» » East Side of Heaven (1939)

Short summary

Singer Denny Martin's marriage to telephone operator Mary Wilson has been postponed several times already and is delayed once again when he changes jobs from singing telegrams to being a singing cab driver. His friend Cyrus Barrett Jr. is the scion of an autocratic millionaire father who is determined to wrest custody of his grandson from his alcoholic son and wife Mona. After Cyrus goes into rehab to dry out on Denny's advice, Barrett Sr. legally moves against his daughter-in-law and tries to have her arrested on kidnapping charges. A desperate Mona leaves Denny in charge of her infant son until she can locate the younger Barrett, but this presents new complications for Denny and his Russisn roommate Nicky as fiancée Mary becomes suspicious that Denny may be seeing another woman.

The producers originally wanted Ann Sothern for the Blondell role, but she was on tour singing with husband Roger Pryor's band.

Russian Mischa Auer's Nicky character utters the malapropism, "Include me out!" popularly attributed to producer Samuel Goldwyn, who was born in Poland in 1879, when it was the part of the Russian Empire. Goldwyn was infamous for his "Goldwynisms."

User reviews

  • comment
    • Author: Vaua
    "East Side of Heaven" is a fable of New York City with a breezy Bing Crosby as a singer (first a singing telegrapher then a taxi troubadour) whose life is complicated by a friend's marital woes and a baby.

    Joan Blondell has a grand showcase for her loveliness and her comedy chops as Bing's fiancée. Mischa Auer steals every scene he is in as the helpful, loafer pal.

    The most adorable tot in movies, Baby Sandy, is the plot hinge upon which swings a tyrannical grandfather (C. Aubrey Smith), a worried mother (Irene Hervey) and a grandly unlikable radio host (Jerome Cowan).

    You'll wish there really was such a place as the Frying Pan Cafe where waiters and cooks join guests in song. "Hang Your Heart on a Hickory Limb" is just one of the infectious numbers that add the sparkle to this movie.

    A truly entertaining comedy-musical the whole family will enjoy.
  • comment
    • Author: Quemal
    East Side of Heaven is one of two pictures Bing Crosby did for Universal. In exchange. I believe Paramount got the services of Allan Jones for The Great Victor Herbert and Honeymoon in Bali. Crosby's second film for Universal was If I Had My Way.

    This one for Universal was done on the same skimpy budget that Paramount normally gave 1930s Crosby vehicles. But loan outs are good to see because you get a chance to watch a leading star with players that are not from his home base. Crosby gets a spirited leading lady in Joan Blondell in their one and only film together. Similarly he has supporting players like Mischa Auer, Irene Hervey, C. Aubrey Smith and Jerome Cowan who are all very good and also never worked with Crosby again.

    Crosby is first a singing telegraph messenger and later a singing taxi driver who's going out with Joan Blondell and she's a switchboard operator at a radio station. Jerome Cowan who plays a Walter Winchell like columnist has eyes for her. An old friend of Bing's, Irene Hervey who married a wealthy heir, deposits her baby with Bing while she sorts out her marital problems caused by her meddling father-in-law, C. Aubrey Smith. The baby is believed kidnapped and the fun begins.

    Bing has four good songs to sing, written by Jimmy Monaco and Johnny Burke. Two of his patented philosophical numbers, Sing a Song of Sunbeams and Hang Your Heart on a Hickory Limb, a ballad East Side of Heaven and the hit of the movie That Sly Old Gentlemen sung to put Baby Sandy to sleep.

    The plot involving a potentially kidnapped baby was very relevant with the news of the Lindbergh baby fresh in everyone's mind. Fortunately all is righted at the end.

    IF you love Bing as I do, see this movie.
  • comment
    • Author: Ance
    East Side of Heaven, like most of Bing Crosby's 1930's vehicles, is mild, but very enjoyable entertainment. This one may rise a bit above the others because Crosby, on loan-out from Paramount to Universal, operates with a different and perhaps more sophisticated cast than usual. Not the least of which is that gorgeous, buxom hunk of womanhood, comedienne and fine actress Joan Blondell co-starring as his fiancé. The inimitable, delightfully and bizarrely funny Mischa Auer is on board as Bing's wacky, bug-eyed room mate. Auer, known as "the Mad Russian", had by this movie's 1939 release become a fixture in the period's screwball comedies. Labelled a stereotype by the present generation's politically correct doctrinaires, he was anything but. He was in fact a one of a kind comedian whose act, which has to be experienced rather than described, enlivened every picture he was in. Jerome Cowan contributes one of his typical nasty slickster, a radio gossip monger, while tall, distinguished C. Aubrey Smith adds a touch of class as a gruff millionaire trying to find his grand baby.

