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Christine Photo

~ Christine Sings ~

page last updated:  12/14/2003 (updated information, further down the page, on the song Christine sings in the Billy Gilbert short SWING FEVER)

[To folks visiting this page who are not used to downloading .WAV files: during the first download, with some players (in particular the Windows Media Player) it will sound like a song is playing sporadically and jerkily...just be patient. When the download marker gets all the way to the end (you can turn down your volume till then), just click on "Play" and hear the song unbroken all the way through. It will play pretty smoothly after that! (And if your media player doesn't open up right away, and you encounter a blank browser page when you click on the Download link, it apparently means that you are "in line" behind another visitor waiting to download that song; just choose another song to download and come back to that one later.) To those of you who have visited this page before, I have recently upgraded the two original .WAV files below (Hill Top Rendezvous and Jo Jo From Mexico) in addition to adding some further selections. Though these are "radio quality" and not "CD quality" yet, they are still huge files (well worth the download time to Christine fans) and a huge improvement over the "telegraph quality" of the old ones. I will continue to upgrade this page as my personal technology improves...as it is, I can't believe my old 56K modem cajoled my phone line into uploading these giant files onto the internet.]

A nearly forgotten manifestation of entertainment technology is the Panoram Movie Juke Box of the early 1940's. Though it didn't last long, it was once featured in various public places, taking the concept of the juke box one step further. Instead of being able to deposit money in a device to merely hear a recorded song, you could now donate your hard-earned coin and see a short musical movie, or interlude, played on a small projection screen (these Movie Juke Boxes still show up from time to time in auctions and auction sites like eBay, and are interesting conversation-pieces -- but this isn't "Antiques Road Show" and I digress). Christine (along with fellow-soprano Armanda Chirot [Click this link to learn more about Ms. Chirot]) was featured in the very first of these interludes produced by Castle Films in 1941 (after the collapse of the Movie Juke Box idea, these films were packaged and "sold separately" to the public in 1946). The two women sing a duet version of Strauss' famous Blue Danube Waltz (think "spinning space station" from 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY). Here is what was seen by whomever plunked a nickel into the ole Panoram: as the opening strains of the waltz are heard, we see conductor Frederick Feher conducting a huge symphony orchestra. Behind the orchestra is a raised stage with pillar-like flats for scenery. Suddenly, the stage erupts with women from behind these flats. Not only do Christine and Armanda enter singing and wearing long gowns and bonnets right off of a 19th Century painting, but they are joined by a bevy of lady dancers dressed in what could be described as Grecian-urn style prom dresses. As the two coloratura sopranos sing, the dancers spin and make spirals holding out their scarf-like diaphanous dresses. Visually, from a modern perspective, the effect may be a little bizarre to the innocent bystander. But thank goodness this movie exists because, musically, it means the preservation of a treasure. Here, though Christine is now quite famous for her high range, the top part in this duet is sung by Ms. Chirot, with Christine taking the low notes (but when I say "low" in this context, it is only relatively speaking...it is a coloratura duet, after all). While listening, it should be easy to pick out Christine's voice from Armanda's. But if you are having trouble, just to help your ear, here are three places to listen for Chris: A) 55 seconds in she is singing the words "the wind" as Armanda trills above; B) 1 minute, 12 seconds in, Christine comes on strong with the syllables "ah-AH-ah, ah-AH-ah, AH-AH"; and C) 3 minutes, 17 seconds in Chris is heard singing the words, "Danube so blue..." -- the whole effect is quite thrilling. (A huge thank you to Terry King, a friend of this site... Terry took on the time, trouble, and expense of having his copy of this 16mm film transferred to video.) The following .wav file is a total of 3 mins. 41.5 seconds long, and if you are working with a 56K modem it can be a 19 or 20 minute download, depending on conditions -- so take a stroll, pop some corn, and check back later -- if you are a fan of Christine's voice, you won't be disappointed:


Christine had a small featured role in the 1939 Blondie movie BLONDIE TAKES A VACATION. In the scene where Baby Dumpling lets a couple skunks loose in the ventilation system of a competing resort, Chris is the poor resort singer trying to perform Love in Bloom for a room full of guests. She suddenly becomes aware of the complete effect of the skunks and you can hear her voice dip on the word "bloom" (that's not an imperfection in the WAV file). The guests quickly clear out. The male voice you hear is that of the owner of this besieged resort:


In the 1942 western DAWN ON THE GREAT DIVIDE, Christine and Robert Lowery sing a duet version of Beautiful Dreamer next to a hauntingly serene moonlit lake. This was the final film Buck Jones ever made, and he can be heard in dialogue -- with partners Rex Bell & Raymond Hatton -- over the final instrumentals. But this is Christine's special little moment in the movie, and she makes the most of it:


