the involved criminal elements and depict the dangers to communities where the animals are processed.

Highly recommended!

Julee Cruise

Floating Into the Night
Warner Brothers, 4-25859, cassette, recorded 1989.

Julee Cruise

I have commented elsewhere on this cassette being one of the most beautiful albums of late ‘80s pop music I have ever heard. Julee Cruise, now 61, is a very talented singer who was provided a number of songs here by composer Angelo Badalamenti, all of them in the sweet, dream-like, ethereal category and music one can listen to or simply relax with. Cruise and Badala­menti both worked with director David Lynch who was then involved with his creation, Twin Peaks, a cult favorite among TV viewers, and were associated with some of Lynch’s other projects as well. The Wiki bio on Cruise is rather insightful and quite interesting.

REVIEW POTPOURRI – Record: After the Ball; Composer: Stravinsky; Album: Living Marimbas

Peter Catesby Peter Cates

After the Ball

Joan Morris, soprano, with William Bolcom, piano. Nonesuch H-71304, stereo LP, recorded 1974.

Joan Morris and her husband, William Bolcom, have been serving up records and concerts for over 45 years since the early seventies, their specialty being popular songs and composers from the Civil War to the ‘50s Lieber and Stoller. One album spotlighted Henry Clay Work, who wrote My Grandfather’s Clock.

The above set collects classic and not so classic vaudeville hits – Meet Me in Saint Louis, I‘ve Got Rings on My Fingers, the title song, my special favorite Love’s Old Sweet Song and ten others – and Joan Morris gives her charming colorful soprano best with her husband’s skilled keyboard. Their approach is that of the Sunday afternoon drawing room or parlor at Aunt Blanche’s but it is one making for great listening, in small doses!


Suite Italienne
Debussy: Sonata for Cello and Piano; Busoni: Kleine Suite, Op. 23; Foss: Capriccio for Cello and Piano – Gregor Piatigorsky, cello; Lukas Foss, piano; RCA Victor, LM-2293, mono LP, recorded 1958.

Gregor Piatigorsky

Gregor Piatigorsky (1903-1976) was a bear of a man in his physique as well as being one of the 20th century’s truly fine cellists and turning out recordings characterized by a special kind of electrifying intensity and sublime beauty. Two special favorites are his early ‘40s Dvorak Cello Concerto with Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra and the two Brahms Cello Sonatas from the ‘70s with pianist Artur Rubinstein.

This week’s record contains the listed works by four quite gifted and interesting modern composers. However, my favorite piece is the just over 10 minute Debussy Cello Sonata, one of the most beautiful examples of quiet sweet subtlety, mystery and bursting rhythm ever written by anyone and performed in the most alive, exciting yet delicate manner by the cellist and his partner, composer/pianist Lucas Foss.

Living Marimbas

Tijuana Taxis
RCA Camden, CAS-961, stereo LP, recorded 1966.

This batch of ten ‘60s Latin-American tunes, including the two classics, Spanish Eyes and Spanish Harlem, is arranged and performed by a studio group of carefully handpicked instrumentalists under the noted pop conductor, Leo Addeo, in an understated manner that is pleasant but not moving.

REVIEW POTPOURRI – Composer: Schumann; Movie: Boys’ Night Out; Band Leader: Ralph Flanagan

Peter Catesby Peter Cates


Symphonies and various works for piano and orchestra and solo piano

Robert Schumann

Heidrun Holtmann and Denes Varjon, pianists; Sir Neville Marriner conducting the Stuttgart Radio Orchestra; Stefan Soltesz conducting the Berlin Radio Symphony; Capriccio- LC 08748, 5 CDs, released 2006.

This very generously filled package of five CDs contains some of the most lovable classical music in the world by Robert Schumann, 1810-1856; very nicely performed and blessed with vibrant digital sound; and priced in a range very close to ten bucks.

I especially recommend the sweeping, swash-buckling 3rd Symphony, known as the Rhenish, for its grand depiction of the Rhine River or maybe the Kinderszenen, or Scenes of Childhood, with its fountains of melody. But I will state that every piece of music will reward attentive listeners. An unquestionable recommendation for beginning classical listeners!

Boys’ Night Out

starring James Garner, Howard Duff, Howard Morris, Tony Randall, Kim Novak, Patti Page, etc.; directed by Michael Gordon; MGM films, 1962, 115 minutes.

James Garner

Howard Duff

Four businessmen, three of them married, commute together on the Greenwich to New York City train every day. The husbands persuade the bachelor to find a cheap yet swanky apartment, complete with a gorgeous “housekeeper,” to entertain each of them on their respective nights out. Due to an inscrutable set of coincidences, the digs are found, along with a woman, Cathy, played with fetching allure by Kim Novak, who is doing graduate work on male sexuality and agrees to the deal, fully intending to, using her wiles, avoid the bed.

Kim Novak

Patti Page

One choice example of humor is when Cathy’s professor asks, “Can you look like yes but act like no? This is what a nice girl hasn’t learnt!” To which Cathy replies, “This is what a nice girl has learnt best!”

The comedy is superbly done, as the story builds up to a truly farcical conclusion. Garner as the bachelor and the rest of the cast give a true ensemble performance.

Ralph Flanagan

1001 Nighters
RCA Victor, LPM-1274, mono LP, recorded 1956.

Ralph Flanagan

Ralph Flanagan (1914-1995) began his career in 1935, just as the Big Band era was getting started, and worked for Sammy Kaye, Horace Heidt and Blue Barron; after World War II, he did arrangements for Perry Como, Tony Martin, etc.

However, it wasn’t until 1949 that he really hit the big time with the formation of his own band with its very danceable sound, quite similar to Glenn Miller. He discovered traveling on the road was the real cash cow, although record sales were a close second, and he loved every minute of it. The title of the album refers to the minimal number of evenings chalked up by these journeys over a six-year period.

The selections to be heard here include such oldies as Indiana, Stars Fell On Alabama, Moon Over Miami, etc., with a group of singers joining in for a few titles. Glenn Miller fans would especially enjoy this very pleasant record.