Bing Crosby and W.C. Fields were paired in this uneven musical comedy. The folks at Paramount were unhappy with the rushes that featured Lanny Ross in the role that Crosby took over--that of Tom Grayson, a Philadelphian who is engaged to Elvira (Gail Patrick), the eldest daughter of the
Rumfords, paragons of southern gentility. But when Tom, a confirmed pacifist, refuses to duel with one of Elvira's other suitors (John Miljan), the "cowardly" Yankee is sent packing by Gen. Rumford (Claude Gillingwater), with the approval of the disgraced Elvira. Her younger sister, Lucy (Joan
Bennett), is much more sympathetic, but too young for Tom to take with him when he takes a job as a singer on the Mississippi riverboat skippered by Commodore Orlando Jackson (Fields). After Capt. Blackie (Fred Kohler) is killed accidentally in a brawl with Tom, Jackson convinces the crooner to
bill himself as "the Singing Killer," and soon his reputation reaches Lucy, who can't allow herself to love a murderer. Using his new image to make his way to Lucy, Tom shows his true colors before the final reel unspools, winning back Lucy's heart. Crosby's performance was hailed by some and
slighted by others, but Fields is so wonderful that, after the preview showing, Der Bingle insisted that MISSISSIPPI be reedited with new scenes added that would shift the focus back on him. Nonetheless, Fields steals scene after scene and particularly shines in a card-playing sequence in which he
deals himself five aces, then notices his opponents looking on like vultures around a carcass. Three tunes became hits: "Down by the River," "Soon," and "Easy to Remember but So Hard to Forget" (Richard Rogers, Lorenz Hart, sung by Bing Crosby). The single song by Stephen Foster, "Swanee River"
(sung by Crosby), already had been a hit.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: Bing Crosby and W.C. Fields were paired in this uneven musical comedy. The folks at Paramount were unhappy with the rushes that featured Lanny Ross in the role that Crosby took over--that of Tom Grayson, a Philadelphian who is engaged to Elvira (Gail Patri… (more)