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Higher and Higher

Higher and Higher(1943)

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The film's opening credits bill the Hartmans together as Paul and Grace Hartman. According to a pre-production news item in Hollywood Reporter, RKO purchased the rights to the Gladys Hurlbut-Joshua Logan play for $15,000. The Motion Picture Herald Prod Digest review notes that Hurlbut and Logan's book was reworked to feature immensely popular singing star Frank Sinatra and that all but one song from the Richard Rodgers-Lorenz Hart score was eliminated. To replace the original score, songwriters Harold Adamson and Jimmy McHugh wrote four songs especially tailored to Sinatra's vocal style, according to a Hollywood Reporter news item. The songs "I Couldn't Sleep a Wink Last Night" and "A Lovely Way to Spend an Evening" were big Sinatra hits and "I Couldn't Sleep a Wink Last Night" was nominated for an Academy Award. The score of this picture was also nominated for an Academy Award.
       This film was Sinatra's first starring vehicle and inaugurated his seven-year contract with RKO, under which he was obligated to appear in two pictures per year for the studio. Sinatra made only one additional contract film at RKO, Step Lively (see below), before going under contract to M-G-M. Although Higher and Higher was designed as a Sinatra vehicle, previous contractual obligations forced the studio to give Michele Morgan and Jack Haley billing over Sinatra, according to a New York Times news item. Haley also appeared in the Broadway play. The picture marked singer Mel Torm's screen debut. Other pre-production news items in Hollywood Reporter note that Constance Moore was originally slated to play the role of "Catherine" and add Joan Davis to the cast. Davis does not appear in the released version of the film. Modern sources credit Roy Webb with score and Maurice de Packh with orchestrations. After the picture was released, songwriters Jack Trizio and Chuck Bennett sued the studio and McHugh and Adamson, alleging that the song "The Music Stopped" was plagiarized from their composition "You're Mine to Love." The outcome of that suit is not known.