Swing High, Swing Low (March 12, 1937)
Released on March 12, 1937: (running time 1 hour and 37 minutes) Carole Lombard fights to get her man back from Dorothy Lamour.
Directed by Mitchell Leisen
Written by Oscar Hammerstein II, George Manker Watters, Arthur Hopkins, Virginia Van Upp, Walter DeLeon and Francis Martin
The Actors: Carole Lombard (Marguerite 'Maggie' King), Fred MacMurray (Skid Johnson), Charles Butterworth (Harry), Dorothy Lamour (Anita Alvarez, saloon singer), Jean Dixon (Ella), Harvey Stephens (Harvey Howell, wealthy cattle rancher), Cecil Cunningham (Murphy, bar owner), Charles Arnt (Georgie Herman), Franklin Pangborn (Henri, ship's beauty parlor owner), Anthony Quinn (The Don), Charles Judels (Tony Morelli), Martha Arcos (girl), William Arnold (croupier), Eumenio Blanco (court interpreter), Lee Bowman (El Greco nightclub patron), Spencer Chan (cook), James Conaty (customer at Butch's), Lee Cooley (radio announcer), Gino Corrado (Tony's Italian friend), Jack Daley (dock Policeman), Leyland Hodgson (gambler), Esther Howard (beauty salon customer), Arthur Stuart Hull (booking agent), George W. Jimenez (Justice of the Peace), Darby Jones (black Santa Claus), Donald Kerr (radio technician), Richard Kipling (Army surgeon), Nicholas Kobliansky (gambler), Nick Lukats (man in nightclub), Jerry Mandy (interpreter), Chris-Pin Martin (sleepy servant), Frances Morris (cloakroom attendant), Al Morro (bouncer), Louis Natheaux (gambler), Paul Newlan (Army Lieutenant), Dennis O'Keefe (purser), Ralph Remley (Musselwhite), Cyril Ring (visitor leaving ship), Enrique de Rosas (the judge), Oscar Rudolph (elevator boy), Harry Semels (Chief of Police), George Sorel (manager of the El Greco nightclub), Charles Stevens (Panamanian at cockfight), Frank Whitson (gambler), William Wright (attendant)
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The Dizzy Blonde and the Trumpet Player
This movie is widely regarded as the first substantial role for actor Fred MacMurray. He had been appearing regularly in movies, but never in a part that stretched his abilities like this one would. His female love interest for the movie was scheduled to be actress Sylvia Sidney, but Carole Lombard, fresh off her career-changing role as a romantic, dizzy, flirty blonde in My Man Godfrey, was chosen instead.
Fred MacMurray is Skid Johnson, a soldier guarding the Panama Canal, and Carole Lombard is a dizzy hair stylist on a cruise ship passing through the Panama Canal. While the ship is in port for a day she and the trumpet playing soldier pass the time together, and her ship leaves without her. The flirty blonde decides to move in with Skid and his piano playing friend.
During filming, Fred MacMurray only pretended to play the trumpet, with two talented trumpet players doing the actual songs. Carole Lombard sings a love song in the story, and she also wanted a trained singer to dub her voice, but director Mitchell Leisen convinced her that her voice was so unique and memorable now that she must sing the song herself. She did, and audiences loved it.
In the script, Fred MacMurray was supposed to say the line, “I love you, will you marry me?” but Fred had never been at ease in romantic love scenes. He quickly decided that his character would never propose in such a straight-forward manner. Director Leisen told Fred he could make up his own line, and when Fred MacMurray got on stage to practice the scene, the director told Carole to go along with anything that he said.
Director Leisen secretly motioned to the cameraman to film the rehearsal, and at the proper time Fred MacMurray nervously blurted out, “Gee, I’m kinda sick to my stomach, but will you marry me?” This rehearsal scene made it into the final film just as it was.
This movie was one of Paramount’s biggest hits that year in theaters, but it almost became a ‘lost’ treasure. Eleven years later Twentieth Century Fox wanted to do this same story, so they sought out and purchased every copy of this movie, . . . except one. Director Mitchell Leisen had a copy that he released later, and this copy is a descendant of his personal copy.
Now, as Carole Lombard would sing: “When you blow that horn you thrill me, To the marrow of my bones you chill me.” Pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn with plenty of warm melted butter drizzled over it and enjoy the show.
Carole Lombard, Anthony Quinn
Carole Lombard, Fred MacMurray
Carole Lombard, Jean Dixon
Charles Butterworth, Jean Dixon
Franklin Pangborn, Carole Lombard
Fred MacMurray, Carole Lombard
Fred MacMurray, Dorothy Lamour
Fred MacMurray, Harvey Stephens
Harvey Stephens, Carole Lombard
Jean Dixon, Charles Butterworth
Jean Dixon, Franklin Pangborn