The Music of Humoresque (Jean Negulesco dir, Warner Bros 1946): Lalo, Waxman, Wagner etc; Plus My Continuing Lust for BBC Conductor John Wilson, Part 1

There is so much to love in this Joan Crawford flick I hardly know where to begin. Firstly, it is my second-favorite Crawford movie (the first being Rain obviously, as I was in the 1980 version). Secondly, Oscar Levant. Oscar Levant! Novelist Nora Johnson’s object of teenage lust!

Thirdly, the B&W gorgeousness of the movie itself.


The entire film HUMORESQUE (1940) is available to watch here


Fourthly, the music!!! (See below.)

Screening Room, SF 1979Above: “City Montage” from Humoresque by Franz Waxman. John Musto, Russell Warner arrangers; Andrew Litton conducts the London Symphony Orchestra.

I’ll add links as we go along.

  • Antonín Dvorák / Humoresque, op 101 no 7 in G-flat major
  • Howard Dietz+Arthur Schwartz / I Guess I’ll Have To Change My Plan
  • Richard Rodgers+Lorenz Hart / My Heart Stood Still
  • Cole Porter / You Do Something to Me
  • Cole Porter / What Is This Thing Called Love?
  • James F. Hanley / Zing! Went The Strings Of My Heart
  • Al Dubin+Harry Warren / Don’t Say Good-Night
  • George+Ira Gershwin / Embraceable You
  • George Gershwin / Prelude II
  • George Gershwin / Prelude III
  • Frederic Chopin / Etude in G-flat major op 10 no 5
  • Frederic Chopin / Ballade No 4 in F minor op 52
  • Richard Wagner / Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde
  • Georges Bizet, Franz Waxman arr / Carmen Fantasie
  • Edouard Lalo / Symphonie espagnole in D minor op 21
  • Felix Mendelssohn / Violin Concerto in E minor op 64
  • Franz von Suppé / Poet and Peasant Overture
  • Pablo de Sarasate / Zigeunerweisen (Gypsy Airs) op 20
  • Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky / Violin Concerto in D major op 35
  • Henryk Wieniawski / Violin Concerto No 2 in D minor op 22
  • César Franck / Sonata for Violin and Piano in A major
  • Edvard Grieg / Piano Concerto in A minor op 16
  • Sergei Prokofiev / Piano Concerto No 3 in C major op 26
  • Dmitri Shostakovich / Polka from the ballet The Golden Age op 22
  • Johannes Brahms / Waltz in A-flat major op 39 no 15
  • Johann Sebastian Bach / Sonata No 1 in G minor BWV 1001
  • Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov / Flight of the Bumblebee

Find Part 2, the Lust part, at Medium here.



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“I’ve Got You Under My Skin” by Cole Porter from Born to Dance (Roy Del Ruth director, MGM 1936), Just for My Bonny Conductor, John Wilson

Because sometimes you just want to see a beautiful sad-eyed woman singing this song to yet another doofus in white tie and tails.

Here’s an American musical film starring Eleanor Powell and James Stewart, directed by Roy Del Ruth and released in 1936 by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The score, a smutty parody of HMS Pinafore, was composed by Cole Porter.

The plot is sublimely ridiculous: While on leave, sailor Ted Barker (played by James Stewart) meets Nora Paige (Eleanor Powell) at the Lonely Hearts Club, which is owned by Jenny Saks (Una Merkel), the wife of fellow sailor “Gunny” Saks (Sid Silvers), oy. Ted instantly falls in love with Nora. Ted later meets Broadway star Lucy James (Virginia Bruce) aboard a submarine while she’s on a publicity tour. Her damn dog falls overboard, Ted rescues it, and Lucy falls in love with him. Though Ted has already scheduled a date with Nora, he is ordered by his captain, Dingby (Raymond Walburn), to meet Lucy in a nightclub. Nora, who lives with Jenny and her 4 year-old daughter, Sally (Juanita Quigley), aspires to become a Broadway dancer. However, her newfound career is in serious jeopardy when she inadvertently comes between Lucy and her producer McKay (Alan Dinehart). Nora distances herself from Ted after seeing pictures of him and Lucy in a newspaper the next morning. Lucy pressures McKay to stop the press campaign, threatening to leave the Broadway production if any more photos or articles about her and Ted are published. Nora becomes Lucy’s understudy and re-considers her attitude towards Ted. But she’s suddenly fired after McKay tells her to perform a dance that Lucy considers undanceable. Ted, of course, to the rescue. That’s our Jimmy.

