Comic film star and singer Betty Hutton was known as "the blonde bombshell" for her hair color and her manic performing style, but that nickname has occasioned some redundancy in her discography, at least in terms of album titles. Note, therefore, that British reissue label Jasmine Records' two-CD set The Blonde Bombshell in Hollywood is not to be confused with AEI's A Blonde Bombshell, Collectors' Choice's Hollywood's Blonde Bombshell, or Living Era's The Blonde Bombshell (the last released only a month before the Jasmine collection, no less). Distinguishing between these similarly named discs is especially important because their contents differ; specifically, the Collectors' Choice album is drawn from airchecks, the Living Era one consists largely of studio recordings, and the Jasmine discs are taken almost entirely from the actual soundtracks of Hutton's films. Of the 50 tracks with a total running time of over two hours, 49 are soundtrack recordings. Only "The Jitterbug," the second track on disc one, is a studio recording, drawn from Hutton's debut single for Bluebird Records when she was the singer in Vincent Lopez's orchestra. Otherwise, the collection, compiled by Geoff Milne, comes from 14 cinematic efforts featuring Hutton, starting with an unnamed short subject from the late '30s and running through 1952's Somebody Loves Me, the last film Hutton made on her Paramount Pictures contract.
Concurrently with her movie career, Hutton was also a recording artist, bouncing back and forth between Capitol and RCA Victor Records, and she scored chart hits with many of the songs she was singing in her movies (e.g., "It Had to Be You," "His Rocking Horse Ran Away," "Doctor, Lawyer, Indian Chief," "I Wish I Didn't Love You So"). The renditions of those songs found here are not the ones fans heard on her records; they are the ones they heard in movie theaters. But other compilations have contained the studio recordings. The value of this lengthy set is that it presents all those movie songs Hutton did not record, many of which are just as impressive as the ones she did. A unique talent, she could purr through a torchy romantic ballad with the best of them, but her specialty was what she called "crazy songs," novelty material that showcased her talent for raucous, energetic performance and tapped her onomatopoeic gift, to the point of using words like "bang," "boom," and "crash" unreservedly. She was abetted by some of the best songwriters in the business, who crafted songs especially for her -- particularly Frank Loesser and the team of Johnny Burke and Jimmy Van Heusen. This album contains more examples of such special material than any previous Hutton collection, but it is also curiously incomplete. Milne, in his liner notes, refers in passing to the films Cross My Heart and Annie Get Your Gun, but he never acknowledges that there are no songs from them on the album. That sort of omission, of course, is one of the downsides of unlicensed collections like this, along with sound quality that is some cases a little rough. Even so, The Blonde Bombshell in Hollywood, while it may have a title like a lot of other Betty Hutton compilation albums, stands out from its competition.