Monday, February 11, 2008

It's Frankie! (Or Is It?)

A few months ago I wondered what was the first movie to license a musical recording. I thought it might be the recording of Rudy Vallee in Margie (1946). (Though I'm still not sure if they used a real '20s recording of Vallee or just had Vallee re-record the song. But still, it was an attempt to at least sound like they were playing a real '20s recording by a real recording artist of the era.)

But then I saw the goofy 1945 Arabian-nights parody movie A Thousand and One Nights -- a very silly but fun movie with Cornel Wilde as Aladdin, Phil Silvers as his sidekick, and Evelyn Keyes pre-dating Barbara Eden as a magic genie with a crush on her master. The movie, which is full of deliberately anachronistic references, ends with Keyes doing Silvers a favor by turning him into Frank Sinatra, singing "All Or Nothing At All" for a harem of bobby-soxers. (Yes, everybody did this gag in the '40s, even live-action films.) I don't have Sinatra's own recording of "All Or Nothing At All," his first big hit, so my questions are:

1) Is that Sinatra singing, or an imitator?
2) If it is Sinatra, is that his actual recording of "All or Nothing At All," or is it a re-recording?

Update: Via comments, the answer is # 2, a Sinatra re-recording made at Silvers' request.


Anonymous said...

Read Mark Evanier's post on this film from last year.
If a whole page comes up, scroll down to the headline "Set the TIVO"

Anonymous said...

It's Sinatra, all right. Phil Silvers, who actually conceived the gag and persuaded Sinatra to go along with it, talked about it in his autobiography. Silvers was close to the singer; he not only accompanied Sinatra on his extensive overseas USO tour, but helped assemble the act for him along with Saul Chaplin. I believe Silvers mentioned that the version was recorded especially for the film. The comic needled Harry Cohn that he'd come up with a great tag for the movie and hadn't received a penny for his trouble. The Columbia head's immediate response was characteristically unprintable, but Silvers was stunned a few days later when a costly baby grand was delivered to his home, courtesy of the studio. Silvers was amused that Cohn never bothered to compensate Sinatra, though.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, the entire link didn't show uo...html#012893 should be at the end.
Or... just go to Mark's site at and do a search for Phil Silvers. Look for "Set the Tivo".

I saw this movie with a packed house at a 35mm screening in Columbus, Ohio a few years ago. The crowd loved it...particularly the ending.

Anonymous said...

Mark Evanier has it right. [I couldn't quite recall the details; I couldn't find my copy of Silvers' book.]