Besides Eleanor Powell and James Stewart, the cast also featured Virginia Bruce (here singing the above song), Una Merkel, Sid Silvers, Frances Langford (as a brunette), Raymond Walburn, Alan Dinehart, Buddy-freakin-Ebsen, little Juanita Quigley, Barnett Walker, and Reginald-double-freakin-Gardiner as the policeman who conducts “Easy to Love”.

But sometimes, as I say, you just want to see a beautiful sad-eyed woman singing this song to yet another doofus in white tie and tails.


The complete film BORN TO DANCE is available to watch here



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My Beloved John Wilson’s Concert Schedule 6 March Through 16 July 2022, Plus an Update on That E-album About an English Conductor

To those of you patiently awaiting the release of my text+audiolinks album JOHN WILSON AN ENGLISH CONDUCTOR: I’m taking the time to refine my observations about John’s artistic path. Anyone who knows me from A POET FROM HOLLYWOOD: LOVE, INSANITY, STEPHEN GYLLENHAAL, AND THE CREATIVE PROCESS knows this is my real bag.

Ah, there’s the man whose every gesture makes my heart beat faster.

Meanwhile, here’s his concert schedule—including his appearance with the Royal College—for the next few months (with links to music):

John’s schedule for 5 November 2021 to 18 February 2022 can be found on my posting here.

Sun 6 March 2022 20:00
Berliner Philharmonie
Berlin, Germany
DSO Berlin

___

Thu 17 March 2022 19:30
Royal College of Music
London, UK
Royal College of Music Symphony Orchestra

(Note: John ill, replaced by Martin Andre)

___

Fri 8 April 2022 19:00
Sheffield City Hall
Sheffield, United Kingdom
BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
Louis Lortie (piano)

___

Sat 9 April 2022 19:30
The Bridgewater Hall
Manchester, United Kingdom
BBC Philharmonic Orchestra

___

Thu 21 April 2022
The Bridgewater Hall
Manchester, United Kingdom
Halle Orchestra

___

Fri 20 May 2022 19:30
Usher Hall
Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Royal Scottish National Orchestra
Louis Schwizgebel (piano)

___

Fri 21 May 2022 19:30
Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
Glasgow, United Kingdom
Royal Scottish National Orchestra
Louis Schwizgebel (piano)

___

Sat 16 July 2022 18:30
Royal Albert Hall
London, United Kingdom
Sinfonia of London
Adam Walker (flute)



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John Wilson Conducts the Sinfonia of London + Royal Academy of Music Symphony Orchestra in Richard Strauss’s “Metamorphosen” and Gives Me a Perfect Screenshot, 23 October 2020

I don’t know what I did to please the gods but on this 2020 October morning, somehow, I took a perfect screenshot of John conducting, while watching the (UK time) 7:30pm performance of the Royal Academy of Music (Finzi, Strauss). “Metamorphosen” is from his new album on Chandos.

Screening Room, SF 1979Above my beloved John, who I’m pleased to have captured as crisply and revealingly as Robert Elswit with his pic of Jake and Stephen Gyllenhaal (Steve’s gift to me): Himself conducting the Sinfonia of London in Strauss’s “Metamorphosen” (Chandos, 2022).

