All Night Long, 1962

Based on Shakespeare’s Othello, this is a story of racism, jealousy, betrayal, and love. Othello’s themes are transformed into the 1960’s setting and music.

This music-filled film stars Patrick McGoohan as Johnny Cousin (cue the bad guy music), Betsy Blair as Emily, Paul Harris as Aurelius Rex, Marti Stevens as Delia Lane, and Richard Attenborough as Rod Hamilton the host of the party. Many excellent jazz musicians were featured as themselves: Dave Brubeck, John Dankworth, Charles Mingus, and Tubby Hayes among others.

Crazy good music in this film. The musicians come together to play for each other rather than for a ticket-holding audience. Pure fun.

Geoffrey Holder, a dancer famous for many things such as winning a Tony award for directing The Wiz on Broadway and his 7-Up TV commercials, appeared as himself in this movie.

Music is Celebration

Our Thanksgiving Day is a holiday we celebrate as Americans, but Christmas is celebrated all around the globe. If the whole world could pick one day to come together and express thanks for our individual blessings, not only would I be stunned by God once again making the impossible possible, I would also expect to hear celebration music from many different cultures.

I remember my children singing unashamedly during their play time. They made up their own songs or sang songs they heard on CDs. That memory makes me wonder what life would be like if adults belted out songs of thanksgiving when something good happened. What if adults used Thanksgiving weekend to show appreciation to God by singing to him?

Join me at Seek God With Me for a look at how we celebrate in song. Birthday parties have their song. What should we sing on Thanksgiving Day?

Pot O' Gold, 1941

James Stewart plays James (Jimmy) Hamilton Haskell, the owner of a failing music shop who must accept help from his uncle. Jimmy’s Uncle Charlie owns a big factory in the city, but country boy Jimmy doesn’t really want to be a part of it. Uncle Charlie wants to hire him and help him flee the small town.

Paulette Goddard plays Molly McCorkle who sings with a new band that rehearses on the roof of their apartment building, which happens to be located next door to Uncle Charlie’s factory. Since Uncle Charlie is known for being a music hater, neighbors encourage the band and oppose Uncle Charlie’s attempts at shutting down the music.

When Jimmy mistakenly is hauled off to jail, he adds his harmonica to the lovely voices of his cell-mates. Don’t all jail cells house criminals with lovely voices? (James Stewart’s harmonica playing was dubbed by two musicians.) Uncle Charlie is surprised when he sees Jimmy in jail. The mix up is settled, and since her mom offered to put him in one of their rooms for rent, Jimmy has more time to spend with Molly.

Jimmy sorts through one tangle after another until Uncle Charlie’s worst fears come to pass. Then Uncle Charlie finds out that it isn’t in his best interests to be so stubbornly against music.

I love the down-home sweetness in the characters James Stewart plays. This character is so lovable that he doesn’t really have any enemies. However, if there had been another eligible girl in the show, there would’ve been real trouble.

In the beginning of the movie, the music shop features the music of a couple of children. One very young girl plays the piano like she’s been a professional her whole life. The little boy plays the trombone like he’s been playing in big bands for years. Eye-opening talent.

Music is Communication

When my husband sings me a love song, I don’t hear the song as much as I hear his message. It’s a sacrifice for him since he’s not really a singer. I understand and appreciate what he’s doing to get his message across. When we sing in church, I’m pretty sure God feels the same way about us. He isn’t interested in hearing “professional performance” voices, because he wants to hear our message.

Today on Seek God With Me, I’m sharing about how we communicate with God in our music. Do you find moments of sheer joy and need to put on some music you can sing along with? Try singing to God today.

Join me at Seek God With Me.

Babes in Arms, 1939

When kids of show people are told they’re getting sent off to school while their song and dance parents are on tour, Mickey Rooney, as Mickey Moran, leads the children in a show that town will never forget. He enlists the help of a beautiful out-of-work child actor without realizing she’s probably going to ruin his relationship with his girlfriend Patsy Barton, played by Judy Garland.