    And here we come to the real attraction of the show, aside from Crosby's crooning. Baby Sandy, the most utterly adorable, cute, well-behaved, and cuddly baby every produced by American motherhood, I'm sure. Even and old grouch like me couldn't resist her. The winsome kid is being kept by Crosby, a singing taxi driver, while the mother tries to get matters straighted out with her hubby, Smith's ne'er-do-well son. That with expected complications comprises most of this likable musical comedy's fluffy plot. Never mind, the show is carried by Bing's mellow singing, Auer's hilarious antics, Joan's big, blue-eyed good looks, and of course that precious little Sandy baby.

    Crosby's numbers included "Sing A Song Of Sunbeams", the warbling cabbie's theme song, the title song, sung at the end, and "Hang Your Hat On a Hickory Limb". This last is the best, as it expands into an elaborate song and dance number involving everyone in a large diner. Three plump old dolls, who must have started show biz in the Gay Nineties, sing a trio that almost steals the show from Bing, and a dancing chef-drummer uses everything in the kitchen for an instrument.

    Director David Butler, who also produced and wrote the story, guides all with his usual smooth, sure hand. He was in his element here. Through the 'thirties, 'forties, and 'fifties, before turning to television, he directed with consummate skill dozens of similar light weight but fun musicals and comedies. But he occasionally demonstrated versatility, as when he shifted gears to direct (with some uncredited help from Raoul Walsh) one of my favorite westerns San Antonio (1945 -- see my review).

    East Side of Heaven may have been a cheap production, but sets are first rate and the black and white cinematography sumptuous. It has the same smooth, polished look and sound of all big studio productions of the late 1930's through the late 1940's. Thoroughly enjoyable entertainment from America's favorite crooner and Old Hollywood's Golden Era.
  • comment
    • Author: Nuadora
    EAST SIDE OF HEAVEN (Universal, 1939), directed by David Butler, features Bing Crosby, on loan from Paramount, his first starring role for Universal, where he made his debut appearing as one of the Rhythm Boys in THE KING OF JAZZ (1930). Working opposite Joan Blondell for the only time on screen, his competition for this production happens to be an infant named Baby Sandy Henville, in her motion picture debut, billed simply as Sandy. Although not the initial opener to the short lived "Baby Sandy" series, it did introduce little Sandy to movie audiences, with her character in the plot being a boy.

    Set in New York City, this good-natured story finds Denny Martin (Bing Crosby) working for Postal Union where he sings telegram messages to customers over the telephone. Aside from sharing an apartment with his Russian born friend, Nicky (Mischa Auer), who lives on astrology readings and wears a bathrobe with the inscription on the back, "Moscow Golden Gloves 1919," Denny is also engaged to Mary Wilson (Joan Blondell), an attractive switchboard operator at the Hotel Raleigh who is loved by Claudius De Wolfe (Jerome Cowan), a radio reporter for the Federal Broadcasting Station, whose catch phrase is, "Are you happy, honey?" and who makes ever effort coming between Mary and Denny. Denny's wedding has been postponed three times already and now a fourth after losing his job for speaking out of turn to millionaire Cyrus Barrett Sr. (C. Aubrey Smith), DeWolfe's sponsor, for interfering into the lives of his good friend, Mona (Irene Hervey) and her husband, Cyrus Barrett Jr. (Robert Kent). Denny's unemployment lasts only a day, having acquired a job the next morning for the Sunbean Cab Company as a "Cruising Troubador" taxi driver singing to his passengers. All goes well until Denny encounters Mona and her infant son (Sandy), who confides in him about her unhappy marriage with her husband always out on drinking binges, thanks to his father. She now wants to locate Cyrus and save her marriage before it's is too late. Unable to break away from her child, whom the grandfather wants to take custody, Denny advises her to leave her baby with a friend she can trust. She does, Denny. Denny, who's never really been fond of children, learns how to act as father and guardian taking the responsibility keeping the renowned infant in his apartment and out of reach of detectives and nosy neighbors. Nicky, experienced in babysitting having raised his three younger brothers (who have since disappeared), helps care for the child by day. Having acquired a baby nearly breaks up his engagement when Mona mistakes Denny's "baby" for another woman. Things really get complicated when Denny returns to his apartment to find Nicky tied up with the baby gone. The next step is for Denny and Nicky to locate the baby before they become accused of kidnapping.

