Covering a quarter-century of American 'syncopated" music (Ragtime, Jazz, Swing, Blues, Boogie Woogie)from prior to WWI through prohibition, the stock-market crash, the depression and the ... See full summary »
Covering a quarter-century of American 'syncopated" music (Ragtime, Jazz, Swing, Blues, Boogie Woogie)from prior to WWI through prohibition, the stock-market crash, the depression and the outbreak of WWII. A romance between singer Kit Latimer, from New Orleans, and Johnny Schumacher, in which they share and argue over musical ideas ensues. Prior to the making of the film RKO held a contest for the readers of 'The Saturday Evening Post" to vote on the musicians to make up the All-American Dance Band featured in the film; the magazine's readers chose, in the above-the-title listing: Charlie Barnet, Benny Goodman, Harry James, Jack Jenney. Gene Krupa, Alvino Rey, Joe Venuti, and singer Connee Boswell. Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I suppose a script would need to be twice the length in order to smoothly bring a group of characters out of New Orleans and up the river to Chicago to parallel the development of jazz from the start of the century to World War II. So this one jumps from cliché to cliché (including some well- meaning but dated portrayals of black people) as actors meet and re-meet with a quantity of coincidence that would make Dickens shake his head. The actors sell the situations, though, under Dieterle's sure hand. (And he helps out at one point, in a short fantasy sequence, with a touch of pure old German expressionism.) Not everything is a cliché: there is a stereotype-breaking lady pianist, and there is a bitter attack on punctilious big-band jazz of the Paul Whiteman style-- a little surprising in a movie that celebrates the variety of style and interplay in black, white, southern, and urban traditions. Most of all, though, there is a soundtrack of remarkable music, including a moment that might be the most impressive tour de force by Gene Krupa ever captured on film.
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