Mickey Rooney started his film career in 1926, and at 91 years old, he’s still working today. That’s the longest career in film history, performances in each of ten decades. I’ve seen him in Manhattan Melodrama 1934, Captains Courageous 1937, Babes in Arms 1939, National Velvet 1944, Operation Mad Ball 1957, It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World 1963, The Black Stallion 1979, The Fox and the Hound 1981, and Night at the Museum 2006. When The Muppets releases this month, I will have seen him perform in films released in eight of the ten decades.

Margaret Hamilton played Martha Steele. This was the second time that year she played a villain opposite Judy Garland. Babes in Arms released just two months after The Wizard of Oz.

There were some very memorable musical moments in Babes in Arms. Because of his work in this film, Rooney became the first teen with an Oscar nomination for a leading role. With both Rooney and Garland growing up as child actors and short as adults, (Garland was just under five foot and Rooney was 5’2”), they were easy to cast as teens even after they were older.

Music Makes Things Memorable

I have found it interesting that you can find a lot of songs in the Bible. After Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt and across the Red Sea on dry ground, they sang a song. People sang about David’s bravery with, “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.” And in the book of Revelation (Rev 5:9) a song was sung to Jesus, “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.”

What do you do to celebrate a major event in your life? Most people around me sing “Happy Birthday To You” a few times each year for their family and friends. I look forward to Christmastime because there are many opportunities to hear Handel’s “Messiah”, which is some of my favorite music.

What do you sing about?

Join me today at Seek God With Me for a look at how we mark those memorable moments with music.

The Great Ziegfeld, 1936

William Powell is easy to love as the great Florenz Ziegfeld Jr. This generous man, who makes and loses fortunes in the entertainment industry, spends money on the people around him. He makes friends easily and knows how to put a luxurious show together.

Ziegfeld’s competition with Billings begins when they work as sideshow barkers and continues throughout their lives. When Ziegfeld produces extravagant stage shows, he has the eye of the public, but can’t seem to hold onto their money.

The love story is woven into the film, showing Ziegfeld as a poor producer with a heart of gold and a spending problem. Both of his wives were loved, but disappointed he couldn’t rise above his weaknesses.

This film won a Best Picture Oscar, the first biopic to do so. Other Academy Awards included Luise Rainer’s Best Actress win and Seymour Felix’s Best Dance Direction win. Academy Award nominations included Best Writing of an Original Story, Best Film Editing, Best Director, and Best Art Direction.

I enjoyed the scenes where Ziegfeld and Billings competed with each other. Billings was played by the great and powerful Frank Morgan, who played the great and powerful Oz in 1939. Speaking of Oz, Billie Burke, who played Glinda the good whose transportation was a bubble, was one of Ziegfeld’s wives. Myrna Loy played Billie Burke in The Great Ziegfeld, and even received a visit from the real Billie Burke while filming the story about her husband. This is one of the fourteen films Loy and William Powell were in together.

The actor who played the all-brawn, no-brain, strongman was Eugen Sandow, also known as the Father of Bodybuilding. He used both his brain and his brawn to build quite a career.

Music has Passion

Music is a magical tool. You can make people cry by playing a sad song or laugh by playing a funny song. You can feel cold by playing popular Christmas songs, even in the summer. You can make people move if the music so hot your toes are compelled to tap.

I’ve heard a piano sound like a bee (Flight of the Bumblebee) and a trumpet sound like a horse. Music can set the stage for romance or give you a rhythm to skate by.

But the only time music moves you is when it is being performed with a lot of heart. The audience can tell if the musicians are giving it all they’ve got. This reminds me of the verse in the book of Revelation (Rev 3:15-16) that speaks to having a passion either for or against something.
I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.
Having no passion at all is distasteful.

This month, I’m writing about music. I’ll post reviews of movies that have songs that make you want to dance. And on Seek God With Me, I’ll bring up Bible verses about how God uses music. Let’s start our vocal warm-ups as you Seek God With Me.