Double or Nothing (1937 film)

Last updated
Double or Nothing
Double or Nothing 1937 Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Theodore Reed
Written by
Story byM. Coates Webster
Produced by Benjamin Glazer
Cinematography Karl Struss
Edited byEdward Dmytryk
Music by
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • September 17, 1937 (1937-09-17)(USA)
Running time
90 minutes
CountryUnited States

Double or Nothing is a 1937 American musical comedy film directed by Theodore Reed and starring Bing Crosby, Martha Raye, Andy Devine, Mary Carlisle and William Frawley. [1] Based on a story by M. Coates Webster, the film is about a dying millionaire who instructs his lawyer to drop four purses on the streets of New York City, which are found and returned by four honest people. According to the will, each of them is given five thousand dollars, which they must double within thirty days in order to claim one million dollars. Greedy relatives, who were cut from the will, try to thwart each one's plans. The film features the popular song "The Moon Got in My Eyes".



Eccentric millionaire philanthropist Axel Clark wishes to prove that all people are essentially honest and good. Following his death and as a provision of his will, his lawyers drop wallets on the streets of town that each have $100 in them, with information for contacting the lawyers. The four honest people who return the wallets then find themselves unexpectedly in a sort-of lottery. Each person is given $5000 and the first person who could double that sum within one month, through honest means, would inherit Clark's entire estate. Otherwise, the entire estate would go to Clark's greedy brother, who is determined to thwart the plan.

Liza Lou Lane has the toughest time of it. An ex-burlesque stripper, she automatically undresses herself whenever she hears her old theme music being played. The greedy relatives place an orchestra on a flatbed truck and follow her around town, looking for embarrassing situations to get her into.



Filmed in Hollywood from April 26 to June 15, 1937. The New York premiere was on September 1, 1937. [3]


The New York Times - "It is a tuneful show with three numbers better than average—"It’s the Natural Thing to Do”, “It’s On, It’s Off” and “The Moon Got in My Eyes”—but a show which lacks buoyance and sparkle, perhaps because of unimaginative direction....Although Bing delivers five songs in his customary agreeable voice and makes a pleasant enough suitor for the fair Mary Carlisle, it is really the explosive Miss Raye, the madcap adagio dance team of Ames and Arno and the Calgary Brothers (specialists in inebriation) who provide the brighter moments." [4]

Variety - "Bing Crosby and Martha Raye are teamed again in Double or Nothing which should give the film big first run sendoffs, as their names are potent on marquees. . . This is not the first time that Crosby has carried a heavy load on his broad shoulders. Point is, can he keep on doing it indefinitely? He is strictly a personality, just passing fair as an actor, but his croon is unique and the wide radio exploitation he has keeps him a valuable asset for theaters. He needs carefully selected vehicles in which his share of the entertainment obligations is limited to his particular talents. . . Value of the Crosby warble is dimmed because he sings in nearly every episode in which he appears. Some of it is so casual that his major effort near the end of the picture falls rather flat." [5]

The Washington Post - "That gorgeous rowdy-dow, Martha Raye, divides honors evenly with Bing Crosby, now undisputed king of the musicals, his mere crooner days forgotten...Bing Crosby was never better and this critic thinks never so good, as in Double or Nothing. This is praise with a vengeance. But when you see Monsieur Crosby dancing with Mary Carlisle and warbling such numbers as “Smarty”, “It’s the Natural Thing to Do”, “All You Want to Do Is Dance” and “After You” — well, we’ll wager a plugged nickel against a double eagle that you’ll agree. Bing is one of the few Hollywoodites who ripens mellowly." [6]


Bing Crosby recorded several of the songs for Decca Records. [8] "The Moon Got in My Eyes" topped the charts of the day for four weeks and "It's the Natural Thing to Do" reached the No. 2 position. [9] His songs were also included in the Bing's Hollywood series.


The song, "It's The Natural Thing to Do" later adapted as a Popeye cartoon in 1939 produced by Fleischer Studios for Paramount Pictures.

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">1937 in music</span> Overview of the events of 1937 in music

This is a list of notable events in music that took place in the year 1937.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Johnny Burke (lyricist)</span> Musical artist

John Francis Burke was an American lyricist, successful and prolific between the 1920s and 1950s. His work is considered part of the Great American Songbook.

<i>Road to Rio</i> 1947 film by Norman Z. McLeod, Jack Rose

Road to Rio is a 1947 American semimusical comedy film directed by Norman Z. McLeod and starring Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, and Dorothy Lamour. Written by Edmund Beloin and Jack Rose, the film is about two inept vaudevillians who stow away on a Brazilian-bound ocean liner and foil a plot by a sinister hypnotist to marry off her niece to a greedy fortune hunter. Road to Rio was the fifth of the "Road to …" series.

<i>The Hollywood Palace</i> American television variety series

The Hollywood Palace is an hourlong American television variety show broadcast Saturday nights on ABC from January 4, 1964, to February 7, 1970. Titled The Saturday Night Hollywood Palace for its first few weeks, it began as a midseason replacement for The Jerry Lewis Show, another variety show, which lasted only three months.

<i>Waikiki Wedding</i> 1937 film by Frank Tuttle

Waikiki Wedding is a 1937 American musical film directed by Frank Tuttle and starring Bing Crosby, Bob Burns, Martha Raye, and Shirley Ross. Crosby plays the part of Tony Marvin, a PR man charged with extolling the virtues of the Territory of Hawaii. The female lead, played by Shirley Ross is a local beauty queen who makes unhelpful comments about the islands. Bob Burns, along with Martha Raye, are the "comic relief". Amongst the supporting cast was a young Anthony Quinn. It was made by Paramount Pictures as a rival to the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers films then being made by RKO Pictures.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mary Carlisle</span> American actress

Mary Carlisle was an American actress, singer, and dancer, best known for her roles as a wholesome ingénue in numerous 1930s musical-comedy films.

