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Jammin' the Blues (1944)

Approved  |   |  Short, Music  |  5 May 1944 (USA)
8.0
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Ratings: 8.0/10 from 532 users  
Reviews: 15 user | 2 critic

This Warner Bros. short is a jam session with several outstanding African-American jazz musicians, including Lester Young. Darkly lit and with a mood that matches the music, the film was ... See full summary »

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Title: Jammin' the Blues (1944)

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win. See more awards »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Lester Young ...
Himself - on Tenor Sax
George 'Red' Callender ...
Himself - on Bass (as Red Callender)
Harry Edison ...
Himself - on Trumpet
Marlowe Morris ...
Himself - on Piano
Sidney Catlett ...
Himself - on Drums
Barney Kessel ...
Himself - on Guitar
Jo Jones ...
Himself - on Drums (as Joe Jones)
John Simmons ...
Himself - on Bass
Illinois Jacquet ...
Himself - on Tenor Sax
Marie Bryant ...
Herself - Singer and Dancer
Archie Savage ...
Himself - Dancer
Edit

Storyline

This Warner Bros. short is a jam session with several outstanding African-American jazz musicians, including Lester Young. Darkly lit and with a mood that matches the music, the film was groundbreaking in its day and was a showcase for then lesser-known musicians and entertainers who would not otherwise have had exposure to a much larger audience. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Short | Music

Certificate:

Approved
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

5 May 1944 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Clips from this short were used in U2's music video for "Angel of Harlem". See more »

Connections

Featured in Added Attractions: The Hollywood Shorts Story (2002) See more »

Soundtracks

Jammin' the Blues
(uncredited)
Written by Lester Young
Performed by Lester Young and group, with Marie Bryant and Archie Savage doing the jitterbug
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Great "one-of-a-kind" experimental short from a mainstream studio
2 May 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Each of the major studios cranked out jazzy one-reelers throughout the thirties and forties (with Universal taking the lead). While most looked as cheap on screen as they were to make, Warner Bros. (which abruptly stopped making them in 1946) often distinguished theirs with offbeat camera angles, mirrors and optical effects, thanks to some creative directors like Jean Negulesco. It is fitting that the best of this genre should come from this studio.

What sets "Jammin' The Blues" apart from the rest of the pack is that it more closely resembles an avant-garde experiment than a Hollywood musical. Filmed in July 1944, it transforms an ordinary jam session into a "trippy" dream-escape from war-time troubles, highlighted by the tune of "On The Sunny Side Of The Street". Gjon Mili and cameraman Robert Burkes (later to work with Hitchcock) were allowed plenty of artistic freedom, perhaps because Lester Young was not Glenn Miller and the studio could care less how he and his fellow musicians were presented. The optical printer is put to good use, with multiple images of the same performer appearing at once. (Norman McLaren really milked this process two decades later in "Pas De Deux", while Linwood Dunn's team achieved different effects in "Citizen Kane".) The strong emphasis on silhouettes and lit cigarette smoke was also ahead of its time; in some ways, this predated the psychedelic sixties, but with a distinctly forties film noir style.


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