Wednesday, August 30, 2017

George Sanders, Actor/Singer

Of the 14 Oscar nominations it got, one of the Oscars that it won went to George Sanders for Best Supporting Actor in the Best Picture of 1950.  The film is the famous ALL ABOUT EVE starring Bette Davis as Margo Channing, the aging and kind-hearted Broadway legend, Anne Baxter as Eve Harrington, the duplicitous and conniving young upstart out to replace Margo Channing as the new queen of Broadway and George Sanders as acerbic Addison DeWitt, the most influential and feared theatre critic in the New York City.
Eve Harrington can fool everyone else in the Broadway circle who befriended her, but she can't fool Addison DeWitt.
Addison will be present to see karma boomerang on that bitch the same night she receives a prestigious Broadway award.
 Here's a sample of Addison in action at a Margo Channing party.
George Sanders, like Vincent Price, was one of those actors who did a lot of good work in dramatic films during the 1940s but never got the chance to display his admirable singing chops.  Well, Sanders got the chance in the 1950s.  Opposite, of all people, Ethel Merman.

Merman had another Broadway hit with Irving Berlin's CALL ME MADAM.  20th Century Fox gave her the rare opportunity to repeat her successful Broadway role in the film version.  Ethel Merman was an overnight Broadway sensation when she made her debut in George Gershwin's 1930 show, GIRL CRAZY.  MGM turned it into a 1943 vehicle for Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland with Garland doing Merman's big number, "I Got Rhythm." For Paramount, Merman got to repeat her Reno Sweeney character from Cole Porter's 1934 Broadway hit, ANYTHING GOES, in the 1936 film version starring Bing Crosby and Ida Lupino.  Broadway's 1939 Cole Porter musical comedy DuBARRY WAS A LADY had Ethel Merman playing two parts.  In the MGM movie version, both parts went to Lucille Ball. Broadway's 1940 Cole Porter musical comedy, PANAMA HATTIE, starred "The Merm."  The movie role at MGM went to Ann Sothern.  Irving Berlin's ANNIE GET YOUR GUN was a huge hit for Merman.  That too was picked up by MGM for its queen of musicals, Judy Garland.  But the physically and emotionally drained 20-something MGM singer/actress was replaced during production with top Paramount musical star Betty Hutton in the 1950 release.

The Merm got to belt out the songs she introduced on Broadway in the 1953 Fox movie version.  George Sanders was her leading man in the musical comedy and did his own singing.  Here's George Sanders singing "Marrying for Love" on the CALL ME MADAM soundtrack:
In CALL ME MADAM, Ethel Merman played a very popular and charismatic Washington hostess who's appointed to be a U.S. Ambassador.  Sanders played the foreign minister of Lichtenburg.  Romance ensues.
CALL ME MADAM co-starred Donald O'Connor and Vera-Ellen.

About Vincent Price:  You can hear his excellent singing voice in the 1940 drama, THE HOUSE OF THE SEVEN GABLES.  He sings "The Color of Your Eyes."  But he never got to star in a movie musical and sing out like George Sanders did.  Darn it.  Here's Sanders doing another Broadway showtune -- "Some Enchanted Evening" from Rodgers & Hammerstein's SOUTH PACIFIC.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting post. "All About Eve" is one of my favorite films, and George Sanders was always an interesting actor. Plus, he was Shere Khan in "The Jungle Book"! Thanks for posting the clips, too.


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