Heart and Soul and Frank
Back in 2006, the Turner Classic Movies channel produced a documentary about Frank Loesser, titled Heart & Soul. I don't recall if I wasn't aware of it until a few days after it was on, or if I knew but missed the airing, figuring I'd catch up with the the next time. In any event, I didn't see it – and to my continued surprised, as far as I can tell they didn’t repeat it. At most, they repeated it once that same day or the next, and I missed that. But I'm pretty certain that that's been it, because I’ve been checking ever since, to see if they’d have it on their schedule, or if it would show up on Netflix. And it never has.
On Friday, I had a brain storm to do a search for it online, in general, just to see if there was any information about it where it might be tracked down. (I don't know why I didn't have this belated brain storm until Friday, but my best excuse is that I felt certain that TCM would indeed air it again -- I could see no reason why they wouldn't -- or sure it would eventually be available on Netflix, so there was no need to check elsewhere. Except that after a decade, it finally became clear that there now, at least, was a need.) Well, to my amazement, I not only found some very good information about it (for one thing, I found out the full name of it, Heart & Soul: The Life and Music of Frank Loesser), but there was a website that has the full documentary embedded for viewing online! So, that night, I finally got to watch it.
It's quite enjoyable – not great, but done well enough, with of course great material. It's largely on positive, though not a puff piece since at least, to its credit, it touches on his dark side, which I'd heard reports of, a pretty explosive temper. Mainly, it celebrates some really wonderful songs, from his early days writing the lyrics only in Hollywood through his Broadway year with both words and music.
Among his movie songs, for which he only wrote the lyrics are such classics as "I Don't Want to Walk Without You, Baby" and the number Marlene Dietrich made famous, "The Boys in the Backroom," that Mel Brooks parodied with Madeline Kahn in Blazing Saddles.
If you never saw the documentary (which is probably highly likely), or want to see it again, unfortunately I can't embed it, but happily you can watch it all here.
One thing I'll add is that I was always a bit surprised by the title of the documentary, since the song "Heart and Soul" was written by Hoagy Carmichael. Or so I wrongly believed. But it turns out that he only wrote the music, and the lyrics were written by...Frank Loesser! In fact, there's a very funny sequence in the film about how arguably the most-famous song by the man who wrote the scores to Guys & Dolls, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, The Most Happy Fella and the movie Hans Christian Anderson is a number that most people have no idea he wrote -- including (in a very amusing on-camera interview, Frank Loesser's oldest daughter, who talks about playing the song and "Chopticks" all the time when growing up at piano recitals and parties, and even she did not learn until much later that it was written by her father.)
So, in honor of perhaps his most-famous song (lyrics only...), here's what has now probably become the most-famous version of it, (music only -- except for one word, "Madly" at the 1:20 mark...) performed on their feet by Tom Hanks and Robert Loggia from Big.
But, okay, that's just the music, and this is about Frank Loesser who wrote the lyrics. So, to be fair and to round the whole thing out, this is the original version of the song, "Heart and Soul" -- words included. It's from the 1939 Paramount short, sung by Bea Wain and with Larry Clinton, who I assume is the bandleader -- music by Hoagy Carmichael, and lyrics by...Frank Loesser.
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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