Fun Singer in "Sleuth" [UNSOLVABLE MYSTERY?]

Discussion in 'Trivia: I Need To Know' started by Salzmank, Feb 19, 2017.

  1. Salzmank

    Salzmank Member: Rank 2

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    OK, why not put it here too? The more that this question is throughout the Internet, the better, perhaps?

    This question had been in the "I Need to Know" forum at IMDb, where I was helped by the users WillEd, Byrdz, and Helena727 in particular. Unfortunately, we were unable to come up with a response. It was a long thread, so, though I'll only be posting the gist of the thread, I'll still be posting here in parts. Here goes; here's my first post only from a few months ago, but seemingly so long!
    _______________________________________________________

    I'm sure somebody has posted about this before because it's seemingly such a big mystery (see www.soundtrackcollector.com/forum/displayquestion.php?topicid=7598, en.allexperts.com/q/Classic-Film-2786/Cole-Porter-Sleuth-movie.htm, and www.imdb.com/title/tt0069281/board/thread/10107549), so, if there is another thread about this, it would help me a great deal if someone can post a link to it.

    The mystery is that just about no one seems to know who sang three Cole Porter songs--"Just One of Those Things," "You Do Something to Me," and "Anything Goes"--in the movie Sleuth (1972). Here's a link to a video of Laurence Olivier's character dancing to them in a scene from the movie: www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_VVr8ScGOc. One would think that by this time someone would have some idea of who sang them, but the identity of the singer just seems a mystery despite some promising leads over the years, none of which have panned out. Even more curiously, there is no singer identified in the end credits, and the three songs did not appear on the movie's soundtrack.


    From what I could find, the last time that someone could look into this question was at the website "Soundtrack Collector" on March 5 of this year; the last poster stated that he had found "the exact song" of "Anything Goes" on Amazon Music for $1.29. After checking Amazon Music and looking through/previewing the many different versions of "Anything Goes," I was unable to find the song to which he referred and could not find the version from Sleuth. The poster immediately before him suggested that "You Do Something to Me" was on the soundtrack for Woody Allen's Magic in the Moonlight, but, after checking that, I discovered that that version was sung by Frank Luther for Leo Reisman's orchestra, a candidate considered since the beginning--and not the actual singer from Sleuth. The weird thing about the whole thing is that it seems so mysterious. Why should it be so difficult to find who sang three songs? Why wasn't the singer's name in the credits? Why didn't the soundtrack include the songs?


    My only guess--and I concede that this is far-fetched--is that it's on purpose. The film is all about tricks, games, mysteries, puzzles, etc., and, unlikely as it sounds, I wonder if director Joseph Mankiewicz and screenwriter Anthony Shaffer made this mysterious singer so hard to find on purpose. That is to say, I wonder if the versions were specially created for the film or put together from other recordings (somehow)--or that it's someone whom we wouldn't suspect of being a singer (someone suggested Michael Caine himself, though I very much doubt it). More likely, of course, no one ever thought that anyone would be trying so hard to find this guy--but that still leaves the above questions unanswered. I apologize for going on so long, but I did want to provide all the background that I could. Thank you all very much--it would be great if someone could finally put this old question to rest!
     
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  2. Salzmank

    Salzmank Member: Rank 2

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    After confirming that it is not actually Frank Luther's singing for Leo Reisman's orchestra, "WillEd," who helped me greatly, came to the conclusion that these were actually recordings made just for the movie. His theory was backed up by "MusicProf78," who posted the Leo Reisman/Frank Luther track, and "Lyncounion" at soundtrackcollector.com. D'après "Lyncounion":

    ""I'm pretty certain these are modern recordings.

    "There are a number of giveaways, if you listen closely:

    - The arrangements of "You Do Something to Me" and "Anything Goes" do not stylistically fit the big band music of the period in that they start with a vocal verse instead of an instrumental verse. More significantly, in "Anything Goes" there are multiple instrumental verses after the vocal verse, which very conveniently occur exactly when the characters in the film start talking.
    - The length of "You Do Something to Me" is barely over 2 minutes, short for a 78 of this style.
    - The acoustic bass, on all the numbers, is very loud and well defined in the mix. Recording technology was not sufficiently advanced in the 30s to capture a rich bass sound like this.
    - The snare fill played by the drummer at the beginning of "Anything Goes" (right after the bell rings), is uncharacteristic of the period. It's also quite loud and trebly, which wasn't easily captured in older recordings.
    - In the same song, in the first measure of the verse the guitar and bass play a figure with a strong backbeat that would sound more common in the rock era--rhythm sections didn't play like this in the 30's.

    "I'm far from an expert on 1930's recordings or big-band music, but after listening to it on good headphones I think these are very well done fakes done by studio pros. I certainly could be wrong, but that so many people have been interested in this question and it hasn't been easily resolved makes it more likely that these vintage recordings don't actually exist. It's still a wonderful film."
     
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  3. Salzmank

    Salzmank Member: Rank 2

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    And, amazingly enough, we're not done yet!

