“Of castles on the Rhine, candlelight and wine . . .”

September 27, 2013

SHIRLEY ROSS and BOB HOPE sing "Thanks for the Memory" in "The Big Broadcast of 1938."

SHIRLEY ROSS and BOB HOPE sing “Thanks for the Memory” in “The Big Broadcast of 1938.”

Jack Benny occasionally played his theme song on the violin, but to my knowledge, he never sang it on the air, if at all. That makes Benny and “Love in Bloom,” the topics of my last post, unusual among performers and their signature songs. Perhaps the best example of the more typical approach is Bob Hope and “Thanks for the Memory.”

Hope’s theme, as it  happens, was written by the same artists who wrote “Love in Bloom.” Ralph Rainger composed the music, and Leo Robin provided the lyrics.

Memory - 2

Rainger and Robin wrote the song for The Big Broadcast of 1938, the last in a series of such musical films from Paramount. This plot for this one involved a trans-Atlantic race by two ocean liners. The ensemble included W.C. Fields, Hope and Ross, Martha Raye, Dorothy Lamour, Ben Blue, and Kirsten Flagstad.

Ross and Hope play a couple who are near the point of divorce. In “Thanks for the Memory,” they reminisce about the high and low points of their relationship — a relationship, incidentally, which survives after all. The song won an Academy Award.

Ross and Hope got to team up the following year and sing another song that became an American classic: “Two Sleepy People” by Frank Loesser and Hoagy Carmichael. That duet was in a film titled “Thanks for the Memory.”

Hope adopted “Thanks for the Memory” as his theme, and sang it at the end of his live and televised performances for the rest of his career, changing the lyrics to fit the situation. It was an interesting choice for a comedian, because its original meaning was melancholy, and even when Hope’s writers put humorous lines in it, the sad undercurrent was always there. That was particularly true when Hope sang “Thanks for  the Memory” at the end of the many shows he performed for American troops.

RALPH RAINGER

RALPH RAINGER

Ralph Rainger wrote scores for at least 40 movies. He would have written for many more, but he was killed in an air collision in 1942 when he was only 41 years old. The DC-3 he was traveling on collided with a U.S. Army Air Corps bomber over Palm Springs.

You can see and hear Bob Hope and Shirley Ross singing “Thanks for the Memory” in The Big Broadcast of 1938″ by clicking HERE.

Memory - 4

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2 Responses to ““Of castles on the Rhine, candlelight and wine . . .””

  1. shoreacres Says:

    I didn’t remember all the lyrics, so I looked them up, but the tune? Oh, yes. I remember it being comforting in its ubiquity – other things in life began to change, but Hope and his song never did.

    I started thinking about my perception of him as one of the nicest men in show biz. I went looking to see if there was a “dark side” I never was aware of. Apparently not. There’s been a raging discussion on his wiki page, but I certainly wouldn’t take that as proof of anything. Anyway, whatever he was “really” like, I miss him and his song.

    • charlespaolino Says:

      I never thought much about Bob Hope until I saw him perform live at the opening of what was then the Garden State Arts Center (now the PNC Center). His command of an audience was impressive, and there was something genuinely funny about him, not just his material, which I don’t think came over as well on television and film as it did in person.

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