Arthur James Johnston was an American composer, conductor, pianist and arranger.

<i>A Tribute to Bing Crosby</i> 1994 studio album by Mel Tormé

A Tribute to Bing Crosby is a 1994 studio album by Mel Tormé, recorded as a tribute to the singer Bing Crosby.

<i>Bing: A Musical Autobiography</i> 1954 studio album by Bing Crosby

Bing: A Musical Autobiography was Bing Crosby's fourth Decca vinyl LP, recorded and released in 1954.

<i>Sing You Sinners</i> (film) 1938 film by Claude Binyon, Wesley Ruggles

Sing You Sinners is a 1938 American musical comedy film directed by Wesley Ruggles and starring Bing Crosby, Fred MacMurray, Ellen Drew, and Donald O'Connor. Written by Claude Binyon, the film is about three singing brothers who go to California to find their fortune. Initially the film was to be titled "The Unholy Beebes" and then "Harmony for Three" before finishing with "Sing You Sinners". Filming took place in April/May 1938 in Hollywood. Race track scenes were filmed at the Pomona Fairgrounds and at Santa Anita using two dozen of Crosby's horses. Sing You Sinners was premiered on August 5, 1938 at the Del Mar racetrack with the New York premiere taking place on August 16.

<i>Rhythm on the River</i> 1940 film by Victor Schertzinger

Rhythm on the River is a 1940 musical comedy film directed by Victor Schertzinger and starring Bing Crosby and Mary Martin as ghostwriters whose songs are credited to a composer played by Basil Rathbone. Crosby and Martin sang "Only Forever", for which James V. Monaco (music) and Johnny Burke (lyrics) were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song.

<i>Pennies from Heaven</i> (1936 film) 1936 film by Norman Z. McLeod, Jo Swerling

Pennies From Heaven is a 1936 American musical comedy film directed by Norman Z. McLeod and starring Bing Crosby, Madge Evans, and Edith Fellows.

<i>If I Had My Way</i> (film) 1940 American film

If I Had My Way is a 1940 musical comedy film directed by David Butler and starring Bing Crosby and Gloria Jean. Based on a story by David Butler, the film is about a construction worker who takes charge of the daughter of a friend killed in an accident.

Rhythm on the Range is a 1936 American Western musical film directed by Norman Taurog and starring Bing Crosby, Frances Farmer, and Bob Burns. Based on a story by Mervin J. Houser, the film is about a cowboy who meets a beautiful young woman while returning from a rodeo in the east, and invites her to stay at his California ranch to experience his simple, honest way of life. Rhythm on the Range was Crosby's only Western film and introduced two western songs, "Empty Saddles" by Billy Hill and "I'm an Old Cowhand " by Johnny Mercer, the latter becoming a national hit song for Crosby. The film played a role in familiarizing its audience with the singing cowboy and Western music on a national level.

<i>Rosie Sings Bing</i> 1978 studio album by Rosemary Clooney

Rosie Sings Bing is a 1978 studio album by the American jazz singer Rosemary Clooney, recorded in tribute to Bing Crosby, who had died the previous year. The album was the second Clooney made for Concord Records.

<i>Too Much Harmony</i> 1933 film by A. Edward Sutherland

Too Much Harmony is a 1933 American black-and-white pre-Code musical film directed by A. Edward Sutherland and starring Bing Crosby, Jack Oakie, Richard "Skeets" Gallagher, Harry Green, and Judith Allen. It was released by Paramount Pictures.

<i>Top o the Morning</i> (1949 film) 1949 film by David Miller

Top o' the Morning is a 1949 American romantic comedy film directed by David Miller and starring Bing Crosby, Ann Blyth, and Barry Fitzgerald. Written by Edmund Beloin and Richard L. Breen, the film is about a singing insurance investigator who comes to Ireland to recover the stolen Blarney Stone—and romance the local policeman's daughter.

<i>Doctor Rhythm</i> 1938 film by Frank Tuttle

Doctor Rhythm is a 1938 American musical comedy film directed by Frank Tuttle and starring Bing Crosby, Mary Carlisle, Beatrice Lillie, and Andy Devine. Based on the 1907 short story The Badge of Policeman O'Roon by O. Henry, the film is about a doctor who pretends to be a policeman assigned as the bodyguard of a wealthy matron, whose beautiful niece becomes the object of his affections. The film features the songs "On the Sentimental Side" and "My Heart Is Taking Lessons".

Bing Crosby Sings with Al Jolson, Bob Hope, Dick Haymes and the Andrews Sisters is a Bing Crosby Decca Records studio 78rpm album of phonograph records featuring Crosby with several of Decca's top artists.

Elsie Ames was an American comic dancer and film actress. Between 1937 and 1974 she acted in 15 films. She is best known as the female film partner of Buster Keaton.


  1. "Double or Nothing". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved September 2, 2012.
  2. "Full cast and crew for Double or Nothing". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved September 2, 2012.
  3. Macfarlane, Malcolm. "Bing Crosby - Day by Day". BING magazine. Retrieved December 29, 2015.
  4. "The New York Times". September 2, 1937.{{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  5. "Variety". August 18, 1937.{{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  6. "The Washington Post". September 18, 1937.{{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  7. "Soundtracks for Double or Nothing". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved September 2, 2012.
  8. "A Bing Crosby Discography". A Bing Crosby Discography. Retrieved December 29, 2015.
  9. Whitburn, Joel (1986). Pop Memories 1890-1954 . Wisconsin, USA: Record Research Inc. p.  106. ISBN   0-89820-083-0.