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Mrs Maisel and Lenny Bruce

To all the randy fellow fans of The Marvelous Mrs Maisel (Amazon, 2017-2023): Are you ‘shipping this couple so bad like me? Here, by the way, are the two essentials for getting to know the real Lenny:

  • How to Talk Dirty and Influence People (full pdf, 1965) [https://bit.ly/lennybruce1]
  • Lenny Bruce at Carnegie Hall (full audio, February 1961) THE VERY CONCERT RECREATED IN SEASON 4 EPISODE 8 by the wonderful and deeply sexy Luke Kirby (whose portrayal, by the way, won the approval of Bruce’s daughter Kitty) [https://bit.ly/lennybruce2]
Screening Room, SF 1979Above Rachel Brosnahan playing struggling stand-up comic Midge Maisel and Luke Kirby portraying the once long ago very real Lenny Bruce: Real Lenny performing the actual concert at Carnegie Hall, 1961.

Find some of Lenny Bruce’s other gigs on my YouTube playlist here



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For Valentine’s Day, 2022: My Desired and Beloved John Wilson Conducts the Sinfonia of London in Maurice Ravel’s Bolero, 1928 (Chandos, 2022)

Imagine Ida Rubenstein, who commissioned this late work from the old man, dancing to it in private…not to her lover, but to the portrait of her lover, to which she can be just as revealing as she pleases…

I can be as revealing as I please, John (remember what I used to do for a living?). Happy Valentine’s Day, mi amor.

I see you like this, John, and I’m a puddle of goo. Above: My number one stroke song. In case you missed it, you mooks, that’s Bolero up there, Maurice Ravel’s 1928 one-movement orchestral piece, played by the Sinfonia of London and conducted by the man I love, John Wilson, for Chandos records, February 2022.

Additional texts in PDF:



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My Beloved John Wilson Conducts The John Wilson Orchestra in a Swingin’ Christmas on BBC2, Christmas Day 2010

With singers Anna-Jane Casey, Seth MacFarlane, and Curtis Stigers. Mike Lovatt solos on the trumpet. Plus brazen hussy shimmy alert. Whoever would stifle that shimmy in years to come, my bonny, would stifle your spirit.

Swinging Christmas, 2010Above: The full audio of the BBC’s Swingin’ Christmas With the John Wilson Orchestra, 2010. Big Band medley selections are listed below. Find the complete show on YT here.

For the Big Band medley: “Skyliner” – Barnet / Charlie Barnet; “Take the A Train” – Billy Strayhorn and vocalist Joya Sherrill / Duke Ellington; “Let’s Dance” – Gregory Stone (based on von Weber’s “Invitation to the Dance”, orchestrated by Hector Berlioz) / Benny Goodman; “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm” – Irving Berlin / Ray Noble; “Begin the Beguine” – Cole Porter / Artie Shaw; “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You” – Ned Washington and George Bassman / Tommy Dorsey; “Midnight Sun” – Hampton and Sonny Burke / Lionel Hampton; “You Made Me Love You” – Monaco and McCarthy / Harry James; “Moonlight Serenade” – Miller / Glenn Miller; “Peanut Vendor” – Moisés Simons / Stan Kenton; “Woodchoppers Ball” – Joe Bishop / Woody Herman; “One O’Clock Jump” – Count Basie / Count Basie.

This is the kind of music ID-ing I used to do when I was 18 and a night solfeggist at ASCAP, John.

Composer Andrew Cottee is the show’s orchestrator-arranger.


The entire 2010 BBC Swingin’ Christmas With the John Wilson Orchestra is available to view here



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Safewords in Sex Bondage Games; Plus My Beloved John Wilson Conducts the CBSO at Symphony Hall, Birmingham, 1 December 2021 in a Matinee of Rachmaninoff and Glazunov

Birmingham is lucky to have you, dear, even though this is the place where you made that cheerfully meathead remark about Leonard Bernstein‘s excellent wife Felicia (which bordered on anti-female and anti-semitic but hey, you got away with it with the Brummies)…

Anyroad. Here’s the current program for this 2:15pm concert, including that change from Korngold to Glazunov:

The Rachmaninoff is the one that gets my attention. My bonny claims a special affinity with this mighty Russian, as is noted somewhere in that red link above.

