|Say One For Me|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Frank Tashlin|
|Produced by||Frank Tashlin|
|Written by||Robert O'Brien|
|Music by||Alexander Courage|
|Edited by||Hugh S. Fowler|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|October 11, 1959|
|Box office||$3.9 million (est. US/ Canada rentals)|
Say One For Me is a 1959 musical film directed by Frank Tashlin and starring Bing Crosby and Debbie Reynolds.Say One for Me was listed in the 1978 book The Fifty Worst Films of All Time. Actress Stella Stevens made her film debut in Say One for Me and received the Golden Globe Award in 1960 for New Star of the Year-Actress for this film.
In the middle of New York's theater district sits Father Conroy's parish, where entertainers often attend his services. His parishioners include Holly LeMaise, whose dad Harry was an old vaudevillian. Holly takes a job as a showgirl in a nightclub to pay the medical bills when her father falls ill. The featured entertainer at the club is Tony Vincent, a playboy whose romantic advances Holly wards off. But soon she develops feelings for him.
Father Conroy befriends the former songwriter Phil Stanley, whose alcoholism and hard times have left him playing piano in Tony's act. The priest annoys Tony by seemingly interfering with Holly's personal life and now Phil's as well. Tony lands a job at a Miami hotel and tries to manipulate Holly into going along.
As a charity event, Father Conroy organizes a big show that will be on nationwide TV. Tony, having lost the Miami job, desperately wants to perform on it. To prove his true intent to Holly, the priest offers to book Tony on television provided he tells Holly their relationship is over. Holly is shocked when he accepts.
When it's his turn to sing, Tony's guilty conscience gives him a change of heart. He gives up his time on the TV show to Phil, who has written a new song. Father Conroy is pleased, and soon finds himself officiating at Holly's and Tony's wedding.
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Filmed in CinemaScope between December 1958 and February 1959, the film had several "premiere" performances in June 1959. On June 18, 1959, Say One for Me had its premiere at Buffalo, New York. The event formed part of fund raising activities for Buffalo Boy's Town run by Father Kelliher. There was also a gala benefit premier at the Pantages Theatre (Hollywood) on Hollywood Boulevard on the same day with the proceeds going to the Daniel Freeman Hospital, Inglewood and the Jesuit Scholasticata.
In addition on June 20, the Fox Theater in El Centro, Southern California, showed the film and personal appearances were made by Bing Crosby, Robert Wagner, Natalie Wood, and Ricardo Montalbán. This was part of a benefit for Our Lady of Guadalupe Church and parish in El Centro, organized by Father Victor Salandini, and $7000 was raised. On June 28, 1959, a 30th anniversary celebration took place at the Fox Theater in San Francisco (opened June 28, 1929) with a special advance screening of Say One for Me.
Variety was not impressed. "Basic idea in Robert O'Brien's story probably had potentialities. It's a "Going My Way" sort of affair with Bing Crosby again as a priest with his target shifted from juvenile roughnecks to show business delinquents. But something went wrong in the development; the entertainment values are short of impressive and the boxoffice will have to depend on Crosby and Debbie Reynolds as the marquee names...Crosby turns in a curiously inhibited performance. He plays the role tight, not at all like the free-wheeling, leisurely-paced Crosby of yore, but the voice is still there..."
Bosley Crowther of The New York Times had some kind words."...It is a pleasant show-world entertainment, this obvious "Say One for Me," full of pretty girls with shapely legs, a few song numbers (two sung by Bing) and religious images. Robert O'Brien has contributed a screen play that is loaded with slang. Broadway gags that are easily comprehended and not too much clerical sentiment....As for Bing--well, he's just about as usual, a little less lively, perhaps, a little older looking, but still casual and sincere. He'll never make Monsignor. He'll always be a parish priest, whenever he turns his collar backward, because you always sense a sport shirt underneath."
The Hollywood Citizen News review was direct in its appraisal. "A pleasant, if sometimes monotonous, photodrama with music . . . For visual appeal, this new 20th. Century-Fox film, in color and CinemaScope, is a world-beater. . . A handsome production from start to finish, it misses only in the departments of story, direction and acting, three important categories, nonetheless."
The film was a surprise success doing good business everywhere it opened.
All the songs were written by Jimmy Van Heusen (music) and Sammy Cahn (lyrics). Lionel Newman conducted the musical backing for the film and he was nominated for an Oscar for "Best Scoring of a Musical Picture" but was unsuccessful.