    Good tunes by James V. Monaco and Johnny Burke include: "Sing a Song of Sunbeams" (sung by Bing Crosby); "Hang Your Heart on a Hickory Limb" (sung by Crosby and The Music Maids); "Sing a Song of Sunbeams" (reprise); "That Sly Old Gentleman" (sung by Crosby to Baby Sandy); "The East Side of Heaven," "That Sly Old Gentleman" and "The East Side of Heaven" (reprise).

    Cleverly scripted and often amusing, especially with the comedy relief by Mischa Auer, placing babies with crooning actors is really nothing new. It's been done before, notably with Maurice Chevalier in A BEDTIME STORY (Paramount, 1933) where he plays a Frenchman who unwittingly becomes an adopted father to Baby LeRoy. Singing cab drivers has also been done before in "Broadway Gondolier" (Warners, 1935) starring Dick Powell. While it's unlikely to come across singing taxi drivers these days, it's anybody's guess the one portrayed by Crosby actually existed, considering the closing credits following the cast of players reading: The "cruising troubadour" suggested on Dave Howell's character.

    Rarely seen since its presentation on public television in the 1980s, it's been resurrected as a DVD package tribute to Bing Crosby along with his other Universal venture, IF I HAD MY WAY (1940) in 2006. A feel good movie that should delight many Bing Crosby fans. "Are you happy, honey?" (***1/2)
  • comment
    • Author: Drelalen
    If you are a fan of Bing Crosby fan you won't be disappointed by East Side of Heaven. The story is a touch protracted and I did wish Joan Blondell had more to do other than being a reactionary character, she seemed underused in the second half. East Side of Heaven is a nice film to look at, it isn't lavish but it is photographed with style and love and the costumes and sets are equally attractive. The music score is lush and catchy, and the songs don't disappoint either. Hang Your Heart on a Hickory Limb is colourfully staged and snappy and That Sly Old Gentleman and the beautiful ballad East Side of Heaven are classic Bing Crosby. The choreography is neither too simple or too complicated and it's elaborate without being overblown and when the film calls for a more understated touch it doesn't become laboured either. The dialogue is clever and snappy, the funniest moments coming from Mischa Auer and while East Side of Heaven drips with sentimentality it is also in an endearing and touching way, never forgetting to be entertaining either. Bing Crosby is charming and has no trouble being comfortable, he also sings a dream as he always did. Joan Blondell has allure and sassiness but she has had much better written roles. C Aubrey Smith ability to be gruff and classy as well as amusing comes naturally to him, but the most memorable performances come from Mischa Auer who's very funny and in some parts of the film hilarious and the absolutely adorable Baby Sandy. In conclusion, very entertaining and well done, won't disappoint Bing Crosby fans. 8/10 Bethany Cox
  • comment
    • Author: Rishason
    This is one of two films Bing Crosby-a Paramount contract player-made on loan to Universal. In this one, he's originally a telegram singer before getting fired and becoming a crooning taxi driver. He's engaged to Joan Blondell and has Mischa Auer for a roommate. Oh, and there's a baby involved. I'll stop there and just say that the songs sung by Bing are entertaining especially one number taking place in a café where both the female cooks and some waitresses join in. There's plenty of funny lines and mannerisms especially from Auer. And this baby, whose name is Sandy, is sure cute! Really, this was a breezy 90 minutes that didn't test my patience. So on that note, East Side of Heaven is worth a look.
  • comment
    • Author: Thetahuginn
    "East Side of Heaven" isn't a particularly deep or fancy film, but it is fun and is a nice little family film. It's so nice, it's almost worth giving this one an 8.

