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7 Facts You Never Knew About "White Christmas"

Before A Christmas Story, before the Grinch and Charlie Brown, most Baby Boomers’ holiday tradition was watching the movie White Christmas, the 1954 musical starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen. We saw it so often, we probably knew almost every line by heart.

But here are a few things you probably didn’t know about the movie:

1. The Danny Kaye part was intended for Fred Astaire. The movie began as a quasi-remake of Holiday Inn, the black & white film that first teamed Bing Crosby and Astaire and the movie debut of the Irving Berlin song, “White Christmas.” But Astaire had announced his retirement (it wouldn’t stick) and turned the part down. It was then offered to Donald O’Connor, who accepted. Then he became ill and had to bow out. So, Kaye was the producers' third choice.

2. The musical number “Sisters” wasn’t in the original script. Crosby and Kaye were horsing around with the girls’ costume on the set. It cracked up director Michael Curtiz so much that he had the number worked up and included in the film.

3. Try and see Vera Ellen’s neck. Throughout the film, Vera is always wearing a turtleneck, scarf or other covering around her neck. No one knows why. Some theorize that there was some flaw in her neck that she was covering up. Others think it was Vera Ellen’s attempt to create a trademark look for herself.

4. While Rosemary Clooney plays Vera Ellen’s older sister, she was actually 7 years younger than her co-star. Also, Bing Crosby was a bit older than Dean Jagger, who plays “the old general” in the film. By the way, Bing was nearly twice Clooney’s age (51 to her 26!).

5. If you look closely, you’ll see future West Side Story star George Chakiris as a chorus boy in the production numbers.

6. The photo of “Benny the Dog-Faced Boy” who was brother to Rosemary & Vera is a photo of a grown-up Alfalfa Switzer of Little Rascals fame.

7. Bob Fosse worked on the film as an uncredited choreographer. It was early in the legendary dancer/choreographer/director’s career and Vera Ellen brought him on to choreograph her numbers, but without screen credit.

The Bombshell and the Virgin

The two biggest box office attractions of the late 1950s and early 1960s had many similarities and two huge differences.

Both were blondes.

Both were very pretty.

Both changed their names when they got into show business.

Both worked primarily in hugely successful comedies, but were also effective in straight dramas.

The differences – one embraced an openly sexual persona, the other played the perpetual uptight virgin. One self-destructed by 1962, the other is still with us.

We’re talking, of course, about Marilyn Monroe and Doris Day.

Read more: The Bombshell and the Virgin

Now Playing at the Boomtown Drive-In: "I Married a Monster from Outer Space"

Just like I Walked with a Zombie, behind the incredibly silly title lurks a pretty decent little B-movie.

I Married a Monster from Outer Space was made by Paramount Pictures in 1958. Directed by Gene Fowler and written by Louis Vittes, it involves a young suburban bride (Gloria Talbot) who comes to suspect that her husband (Tom Tryon) has somehow changed since their recent marriage. She is wrong on that account. Her husband hasn’t changed, he’s been totally replaced by the afore-mentioned monster. So have several other husbands in her neighborhood.

Yes, the plot seems like a blatant rip-off of the oft-remade sci-fi classic, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, but the acting, script and production values (particularly how lightning can reveal parts of the monster’s true visage) are very well done.

Obviously intended for the drive-ins that were so popular at the time, I Married a Monster from Outer Space was actually part of a double feature Paramount put together. The “second great co-hit” was a little film that was a lot sillier but has fared a lot better in people’s memories – The Blob!

I Married a Monster from Outer Space is available on DVD and from several online streaming services. Trust us, it’s worth a look. And keep watching the skies!

Creature Features for Halloween Viewing

If you’re planning to watch some vintage horror movies during Halloween week, here are our recommendations for some films not quite as well known as Frankenstein, Dracula and the Wolf Man:

The Cat People (1942) – The first in a series of classic horror films produced by Val Lewton (on a shoestring budget). This one deals with a young woman who will not have sex with her husband, fearing that if she does she will turn into a deadly panther and kill him. How they even handled this mature plot in the prudish 40’s make this worth a watch.

The Body Snatcher (1945) – Not to be confused with Invasion of the Body Snatchers, this is another Val Lewton gem that features the final on-screen teaming of Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi. Based on a story by Robert Louis Stevenson, this movie is about grave-robbing in Scotland.

Dr. Jeckyll and Sister Hyde (1971) – Speaking of Stevenson, this is a unique take-off of his famous and oft-filmed horror story. Instead of becoming a raging brute, the good doctor transforms into a gorgeous, but equally murderous woman. This Hammer film works far better than it might because the resemblance between Ralph Bates and his female alter ego, Martine Beswick is astonishing.

The Others (2001) – A genuinely creepy little ghost story that stars Nicole Kidman as a mother fiercely protecting her two children in a remote country house while waiting for her husband to return from World War II. To give any more details would be to spoil the marvelous chills that this film delivers.

Halloween Creature Feature - I Walked with a Zombie

I Walked with a Zombie may be the best movie with the dumbest title in motion picture history. Cranked out by b-movie horror unit at RKO pictures in 1943, this low budget gem is far better than you might expect.

This was the second in a strong of really good low-key horror movie produced under the supervision of Val Lewton, one of filmland’s most underappreciated artists.

RKO had two rules he had to follow. One, he had to produce his films on a small budget. Two, he had to use titles the studio’s marketing department had already dreamed up and tested. The studio didn’t care about the actual plots, as long as Lewton used the titles.

So after they saddled Lewton with The Cat People and he turned that title into a really great horror movie, they gave him an even sillier title for his follow-up.

I Walked with a Zombie concerns a young nurse (Frances Dee) who arrives at a sugar plantation on the Caribbean island of Saint Sebastian. She is to care for the invalid wife of the plantation’s owner, played by Tom Conway. The wife appears near catatonic and is given to taking silent, dreamlike walks at night. The local legend is that the wife is not sick, but actually dead and returned to life as a zombie by the island’s voodoo practitioners.

Read more: Halloween Creature Feature - I Walked with a Zombie

Besides Diana Ross, what other two girls made up the original Supremes?

Flo Ballard and Mary Wilson
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