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Bob Hope is remembered as the 20th century celebrity most devoted to entertaining the troops. Bing Crosby, Hope’s partner on seven Road to… films, sang the song that became an unlikely alternate national anthem during World War II. This is the story of Hope and Crosby’s partnership, their rivalry, and the different ways they endeared themselves to the boys overseas. Included: Hope’s embrace of multi-media celebrity and his mastery of hosting the Oscars; and Crosby’s road from drunk driving to blackface, to being voted the most admired man in America.
I debated whether to make this one episode or two, and ultimately I decided to combine them because a) there was maybe not enough to material to do a standalone show on Crosby, and b) I frankly didn’t have enough enthusiasm to do a standalone show on Hope. But in going the double-episode route, I made the decision to condense the section on the Road to… films, in order to include a section on Holiday Inn. I did this primarily because I really enjoy Holiday Inn, but also because the things about it that are problematic (cough, blackface) also peg the film to its exact time in a way that seemed worth exploring within this series, which is all about what Hollywood was like during this specific moment when the makeup of the planet was under threat.
This week’s primary texts were Richard Zoglin’s recent Bob Hope biography Hope: Entertainer of the Century; Jody Rosen’s book on "White Christmas"; and the American Masters documentaryBing Crosby: Rediscovered, directed by Robert Trachtenberg. This episode contains clips from the films Going Hollywood (this video clip is incredible, I highly recommend it) and Holiday Inn, and this clip of BobHope hosting the Oscars.
Love Walked in performed by the Louis Armstrong Orchestra
Thanks for the Memory performed by BobHope and Shirley Ross
Balcarabic Chicken by Quantum Jazz
Dances and Dames by Kevin MacLeod
Two Fat Feet by Fiery Furnaces
Rub Alcohol Blues by Fiery Furnaces
Barbara performed by US Army Blues
White Christmas by Irving Berlin, performed by Bing Crosby
Au coin de la rue by Marco Raaphorst
OLPC by Marco Raaphorst
Danse Morialta by Kevin MacLeod
Silent Lucidity by Queensryche
White Christmas performed by Otis Redding