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TCM Spotlight: Mad About Musicals
Remind Me

Going Hollywood

"There's something about Miss Bruce. She doesn't seem to like teaching. She seems to go about in a dream." And in that dream Miss Bruce (Marion Davies) is Going Hollywood. Teamed with Bing Crosby, borrowed at her request from Paramount, Davies shines in this backstage tale that blurs the lines between reality and fantasy.

In the beginning of Going Hollywood, reality is a stark teachers' meeting in a practically bare room. Upstairs Davies is dancing her heart out in her stylish bedroom. In this room, with satin pillowcases, candelabras on the walls and French doors leading out to a balcony, Miss Bruce's dream is accompanied by a tune on the radio.

Hearing Bill Williams' (Bing Crosby) voice, Miss Bruce immediately falls in love with him and follows him to California. This star-struck crush is remarkably similar in spirit to Davies' own romance with publishing tycoon William Randolph Hearst. Upon seeing Davies perform for the first time, Hearst reserved two seats (one for himself, the other for his hat) for each of her shows over the next eight weeks. Hearst would eventually become producer, lover and the most famous personal fan of Davies. As with most of Marion's productions, Hearst was in regular attendance on the set of Going Hollywood, which made Bing Crosby quite nervous during romantic scenes.

Crosby's voice, however, never falters. He is at his absolute best in numbers like "Beautiful Girl" and the title number, which is set in Grand Central Station. In a memorable Oz meets Oklahoma dream sequence, Davies and Crosby parade through cellophane sunflowers to "We'll Make Hay While the Sun Shines." The finale is also a showstopper, with a deco backdrop that becomes a towering orchestra pit and Davies and Crosby's reunion to "Our Big Love Scene."

In the movie, Miss Bruce gets her man and becomes a star. In real life, Marion Davies and William Randolph Hearst remained together until his death in 1951, but they never married. And her career never reached the pinnacle Hearst hoped it would. Davies made just five more films after Going Hollywood.

Director: Raoul Walsh
Producer: Walter Wanger
Screenplay: Donald Ogden Stewart (based on a story by Frances Marion)
Cinematography: George J. Folsey
Editing: Frank Sullivan
Music: Nacio Herb Brown, Arthur Freed
Art Direction: Merrill Pye
Set Decoration: Edwin B. Willis
Costume Design: Adrian
Cast: Marion Davies (Sylvia Bruce), Bing Crosby (Bill Williams), Fifi D'Orsay (Lili Yvonne), Stuart Erwin (Ernest P. Baker), Ned Sparks (Conroy), Patsy Kelly (Jill).
BW-78m. Closed Captioning.

by Stephanie Thames



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