Bing Crosby must have been hoping that lightning would strike for a third time donning a priest’s collar in Frank Tashlin’s Say One for Me, but sad to say, the skies remained clear and lightning free. The movie brought Debbie Reynolds back to musicals after an absence of a few years, and while she’s charming and Crosby’s reliable baritone is at its mellowest, the movie just refuses to spring to life.
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 480I/MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audio: English 2.0 DD
Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 1 Hr. 59 Min.
Package Includes: DVD
Disc Type: DVD-R
Release Date: 02/01/2013
Father Conroy’s (Bing Crosby) parish serves the Broadway theater district, and he holds special masses in the early morning to accommodate the late night hours many entertainers in New York must keep. His good friend actor Harry LaMaise (Les Tremayne) suffers a heart attack and requires an operation, so his daughter Holly (Debbie Reynolds) decides to leave college and find work as a show girl in a small off-Broadway club headlined by slick entertainer Tony Vincent (Robert Wagner). The good father doesn’t approve of Holly’s decision, and knowing Tony’s reputation as a womanizer, he’s doubly concerned about her welfare. But she’s determined to make good, and with the help of Tony’s accompanist Phil Stanley (Ray Walston), she becomes a key part of his act. But Tony wants to make the really big time, and if he has to use Holly and her connections with Father Conroy who knows everyone in show business in order to do it, so be it.
The Production Rating: 2.5/5
For so slim a story, it’s amazing that the film needs to run for almost two hours regardless of the number of musical sequences packed into it. Robert O'Brien’s screenplay doesn’t miss many clichés of the genre whether it be the Pal Joey-lite heel who’s central to the story or the good church-going girl who the father is sure can’t make her own correct moral choices (and as it turns out, she has no problem at all fending off the wolf). There’s the boozy once-famous songwriter now reduced to accompanying others, and the unwed chorus girl (Alena Murray) who’s a mother convinced God wants no part of her sinful situation and who must be convinced to come back to the church. The score contains songs by Oscar-winning James Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn, but it didn’t produce any song hits or standards. Still, the title song is rather lovely and in the five-minute pre-credit sequence gets the movie off to a nice start with both Crosby and Reynolds singing in counterpoint to one another. Debbie gets to show off both singing and dancing in “Choo-Choo” and shares the stage with Robert Wagner in “You Can’t Love ‘Em All” and “The Girl Most Likely to Succeed.” Wagner, however, is a major problem with extremely limited singing and dancing talent but playing someone with the gifts of a Sammy Davis, Jr., he’s extremely uncomfortable in the part (the young Dean Martin would have been perfect for this). For some reason, Judy Harriet (dubbed by Rosemary Jun) as a teen singing sensation is given “The Night That Rock ‘n Roll Died,” a real dud number, but Bing gets two big solos: “I Couldn’t Care Less” and the “Secret of Christmas” sung in the finale.
Bing Crosby and Debbie Reynolds (who was number five at the box-office during 1959 but not due to this picture), both show biz pros experienced in song and dance, go through their less than exciting chores amiably, but Robert Wagner’s miscasting doesn’t do his numbers any favor. However, he’s completely believable as the narcissistic user out to make a name for himself. Connie Gilchrist plays the same busybody domestic she’d been playing for twenty years as parish cook Mary while Ray Walston does a convincing job playing drunk for much of the movie even if his rehabilitation, while expected, comes with only the barest of motivations. Sebastian Cabot has a nice one-scene role as Monsignor Francis Stratford who’s instrumental in allowing Father Conroy to stage a big television spectacular, and look quickly in the background and you’ll see Stella Stevens as one of the chorus girls at the club.
Fox says it right up front that the picture has been modified to fit the screen, only with widescreen televisions de rigueur now, it doesn’t fit the screen at all. Pan and scan monstrosities of Cinemascope/Panavision originals should be outlawed in the 21st century, and no studio should be resorting to them, not even in a made-on-demand program. After all, the people who would want a fifty-four year old film on DVD are fans of the movie who want to see the entire image, not an image missing almost half of the original picture. For the record, the opening and closing credits are letterboxed non-anamorphically and with colored letterboxed bars.
Video Rating: 2/5 3D Rating: NA
As for the 1.33:1 image that we do have, the color looks to have faded some from the original presentation as reds are the only colors that seem to have any snap at all, and most of the image is dated looking and rather lackluster. Sharpness is diluted with the blown-up image, and there’s a good deal of dirt and dust specks to be seen throughout. The film has been divided into chapters every ten minutes so this disc has 12 chapters.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound mix gives some sparkle to the music even though the directionalized dialogue proves problematic to the transfer and winds up with some odd configurations of voice placement in the mix. Hiss and other aural artifacts have been kept under control and never prove bothersome, however, and fidelity is better than one might expect for a movie of this era.
Audio Rating: 3.5/5
There are no bonus features on this made-on-demand disc.
Special Features Rating: 0/5
Despite some agreeable songs, Say One for Me doesn’t make for a particularly memorable musical, and the pan and scan transfer of the Cinemascope material further damages the film’s shaky reputation. This is another bitterly disappointing entry in the Fox made-on-demand program.
Overall Rating: 2.5/5
Reviewed By: Matt Hough
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