SWING FEVER (1937) was the unusual little RKO short which marked Christine's screen debut. Veteran film comedian Billy Gilbert starred as "Dr. Van Loon" (interestingly, the only character in the two-reeler who was given an actual name by the screenwriter) who runs Van Loon's Melody Clinic, a fully staffed sanitarium, of sorts, which treats people with various musical ailments. In the case of Jack Norton (often cast as a "tippler" in films --though he appears sober in this part), he simply doesn't like music...which is the reason his girlfriend, Christine, has broken up with him. Upon checking into the clinic, Billy puts Jack through a battery of strange musical tests. Finally, the doctor decides the poor man's only salvation is to get a dose of "Opus 42, Suite 16" -- which turns out to be administered, in the form of song, by Chris, one of the nurses. The lyrics begin: "Where is the loved one I'm longing to see..." -- and they are sung to a melody that I myself, anyhow, am only familiar with from an episode of "The Andy Griffith Show" (do you remember the one where Barney is the only bad singer in the church choir, and they fool him into thinking he is singing into a super-sensitive microphone, which turns out to be disconnected -- well the song the choir is singing goes "Welcome, Sweet Springtime, we greet thee in song..." -- that's the tune Chris is singing here and if this melody is recognized by anyone out there as having come from an older source, like a classical piece of instrumental music, then I would appreciate hearing from you
[UPDATE 12/14/2002: Larry Kozak, a friend of this site, writes: "This song was written by Artur Rubinstein. The original title of the song is 'Melody in F'" -- thanks, Larry!][UPDATE 12/14/2003: Exactly one year later, we have yet another update to this blurb, this time from another friend of this site, Professor Evona York, who writes: "...the composer of "Melody in F"... wasn't Artur Rubinstein, the pianist, who wrote it, but Anton Rubenstein, an earlier composer" -- and thanks to you, Evona!]). By the way, Chris turns out to be (with a logic that can only be so charmingly applied in the world of these old comedy shorts) the estranged girlfriend of Jack! When her intitial song, which was performed with serenity, does not quite complete the cure, one of the doctors (an unidentified player) suggests, "How about a swing transfusion?" Dr. Van Loon (Billy) agrees and shouts, "Give!" And Christine does. She launches into a very jazzed-up version of the original music...and she closes out the film with it. The cure takes! Jack, realizing it is his true love who has been singing (and who has cured him of his lack of liking music) plants a big kiss on Christine before she can barely get out her final note. To see it is to love it. And Christine, only 26 at the time of this screen debut, really sings her heart out... to hear it is almost just as good:

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD Where Is the Loved One I'm Longing to See?

Here's Christine singing I'll Take Romance to Shemp Howard (who can be heard cavorting about during the song) in 1944's OPEN SEASON FOR SAPS. By the way, I'll Take Romance also happens to be the same song that Chris is humming as she enters with her ill-fated cake in the Columbia short ALL GUMMED UP (1947)...as well as its 1953 remake, some years later, BUBBLE TROUBLE:


Here are three songs from the B Western THE RANGERS' ROUNDUP (1938), the first film featuring Christine in a leading lady capacity (as the heroine "Mary"). She plays a cafe/cantina waitress by day, who dons cowgirl duds at night and rides about the countryside trying to save her brother from a life of crime. Along the way, she encounters the movie's hero, Fred Scott (playing "Tex Duncan"). She is wary of Fred's attentions at first, but comes to rely on him and -- well, I don't want to spoil the ending. It is a great little film for Christine fans, part of a handful of Fred Scott westerns produced by comedian Stan Laurel. There are plenty of horseback scenes, and it is fun that the camera gets in close enough on several occasions so we can see Chris indeed doing at least some of her own riding. Near the finale there is quite an exciting sequence where she rides off to Fred's rescue.

The first song below, Jo Jo From Mexico, is sung by Christine for the entertainment of the cafe patrons, and is done in a '30's swing style (the fellow singing "La la la la LA... la-la-la-la" in between verses is the person who wrote the song, Lew Porter; Lew, a movie composer known for his western work, created all the bright little tunes for the film and also played Chris' accompanyist in the cafe)(the crash heard during the song is a vase breaking over co-star Al "Fuzzy" St. John's head, as he cavorts about in the background -- "Stan & Ollie" fashion; the footsteps heard are Fred Scott's as he approaches the cafe and hears that lilting voice for the first time). The second song, Hill Top Rendezvous (a love ballad), is mostly a solo by Fred Scott, who was often billed as "The Silvery-Voiced Baritone" or "...Buckaroo" in these films. As Tex, he sings Hill Top... a couple minutes after we hear Jo Jo... and it is his way of wooing the independant Mary. As Mary, Chris is won over during the course of his crooning, and, about halfway through the song, she joins in with a soprano's descant (which means that she may have been asked, during production, to ad-lib her own part, making into a duet what was originally intended as a solo for the film's star). The third selection is a double-reprise of Just a Spanish Shawl (a song sung by Fred early in the film when he is working undercover at a medicine show) and Hill Top..., sung here now as a full duet between Chris and Fred. They sing ...Shawl as they ride off into the sunset side by side on their respective horses, and we hear this version of Hill Top... over the final credits:



CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD Just a Spanish Shawl/Hill Top Rendezvous reprise/finale

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