    "WillEd" then argued that it could conceivably be '30s recordings, as unlikely as it seemed:

    "Guess what? I found a singer who started in 1925 and it looks like in all his recordings he sings in what later became the standard. Short music into. Sings the song, short music break, then repeats the last two verses. I never heard of him until now, but he was very popular, so I think my theory before was correct. If a singer was popular enough, that is the way it went, but if the focus is the orchestra, the singer is second fiddle to that and has to wait until the orchestra starts before he gets to sing and usually does it fast, like so they can get back to the orchestra."

    and

    "It means it could be an old recording because the modern method was sometimes used then, but I still think they are modern recordings. My gut tells me they are not authentic from that period. The singer obviously is not someone famous and you still have the problem of three Cole Porter songs from the same singer and one of the songs is from the twenties while the other two are mid thirties and the orchestra is the same in all three. The two from the thirties could possibly be A and B sides on the same record. The twenties one is harder to explain."
     
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  4. Salzmank

    Salzmank Member: Rank 2

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    And then I was able to find an e-mail address for someone who worked on the film, Graham Hartstone. Mr. Hartstone was kind enough to respond to my e-mail but could shed no light on the matter:

    "I have had this enquiry before, a few years ago and I'm afraid I wasn't able to spread any light on this conundrum. I don't know if anyone is around who worked for Palomar Pictures [the production company] - there may be a paper trail showing who either paid or paid for the vocalist.

    "Sorry I can't be more help.

    "Kind regards

    "Graham."
     
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  5. Salzmank

    Salzmank Member: Rank 2

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    OK, those are the major points that we made on the original IMDb. Maybe one or two sleuths here can start work on this puzzle too!

    Thanks!

    (P.S. At the "IMDb v2.0" forum, the user "Paislene" originally suspected that they were actually from the '30s, like WillEd did originally, because of the expense it would have taken a not-very-expensive [$3.5 mil.] film to create convincing studio replicas. I still lean towards the "made for the movie" theory, because of the points that Lyncounion and WillEd made, but I just wanted to give you another point of view.)
     
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  6. Doctor Omega

    Doctor Omega Moderator

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    Here are the songs at the heart of this mystery...

     
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    #6 Doctor Omega, Feb 19, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2018
  7. Nick91

    Nick91 Member: Rank 2

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    Has Bobby Short been mentioned as a possible candidate? According to a 1972 article (Corpus Christi Caller Times, 2 January 1972), he "specializes in Cole Porter. He can do practically any Cole Porter song..."

    In fact, he released an album called "Bobby Loves Cole Porter" only a year before Sleuth came out. It's easy to see why the film producers would want to hire someone like him to do the job.
     
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    #7 Nick91, Feb 21, 2017
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  8. Nick91

    Nick91 Member: Rank 2

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    For what it's worth, Michael Caine & Bobby Short have worked together on at least two occasions: Hannah and her Sisters (1986) & Blue Ice (1992).
     
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    #8 Nick91, Feb 21, 2017
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  9. Salzmank

    Salzmank Member: Rank 2

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    Nick--
    That's a great choice--and, now that we're pretty much positive it was done specially for the movie, probably the direction in which we should be looking: '70s crooners who sing Cole Porter rather than the original '30s singers. The fact that Short and Michael Caine worked together is excellent circumstantial evidence and got me excited that we'd at long last found the singer. Unfortunately, I just listened to Short (who's a really pretty good singer) sing "Just One of Those Things," and he's almost definitely not our man. He and the Sleuth singer have completely different voices. But thanks for looking into this! As I said, that's absolutely the direction we should be heading in.

    Thanks again,

    Salzmank
     
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  10. Salzmank

    Salzmank Member: Rank 2

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    By the way, thanks for posting the video, Doc. I should have thought of that.

    Oh, and some news: John Addison was the composer for Sleuth. I just learned the other day that he willed all his papers to the Brigham Young University Film Music Archive, so I e-mailed the Archive's curator, James D'Arc, yesterday morning. Unfortunately, Mr. D'Arc has yet to get back to me, but I just thought I'd let you all know.
     
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  11. Nick91

    Nick91 Member: Rank 2

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    Salzmank, upon listening to the two of them more closely this time, I think you're right about them not having similar enough voices. The difficulty (for me, at least) is that as soon as I pause one song to play the other one, I forget what the first voice sounded like, lol. Anyway, one angle that we can approach this mystery from is to learn more about the original 1970 stage version of Sleuth. Did the same three Cole Porter songs appear there too? Well, I checked the newspaper archives and found one interesting article. I will post it in its entirety in the spoiler below:

    Source: The Times, 25 November 1970.

    The program credits in the new hit, 'Sleuth', now include: "The third clue in the second act is through the courtesy of the Cole Porter estate." That's because Porter's title song for 'Anything Goes' is sung. John Wharton, attorney for the Porter estate insisted that at least a credit-line be accorded the late songwriter.