    Bing Crosby plays a struggling singer. He can't find a good job, so he first takes one as a singing telegram man and then as, oddly, a singing taxi driver. During the course of his job, he meets a desperate young lady and her obnoxious and very rich father-in-law (C. Aubry Smith). The old man is determined to take the child away--even though the mother is very competent. So, in desperation, she hides the cute kid with a friend--Bing and his roommate (Mischa Auer). The plot doesn't get a whole lot deeper than that, but it helped that Joan Blondell was on hand to play Bing's fiancée and that the baby was so freakin' adorable. All in all, fluff--but incredibly enjoyable, well written and well made fluff.

    By the way, this film is included on the same disc as Bing's "If I Had My Way"--a film that is even better! A wonderful DVD and one worth having in your collection.
  • comment
    • Author: Hra
    Did you ever see Bachelor Mother, the 1939 comedy that deals with the mix-up of a little baby? Well, East Side of Heaven isn't as cute or funny, but it is cute and funny in its own right, so give it a try if you want something light and sweet in the afternoon.

    Bing Crosby delivers singing telegrams, but when he upsets a bigwig, C. Aubrey Smith, he gets fired. Joan Blondell, his telephone operator girlfriend who's constantly pursued by radio man Jerome Cowan, is devoted and sweet to Bing, even when he's unemployed and struggling to pay his bills. Luck quickly comes his way, because he gets the coolest job as a singing taxi driver! The cab company has only one driver who serenades his fares, and each time you're lucky enough to get him, you also get a free ride. That way, people will always want to hail that company's cabs for the chance to hear Bing! Isn't that genius?

    For that reason alone, this movie is worth seeing. Every cab company should do that! The rest of the movie is pretty cute, and the fast paced story doesn't drag. Mischa Auer plays Bing's silly roommate, and while I would have preferred Felix Bressart, some of Mischa's lines are funny anyway. Bing and Joan are adorable, the plot is intriguing, and with the exception to one lengthy number, the songs are cute. And if you like babies, this one is extremely well-behaved and well-trained. Check it out!
  • comment
    • Author: Not-the-Same
    Someone once said, "Never do movies with dogs or babies. You'll loose every time". That proves to be true for Bing Crosby and Joan Blondell in this 1939 Universal comedy with songs. They have the first half of the movie to dominate, but once Baby Sandy comes on, it's all over for these two. Crosby is a singing cab driver who finds that the estranged wife of a drunken pal has left a baby in his cab to prevent her father-in-law from taking custody of the child. Crosby must then hide the baby until the mother reclaims it and prevent a nasty reporter from exposing him. Joan Blondell plays his girlfriend and gives her usual peppy wide-eyed performance, but really is wasted here. Fresh from 9 years at Warner Brothers, she was obviously hoping for better things, but didn't get it in this movie. Crosby sings a few charming songs, and is basically the same as he is in pretty much every other movie he made up to that point.

    Surrounding these two stars are such familiar character actors as Mischa Auer (as Crosby's Russian roommate) and C. Aubrey Smith as the grouchy millionaire/father-in-law. All of them don't mean squat once Baby Sandy shows up on the screen. Even cuter than Baby LeRoy, this tot smiles and plays for the camera as if she had one starring at her at birth. It's obvious as to why Universal felt she could handle her own series. Without the presence of this adorably little girl, the film would be entirely too cloying to enjoy.
  • Credited cast:
    Bing Crosby Bing Crosby - Denny Martin
    Joan Blondell Joan Blondell - Mary Wilson
    Mischa Auer Mischa Auer - Nicky
    Irene Hervey Irene Hervey - Mona Barrett
    C. Aubrey Smith C. Aubrey Smith - Cyrus Barrett Snr.
    Robert Kent Robert Kent - Cyrus Barrett Jr.
    Jerome Cowan Jerome Cowan - Claudius De Wolfe
    Baby Sandy Baby Sandy - Sandy, the Barrett Baby
    Jane Jones Jane Jones - Mrs. Kelly, One of the Singing Cooks
    Rose Valyda Rose Valyda - Singing Cook
    Helen Warner Helen Warner - Singing Cook
    Jack Powell Jack Powell - Happy Jack, the Chef
    Matty Malneck Matty Malneck - Orchestra Leader
    Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
    The Music Maids The Music Maids - Waitresses
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