18 user 2 critic

Jammin' the Blues (1944)

Approved | | Short, Music | 5 May 1944 (USA)
Created under the guidance of jazz impresario and Verve Records founder Norman Granz, this short captures the spontaneity of a jam session and is one of few film records of black jazzers of the day including tenor sax legend Lester Young.



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


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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
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


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


Short | Music


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

5 May 1944 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Играя блюз  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Reportedly, during the filming of this short Bette Davis and Humphrey Bogart paid a visit to the set and observed filming (hearing that something great was happening). According to one musician, Bogart came up to him and said "Are you getting paid good money for this? If you aren't, you should strike!" See more »


Referenced in Sweet and Lowdown (1999) See more »


Midnight Symphony
Written by Lester Young
Performed by Lester Young, George 'Red' Callender, Harry Edison, Marlowe Morris, and Sidney Catlett
See more »

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User Reviews

I'm not into the blues, but boy did they make the most of this film.
20 September 2009 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

I can see why this film was Oscar-nominated for Best Live Action Short, as it was constructed masterfully. Even if you don't particularly like the Blues, you can easily appreciate this film. It is simply very well made, though for the life of me, I can't see why director Gjon Mili only got to direct one film--this one. In other words, the film is nominated and yet the director didn't get any sort of career boost. As for the black performers, I could understand this not causing their careers to shift into high gear, as unfortunately most of white society have indifference (or worse) for blacks or "that kind of music".

If you do watch this film, if you aren't particularly enjoying the earlier portion, skip ahead to about the 5:50 mark--where it picks up considerably. When the lady stopped singing and the performers began to improvise, the pace improved quite a bit.

UPDATE: I saw this short once again and was MUCH more impressed the second time. That's because I just finished watching an 11 hour DVD collection of the Vitaphone musical shorts and it was by far the best in the set--mostly due to director Gjon Mili's brilliant touch. See this one!!

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