    Now we know for a fact that at least one of the three Cole Porter songs was in the theater version as well as the film version. The question is whether someone sang it live during the performances, or if it was recorded and played over the radio like in the movie? If it's the latter, then it is possible that it's the exact same recording as the one in the film. If it's the former, what if he's the same person that Mankiewicz recruited two years later?

    The guy who is referenced as the representative of the Cole Porter estate, John F. Wharton, died in 1977, which is unsurprising given his birth year.

    Last but not least, a 1973 article wrote about the movie Sleuth and contained the following unintentionally funny sentence: "Along with the tip-top acting, the cautious direction, the fantastic set, and the thinking man's script, "Sleuth" has a snappy music score which includes three Cole Porter songs. Who could ask for anything more?"

    Who could ask for anything more? Well, umm, about that....:emoji_fearful::emoji_cold_sweat::emoji_grinning:
     
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    #11 Nick91, Feb 22, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2017
  12. Salzmank

    Salzmank Member: Rank 2

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    That's a good lead, but, if I'm remembering my Sleuth script, there's a scene near the end in which

    Milo Tindle whistles "Anything Goes," which is then used as a clue for Andrew Wyke.

    In other words, the scene to which the article is referring is not the same as the one in the movie, in which Olivier's Wyke is dancing and singing to the songs.

    In fact, I'm highly skeptical that there was a similar scene in the play, just because I have a copy of the play somewhere around here and it doesn't have that scene in it; it was Mankiewicz's addition.

    Good thoughts, though, as always. Unfortunately, I'm pretty busy with actual work at the moment, and D'Arc still hasn't gotten back to me.
     
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  13. Salzmank

    Salzmank Member: Rank 2

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    Oh, and here's a new tidbit of information if you're interested.

    Someone recently alerted me to the fact that, in Sleuth's opening credits, under where it says, "words and music by Cole Porter," there's a line in extremely small print that reads, "...by arrangement with Warner Brothers Publishing."

    So! On the other forum, one of the posters asked if I had ever contacted Warner Brothers Publishing--which, much to my shame, I had not. (In my defense, I had thought that someone on Soundtrack Collector had contacted them and not received a response, but, as it turns out, that person had only contacted the Cole Porter HQ in New York.)

    I e-mailed Warner Bros. Publishing last night. Just as with D'Arc, no response as of yet, but I thought I'd just let you all know.
     
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  14. Nick91

    Nick91 Member: Rank 2

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    Contacting Warner Bros. is an interesting idea. I'm not entirely sure how film music licensing contracts looked like in the 1970s, but formal contracts in general tend to be basic non-specific templates with blank lines which all involved parties fill in with ink. Here is one example of how a contemporary version looks like. Since Cole Porter was already deceased by the time Sleuth was being produced, both his estate (represented by John Wharton) as well as Warner Bros. (Steve J. Ross?) were probably the only two sides granting permission. Unless there was third-party that we are unaware of.

    On the other end, Morton Gottlieb's name should be in the contract, since he was the producer and likely made the formal request. Or if he delegated the task to a Palomar Pictures attorney or even someone from the sound department.

    The main question is whether there would be any mention of the person who provided the vocals? I'm not entirely sure that is the case. Unlike one artist wanting to cover another artist's song(s), the person we are looking for probably wasn't asked to sign his name because he is an employee of this particular project. As soon as the employer is granted permission, then the individual actors, screenwriters, crew members, vocalists, etc. are automatically greenlighted as well.

    So basically, solving the mystery through the Warner Bros. angle is contingent on how much information the written documents contain. Even if they are willing to help out without breaching any privacy laws, they would have to go through all their legal documents in the archives to find anything useful. Another possibility is that a longtime Warner Bros. worker can recollect from memory or even locate possible informal documents like letter correspondence.

    It's too bad that D'Arc hasn't responded yet; if he's part of the older generation, then maybe he is more of a phone call type of person? I know a lot of people who are more comfortable discussing things in a traditional way, even though a man of his position should really be approachable through various means.
     
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    #14 Nick91, Feb 23, 2017
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  15. Salzmank

    Salzmank Member: Rank 2

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    Very true, and excellent thoughts on the Warner Bros. contract angle. Since D'Arc still hasn't called, I'm thinking of calling his office when I have a chance (opportunities like that being few and far between for me right now). I was just a bit cautious about calling up this random person on the other side of the country to talk about something about which I'm pretty sure he couldn't care less. But you may be right, and that may be the only way to get in touch with him, so I can try. As always, thanks for your help.
     
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  16. CarlCarlson

    CarlCarlson Member: Rank 1

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    Maybe nothing you didn't already know but maybe so
    http://www.soundtrackcollector.com/forum/displayquestion.php?topicid=7598
     
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  17. Salzmank

    Salzmank Member: Rank 2

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  18. CarlCarlson

    CarlCarlson Member: Rank 1

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    Sorry, didn't catch that.
     
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  19. Salzmank

    Salzmank Member: Rank 2

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    No worries!
     
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  20. Nick91

    Nick91 Member: Rank 2

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    The original Sleuth thread on IMDb has been archived and can be viewed here.
     
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