Stars such as Bing Crosby were often never given credit for their acting skill. Although Crosby won an Oscar he was often thought of as a lightweight in the acting department.
Since most of his films were comedies and musicals, and because most of his fame rested on his singing, people tend to overlook his dramatic roles. Two films stand out. One is 1954′s The Country Girl, based on a Clifford Odets stage play about an alcoholic ex-star and his resilient, long-suffering wife (Crosby and Grace Kelly, pictured above).
And then there is this — a small gem, 1953′s Little Boy Lost.
Here, Bing is cast as an American war correspondent in Europe whose French wife (Nicole Maurey) is killed during the German occupation of Paris from 1940 to 1944. The couple’s young son (Christian Fourcade) is lost in the fog of a wartime bombing raid, and is believed to living in a French orphanage.
Barred entry to wartime Paris, Bing returns postwar to the City of Light — where the movie was actually filmed, somewhat unusual for the time — to find his son.
No Bob Hope, Dorothy Lamour nor Danny Kaye. No coquettish priestly performances as the “with it” cleric. No Barry Fitzgerald. And few chances for Bing to let loose and warble. And, absolutely, no White Christmas.
Directed by the underrated George Seaton, Little Boy Lost allows Bing to sing some pretty children’s songs but no chart-busting ballads. According to one source, a ballad sung by Maurey (Mon Cour Est Un Violon or “My Heart Is A Violin”) in the movie was later recorded in French by Crosby. It’s considered a rare specimen of Crosby-anna today.
But let’s appreciate Little Boy Lost for the excellence of Crosby’s acting. The complexity of his performance may have had something to do with Bing’s personal life. His first, wife, Dixie, was dying of cancer when the movie was made (it was released theatrically 11 months after her death.)
In any case, this is one forgotten Crosby film that shouldn’t be.