The Mighty Wurlitzer at the Castro Theatre, San Francisco

San Francisco, open your Golden Gate
You’ll let no stranger wait outside your door
San Francisco, here is your wanderin’ one
Saying I’ll wander no more

The Castro Theatre was our neighborhood picture palace back in San Francisco. Went to dozens of movies there, sometimes with Mister Grumble (this is when he still could see), sometimes with the Bograt, sometimes with both: King Kong, Casablanca, The Garden of Allah, The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek, that movie Steve’s son was in called Brokeback Mountain, etc etc etc. But the organ was always the best part.

David Hegarty at the 389-rank Harrah Symphonic Organ - YouTube.png

Here‘s David Hagerty between evening shows giving the best of The Mighty Wurlitzer and ending (starting at 8:17), as he always does at every performance, with an inspiring rendition of the official anthem of my spiritual birthplace, “San Francisco” (Bronislaw Kaper and Walter Jurmann, lyrics by Gus Kahn, 1936).

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“Hooray for Hollywood Overture” Orchestrated by John Wilson, Conducted by John Wilson, and Played by the John Wilson Orchestra, So There

For their show at the 2011 BBC Proms, inconveniently called Hooray for Hollywood, John and the JWO performed an overall satisfying medley of tunes from the pictures, tunes chosen and orchestrated by my self-satisfied darling himself. Starting with John’s ripoff of Ray Heinsdorf’s execrable arrangement (that hard downbeat!) of the Gershwin brothers’ 1919 “Swanee” (Jolson turning in his grave), it does get better: “Lullaby of Broadway” by Al Dubin and Harry Warren, very nifty and swingy; Rudy Friml and Herb Stothart’s 1924 “Indian Love Call”, a lot more lyrical and moving (he included the birds and the waterfall!) than you remember it (especially when leader Andrew Haveron takes the soulful melody); Jerry Kern and Yip Harburg’s glorious 1944 “Can’t Help Singing” (written for Deanna Durbin); Kern and Ira Gershwin’s 1944 “Long Ago and Far Away” (Howard McGill on tenor sax and Matthew Regan on piano—I’ve never heard it played any lovelier): Frank Loesser’s 1950 “Guys and Dolls” done in Big Swing style; then, in a weird leap, “Chim-Chim-Cheree” by the Sherman brothers 1963 (for which our John rips off Shostakovich’s Jazz Waltz no.2); and ending with “Hooray for Hollywood” from 1937 by Richard Whiting (who wrote “On the Good Ship Lollipop”) and Johnny Mercer.

Hooray for Hollywood,
Where you’re terrific if you’re even good
Where anyone at all from Shirley Temple to Aimee Semple
Is equally understood
Go out and try your luck, you might be Donald Duck
Hooray for Hollywood

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(Dates are of composition, not the date of the movie.)

Rating this clip, I’d say because it contains John’s own actually-pretty-good arrangement it’s one of the better clips of the JWO. Extra points for 7:40, where my self-satisfied darling shimmies like a brazen hussy yet again.

“Wanting You” by Sigmund Romberg and Oscar Hammerstein II from The New Moon, 1935

Another MGM musical, pre-Freed Unit. They were such a handsome couple and sang like angels, Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy. Who in their audience could have realized when watching such a mannered scene that they were in the middle of a chaotic on-again off-again love affair and that right after filming this number—that very night in fact when everyone had gone home—the two of them would be under that very tree having furious makeup sex?

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Thanks to fellow MacDonald-Eddy fan Sharon Rich (as related to her by Jeanette’s sister Blossom) for that lovely bit of info.