And now we finally get to the jewel of the collection, Mississippi. From 1935, the film pairs Bing Crosby with comedy icon W.C. Fields. It was directed by some guy named A. Edward Sutherland and is based on a Booth Tarkington story, but you wouldn’t tell. The story – Bing needs to earn his honor (a.k.a.: grow a pair) so he can sweep the girl he loves off her feet – is really secondary here. For the most part, we care about how many hilarious Fields bits can be squeezed into 73 minutes.
While in the earlier films in this set, Bing often was shoved to the side, here he gets much more time and doesn’t have to sing the same three songs repeatedly. There’s some great Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart songs. He also gets to sing “Swanee” throughout. Amazingly, Bing gets to be an action hero. Mississippi is probably the only Bing movie with a brawl in the middle of a song. Right after killing a guy, he gets right back on stage to finish and sing with blood dripping from the corner of his mouth.
Mississippi does feature some classic Fields bits. Personally, I find it hilarious that he wears a hat that reads “CAPTAIN” in the entire movie. (Although, he does get to wear his familiar top hat in some scenes.) There’s also this amazing running gag where he has to have a drink in his hand in every scene.
Joan Bennett also gives a good performance as Bing’s love interest, but she is out of the film a lot. That’s for the best though, since we get a lot of scenes between Bing and Fields.
This is one of the films in the collection with its trailer. The movie is only available in this set, but it’s still worth it. Mississippi is not some hidden gem, but it’s a blast to see two greats you would never expect to be paired together in the same film.