Cast & Crew
Within a week, Hugo Meyerheld, the old-fashioned music director of Sunrise Studios, must find a young composer to write a modern score for one of Sunrise's pictures, or be fired by studio head Saul Dana. When Angela Jones, his devoted secretary, insists on taking Hugo to hear Ding Dong Williams, a jazz clarinetist, Hugo is leery, as Angela's "ideas" always lead to trouble. Despite his initial apprehensions, however, Hugo discovers that the unassuming Ding Dong is an excellent jazz composer. Ding Dong refuses their job offer, however, until Angela promises to introduce him to Steve Moore, his favorite Western singing star. Soon after their arrival at the studios, the starstruck Ding Dong reveals to Angela that he cannot read or write music and consequently never plays any of his compositions twice. Although a shocked Angela tries to convince him not to tell Hugo the truth, Ding Dong bares his soul to the conductor, who then faints with dread. Determined to save her boss, Angela takes Ding Dong to see musical arrangers Zing and Zang, and they agree to copy down Ding Dong's music as he composes it. When Ding Dong then confesses that he only composes when he is sad, Angela, Zing and Zang try in vain to depress him. In desperation, Zing and Zang lie to Ding Dong that Stardust, Steve Moore's movie horse, is seriously injured, but their plan backfires when Ding Dong's subsequent plaintive clarinet playing is heard by Steve and Vanessa Page, Steve's former co-star and girl friend. Vanessa, who has recently made the move from Westerns to "features," is still in love with Steve and is jealous when he reveals that he is dating his new co-star. Hoping to make Steve jealous, she demands that Ding Dong accompany her to the Club Creon that night. When Angela learns of Ding Dong's date, she grows despondent and is upset the next day when gossip columnist Laura Cooper writes an item about his burgeoning "romance" with Vanessa. With time running out on Hugo, however, Angela decides to be indifferent to Ding Dong, hoping that her seeming lack of interest will make him depressed, and tells him that she has a date with Steve that night. Knowing that Vanessa and Ding Dong will be passing by her apartment, Angela steals Stardust from the studio and fashions a Steve Moore "dummy" to dance with her in front of her living room window. As hoped, a saddened Ding Dong begins composing on his clarinet, while Vanessa, furious with jealousy, confronts Angela, who is recording Ding Dong's playing on a portable recording machine. Soon Ding Dong's music causes the neighbors to call the police, and a full-scale brawl ensues. All appears lost until the next day when Dana, who has fired Hugo, Angela and Ding Dong, hears the musician improvising with the studio orchestra. Impressed by Ding Dong's composition, Dana rehires him along with a relieved Angela and Hugo.
Helen Eby Rock
John L. Cass
Albert S. D'agostino
M. Coates Webster
Ding Dong Williams
Ding Dong is almost sacked when it is discovered that he cannot read nor write music. But a studio secretary (Marcy McGuire) comes up with a plan whereby two professional arrangers will transcribe the bandleader's music. The arrangers soon discover that Ding Dong's playing changes with his every mood swing -- so they plot to keep him in a "blue" mood until the score is complete.
Songs include "Cool Water," written by Bob Nolan and performed by Nolan and the Sons of the Pioneers; and two tunes by Jimmy McHugh and Harold Adamson: "I Saw You First" and "Candlelight and Wine."
Vernon (more often credited as Glen Vernon) enjoyed a long career on the stage and in television and movies. He remained active through the 1990s, with appearances in films such as So I Married an Axe Murderer (1993). McGuire, in films from the age of 16, showed an aptitude for both music and comedy in several films before retiring in 1952. One of her more memorable moments onscreen came when she swooned at Frank Sinatra's feet in Higher and Higher (1943).
Producer: Herman Schlom, Sid Rogell (Executive producer)
Director: William Berke
Screenplay: M. Coates Webster and Brenda Weisberg, from magazine stories by Richard English
Cinematography: Frank Redman
Art Direction: Lucius Croxton, Albert D'Agostino
Original Music: Harold Adamson, Jimmy McHugh, Bob Nolan (all uncredited)
Editing: Les Millbrook
Principal Cast: Glenn Vernon (Ding Dong Williams), Marcy McGuire (Angela Jones), Felix Bressart (Hugo Meyerhold), Anne Jeffreys (Vanessa Page), James Warren (Steve Moore).
by Roger Fristoe
Ding Dong Williams
According to onscreen credits, this film was based on the "Collier's magazine stories" by Richard English. SAB lists only "Strictly Ding Dong" as a specific source, however. It is possible that "Ding Dong Gives" (Collier's, 28 October 1939) and other English stories printed in Collier's could also be sources. Although Hollywood Reporter noted in April 1945 that the film was to be the first in a series of features based on the English stories, no other pictures using the Ding Dong character were made by RKO. According to Hollywood Reporter, eleven-year-old pianist Richard Korbel was signed for the production after he appeared at Carnegie Hall and drew rave reviews. Bob Nolan's song "Cool Water," which is performed in the picture by Nolan and the Sons of the Pioneers, became a hit in 1948.