John in Glynebourne 3I’ve decided that our safeword, John, should be Ant-n-Dec. And don’t worry, because of/despite your movingly odd remarks about women (see my posting “Maria Ewing gives Richard Strauss’s Salome the Full Monty and Sings Bali Ha’i Exotically with the JWO, Just for My Beloved Conductor, John Wilson”) I still love you. Above: The “official” government (USSR) version, and a very good one, of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No 3 (1936).



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Cantara Christopher as Simona Wing in the Porn Classic, Beyond Your Wildest Dreams (1981, Gerard Damiano director), Just for the Man I Love, BBC Conductor John Wilson

From 2020. Yesterday, Thanksgiving, a fan (thanks, Brian!) sent me a screenshot from one of my later movies, Beyond Your Wildest Dreams.

I’m looking at you, John Wilson.

wildest-dreamsAbove Dream Girl #1: Carlos Santana’s hit “Oye como va” which I danced topless to in the 70s. I have no idea who painted that fakey arm on my left, or why. 


Lead in this feature was a fascinating woman named Juliet Anderson (here’s her interview in The Rialto Report), a classroom teacher who, in early middle age (39), started in porn and quickly became a star due to her talent in enthusiastic penilingism, plus she photographed well doing it. I was a little more delicate going about it but I think no less effective as an Oriental love doll. Fan Brian likens this pose to the one in “Cantara, 1973” except in 1973 I was 18 and this flick was shot 8 years later on a proper set.


A Great American Songbook Song for My Beloved John Wilson, Conductor: Rodgers+Hammerstein’s “Some Enchanted Evening” from South Pacific, Sung by Jane Olivor

I like to post short little items like this when I’m in the middle of big writing, which is where you find me now. This tune was tremendously popular in the jukeboxes of the Castro, circa late 1970s, before and after AIDS first hit. So ubiquitous was Jane Olivor’s rendition novelist Armistead Maupin couldn’t ignore it—this was the song that brought Michael “The Mouse” Tolliver to tears in the first volume of Tales of the City. Put this on and there isn’t a dry eye in the room, whether you’re thinking of a dead lover or a living one. I think of both.

Jane Olivor First NightAbove: “Some Enchanted Evening” written for the 1947 stage musical South Pacific, music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. A song has lyrics, John my love. This is how I speak to you.

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John Wilson and Orchestra at the Royal Albert and Holly Does Hollywood in Body Double, Written and Directed by Brian De Palma (Columbia, 1984)

The flick Holly Does Hollywood is fictional, of course, a fictional movie in the world of a real movie called Body Double, which was conceived and executed by the man who in an ideal world would be king of Hollywood, Brian De Palma.

De Palma’s affectionately knowing, utterly non-patronizing visit to pornland is a bit of a fantasy, of course. No flick I ever did or saw had a budget big enough to afford a mirror ball, let alone an MGM-sized dance floor (though Damiano’s later movies came close). But scale aside, De Palma understood the thing that kept nearly all of us, cast and crew, jazzed while we were being pushed to get out product, and that is: When you are making a porn movie, you are making a movie.

Now, every so often I’d remember this. I’d be in the middle of a take, and like a klieg wash switching on I’d suddenly become very aware of everything around me: the lights, the mikes, the crew, the director, the luxuriously gorgeous surroundings (half my films were done in those sumptuous private homes in Marin County), the smooth-skinned, sweet-smelling people touching me, the amused audience (most of the homeowners would hang around watching us film)—and the realization would thrill me so perceptibly I would be open to the moment and I’d like to think it showed up in my performance.

Which is the same jazzed-up open-to-the-momentness I thought I saw in John Wilson one evening when I was trawling online for classic show tunes and stumbled onto my bonny in a 2012 BBC-TV clip, commanding the podium in the middle of the Royal Albert, surrounded by an orchestra of eighty and an audience of 6,000, conducting a hot piece of Jule Styne and shimmying like a brazen hussy. And when I say shimmying like a brazen hussy, understand: I’m the brazen hussy he was shimmying like. I fell in love with him because I recognized him. I got his number. Or so it felt like…


Body Double 1984Above “Madeleine” (or is it???): Featured in De Palma’s “Vertigo” Tribute (and if you don’t get the cross-reference look up at the banner of my blog why don’t you), Body Double/Holly Does Hollywood, is the Liverpool group Frankie Goes to Hollywood, who made their initial splash in 1984 (dig it) with the best stroke song ever written, “Relax”. Of course it was banned by the BBC.


