The memorable songs of legendary songwriter Frank Loesser will take center stage as Turner Classic Movies (TCM) celebrates the 100th anniversary of his birth with an evening of musical delights Tuesday, June 19, beginning at 8 p.m. (ET). The schedule includes the hits How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (1967), Neptune’s Daughter (1949) and Red, Hot and Blue (1949). Also featured is the TCM premiere of the insightful 2006 documentary Heart & Soul: The Life and Music of Frank Loesser.
Frank Loesser was a tough-talking, often-tempestuous composer who at the same time could display a tremendously tender heart. His Broadway shows include Guys and Dolls and The Most Happy Fella, as well as the long-running How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. His songbook features such memorable standards as “On a Slow Boat to China,” “Heart & Soul,” “I Don’t Want to Walk Without You,” “Praise the Lord and Pass the Amunition,” “Inchworm,” “Two Sleepy People,” “Spring Will be a Little Late This Year,” “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?” and “See What the Boys in the Back Room Will Have.”
The New York-born Loesser moved to Hollywood and signed with Universal Pictures in 1936, later working with Paramount Pictures. During World War II, he served in the Air Force. Following the war, he returned to New York to work on the musical Where’s Charley?, an adaptation of the classic play Charley’s Aunt. He continued to work on Broadway shows over the next two decades, earning four Tony Awards. He also continued working in film, winning the Academy Award for Best Original Song for “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” from Neptune’s Daughter. Loesser died of lung cancer in 1969.
The following is a complete rundown of TCM’s celebration of the 100th anniversary Frank Loesser’s birth. (All times Eastern.)
Tuesday, June 29
8 p.m. How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (1967) – This hilarious satire of the corporate world follows a young man who makes a meteoric rise from the mailroom to the top floor. Robert Morse reprises his Tony-winning performance, with Michelle Lee as the secretary who falls for him and Rudy Vallee as the company president. Bob Fosse provided the inventive choreography, while Loesser’s Tony-winning song score includes “Brotherhood of Man” and “I Believe in You.”
10:15 p.m. Heart & Soul: The Life and Music of Frank Loesser (2006) – This fascinating documentary profile, making its TCM premiere, follows the life and career of composer/lyricist Frank Loesser, as told by his contemporaries, family members and admirers.
Midnight Neptune’s Daughter (1949) – This bubbly musical features Esther Williams as a bathing suit designer who falls for a South American polo star, played by Ricardo Montalban. Meanwhile, Betty Garrett is her ditzy younger sister who mistakes a masseuse, played by Red Skelton, for the same polo star. Keenan Wynn and Mel Blanc co-star. Musical numbers abound, including a climactic aquatic sequence with Williams. The song “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” won Loesser an Oscar®.
1:45 a.m. Red, Hot and Blue (1949) – In this wild backstage musical, an actress runs into trouble when the gangster backing her latest show winds up dead in her apartment. The all-star cast features Betty Hutton, Victor Mature, William Demarest and June Havoc, with Loesser himself playing the role of Hair-do Lempke. Hutton performs Loesser’s “That’s Loyalty,” “I Wake Up in the Morning Feeling Fine,” “Hamlet” and “Now that I Need You.”
3:15 a.m. Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943) – Hollywood’s biggest talents come together for a special wartime charity show threatened by an egotistical star. Eddie Cantor, Dennis Morgan and Joan Leslie are joined by such guest stars as Humphrey Bogart, Olivia de Havilland, Errol Flynn, John Garfield, Ida Lupino and Ann Sheridan, as well as Bette Davis singing Loesser’s Oscar-nominated song “They’re Either Too Young or Too Old.”
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