We didn’t know the expression ‘en goguette’ so we had to look it up. It means going on a spree, being in a good mood, ready to have fun. Or to say it with a beautiful English word: gallivanting. It goes without saying that the participants are often mildly or hopelessly inebriated…
According to our examples of sheet music covers everyone could take delight of being ‘en goguette’, even cantors (chantres) or statues.
Even figures on a poster can be en goguette as can be seen in this surreal short film Affiches en goguette (The Hilarious Posters). It features a wall full of advertising posters coming to life to make fun of the French police. The film was made in 1906 by the French film maker and pioneer in special effects, George Méliès.
Nick Lucas a popular crooner and jazz guitar player introduced the song Tiptoe Through the Tulips in the film Gold Diggers of Broadway. Nick Lucas was the first to make guitar playing into an act. In 1922, while others were still playing ukuleles, mandolins and banjos, Lucas made the first solo jazz guitar record for Pathé.
Gold Diggers of Broadway was a 1929 Warner Brothers popular musical film, a remake of the 1919 play Gold Diggers. Warner Brothers had already made a silent version of the play in 1923 but that film got completely lost. Apart from a few minutes, found in England in the late eighties and including the song Tiptoe Through the Tulips, the 1929 film remake was also lost. Luckily the entire soundtrack of the film survived on Vitaphone track. Gold Diggers of Broadway was a lavish, all-Technicolor musical. It was one of I929’s biggest hits. It was a stage-show-within-a-show to cope with the many musical numbers combined with romance and gags. The plot centers around some New York chorus girls desperately seeking a wealthy husband. The optimistic film premiered just before the big Wall Street Crash of October 1929.
The newspaper The Daily Oklahoman used the still above to announce ‘the first all-talking, all-singing, all-dancing, and all natural color photoplay’ in Oklahoma. As if that wasn’t enough, it added: ‘with a chorus of 100 dazzling beauties!’. The joyful dancing girl from the still was also used to enliven the front of the film poster. We already published another version of the film poster, together with a Nick Lucas sheet music cover (see our ‘Cryin’ For The Carolines’ post).
Now, listen and see Nick Lucas perform his serenade, Tiptoe Through the Tulips. Standing under a huge moon he sings with a soft, sweet, appealing voice. If you don’t have time to view the full serenade-at-the-balcony and the little tap-dance, be sure to fast-forward to minute 3 in order not to miss the magic moment of the chorus-girl appearing out of the tulips in the giant greenhouse. Tiptoe Through the Tulips was actually written for this film by Joseph Burke and Al Dubin. It was among the first recordings to sell over two million discs as did the sheet music. Nonetheless the film was no springboard to a film career for Nick Lucas.
Forty years later, in the late 60s, Tiny Tim (1932-1996) made an infamous version of Tiptoe Through the Tulips in his typical high falsetto tenor. In 1969 when Tiny Tim married a 17-year old girl live on The Tonight Show, Nick Lucas sang Tiptoe Through the Tulips for him with an audience of 40 million television viewers.
Tiptoe Through the Tulips was also used in Warner Brothers’ very first Looney Tunes cartoon, starring Bosko in 1930. The playful instrumental version of our song starts at around 1:35. Enjoy !
The ‘Cipria’ slow fox-trot sheet music is publicity for a perfumed face powder sold by Gi.vi.emme. Cipria is the Italian word for face powder. Gi.vi.emme, after the initials of its founder Count Giuseppe Visconti di Modrone, was one of the largest perfume houses during the twenties and thirties in Italy.
Giuseppe belonged to the Visconti dynasty, that combined one of the oldest Italian aristocratic families with a great Milanese industrial empire. Although Giuseppe was openly bisexual, he married the elegant daughter of a pharmaceutical and cosmetics industrialist, Carla Erba. The couple got seven children, one of whom would become the famous film director Luchino Visconti (Death in Venice, The Damned, The Leopard, …). The family owned some marvellous palaces which would eventually be used by Visconti in his films to recreate the splendour of his own childhood.
Giuseppe and Carla belonged to the circle of King Vittorio Emanuele III and his wife Queen Helena. Giuseppe even became gentleman-in-waiting to the queen and some say he became her lover. Apparently also Carla had extra marital relations. The Visconti couple was said to live apart. The composers Toscanini and Puccini were their friends, but also the music editor Ricordi and the novelist Gabriele D’Annunzio.
Giuseppe Visconti was a person with eclectic interests. Noblesse oblige: he became patron of the arts, was on the board of directors of the Scala, and managed several theatres. He himself was an amateur actor and liked to put on make up and dress as a woman. The Viscontis enjoyed a private theatre not only in their Milanese palazzo but also in their monumental villa near Lake Como.
In the first years of the 20th century the romantic Giuseppe Visconti created from some hovels and old stables surrounding a castle falling into ruin, a complete and totally faked but charming medieval village. This place called Grazzano Visconti, near Milan, can still be visited today.
Giuseppe also was director of Inter Milan and an entrepreneur. Asked by his father in law, Giuseppe started to create perfumes. He was so taken by mixing fragrances that he started his own firm: Gi.vi.emme. After the March on Rome in 1922 by which Mussolini came to power in Italy, industrialists felt optimistic to become leaders in their speciality. So did Gi.vi.emme. It wanted to create a new perfume representative of the revolutionary times. To this end they held one of the first nation-wide marketing researches in Italy. The survey took months and as a result Gi.vi.emme created a new fragrance. The writer and family friend Gabriele d’Annuncio tried the perfume and named it Giacinto innamorato, after its main component: the scent of hyacinths.
The brand name Giacinto innamorato is of course also noticeable on the ‘Cipria’ sheet music cover, as is the typical Gi.vi.emme signature.
The perfume flacons were packaged and designed in beautiful art-deco style with a lot of rich gold ink.
With the help of an intensive publicity campaign Giacinto Innamorato soon became known in the whole country. Soon there would follow other well-known fragrances. Gi.vi.emme stopped its activity in 1970.
We’ll end this post with an extract from Luchino Visconti’s last film I’Innocente (1976) based on a novel by family friend Gabriele d’Anniunzio. Although Luchino Visconti had Marxist principles, no one was in a better position than him to portrait the elegance and lavishness of the Italian aristocracy as well as their decadence and irresponsibility. The sumptuous costumes and settings were a second nature to him.