Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Billy Wilder was among the screenwriters of this easy-to-take Bing Crosby musical. Basil Rathbone dominates the proceedings as Oliver Courtney, a popular composer whose most successful tunes were actually ghost-written by musician Bob Summers (Crosby) and lyricist Cherry Lane (Mary Martin). Unaware of each other's existence at first, Bob and Cherry eventually discover that they've been duped by the pompous Courtney. They decide to break away from their employer and team up on their own, but the powerful Courtney manages to block their professional efforts. Ultimately, hero and heroine emerge triumphant, and Courtney is forced to help them get started on the road to success lest he be exposed as a charlatan. Piano prodigy Oscar Levant essays his first full-out comedy role as Courtney's sarcastic assistant, taking time out to poke fun at his own real-life phobias (in his memoirs, Levant recalled that he spent many a pleasant afternoon listening to the middle-aged Basil Rathbone discuss his digestive problems in vivid and eloquent detail!) None of the seven original songs in Rhythm on the River grew up to be hits, but the title tune did manage to get generous airplay thanks to Bing Crosby.
music, behind-the-scenes, composer, creative-block, ego, employment, talent, writing