And so for over three years I’ve been following my Tyneside lad’s career and person, not as a fan, really, but as an…interested party. So you know I’m going to sit up and take notice like I did when John, conducting in 2019 possibly the last John Wilson Orchestra concert ever at the Royal Albert for the BBC Proms, looked deadly serious, almost toothache-grim, at first when he commanded the stage. Especially when you compare him to that cocky whippersnapper who took the podium back in 2011

I don’t mean to read a lot into this, maybe he did have a migraine or a toothache at the start. But I think more probably he’s thinking differently (that is, more “seriously”) about things nowadays. Eight years have passed between those two appearances, after all, and I’m sure he’s gone through scads of internal changes during that time and made some interesting decisions we’ll all find out about, sooner or later. It’d be sad if it’s John himself who thinks it’s now “unseemly” for him to shimmy in public anymore (I’m way not the only one to have noticed his gorgeous limey shimmy); but it would be a sadder thing if John’s taking the nudge-nudge hints and advice of others to heart.


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“If Ever I Would Leave You” from Camelot by Lerner & Loewe, Played by The John Wilson Orchestra and Conducted by John Wilson, BBC Proms 2019

I don’t think I’ve ever been more in love with John than now, watching him surrender to the exquisiteness of Alfred Newman’s Oscar-winning orchestral arrangement. From the 2019 BBC Proms, which can be seen in entirety here. So recent I can see the silver in my bonny lad’s hair.

John Wilson Tryptich 2


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Rita Moreno and Jack Nicholson in the Ultimate Penilingism Scene in Carnal Knowledge (Mike Nichols director, AVCO 1971, rated X) Just for an Old Boyfriend

After Kevin (whose family attended Mass at the same church in Wilmington as Joe Biden’s) took me to this Jules Feiffer-penned movie playing at a local Manhattan arthouse he had me re-enact it. We kind of looked like this. Oh, I got him there.

(sensual sitar music playing)

carnal-knowledge-jack-nicholson-rita-moreno-1971

Louise: I don’t think we’re going to have any trouble tonight.
Jonathan: You don’t?
Louise: No, I don’t.
Jonathan: Are you sure?
Louise: You wanna bet?
Jonathan: How much?
Louise: A hundred?
(he takes bill from pocket, gives to her; she puts it away)
Jonathan: You sound pretty sure.
Louise: You’re a kind of man…why shouldn’t I be sure?
Jonathan: What kind of man am I?
Louise: (slowly, seductively, kneeling between his legs) A real man. A kind man. I don’t mean weak kind the way so many men are. I mean the kindness that comes from an enormous strength… From an inner power so strong that every act, no matter what, is more proof of that power… That’s what all women resent. That’s why they try to cut you down. Because your knowledge of yourself and them is so right, so true, that it exposes the lie which they, every scheming one of them, live by. It takes a true woman to understand that the purest form of love is to love a man who denies himself to her. A man who inspires worship. Because he has no need for any woman. Because he has himself. And who is better, more beautiful, more powerful, more perfect… You’re getting hard. More strong, more masculine, more extraordinary, more robust… (smiling) It’s rising. More viral, dominating…more irresistible… (happy laugh) It’s up. In the air.


Carnal Knowledge (AVCO 1971, Mike Nichols director) is available here



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Four (and More) by Richard Rodgers: “Slaughter On Tenth Avenue”; “Can’t You Do a Friend a Favor?”; “Falling In Love With Love”; and “I Have Dreamed” All For My Beloved English Conductor, John Wilson

Another weekend doddle before we celebrate the Fourth (Yanks 1-Brits 0). (Updated October 2021)



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