In this all-black cast short, legendary blues singer Bessie Smith finds her gambler lover Jimmy messin' with a pretty, younger woman; he leaves and she sings the blues, with chorus and ... See full summary »
A husband who listens to jazz instead of mopping the floor is brained with a mop by his wife; he dreams he's King of Jazzmania, a land of soapsuds where Louis Armstrong performs 'I'll Be ... See full summary »
Fanny Belle DeKnight,
Duke Ellington plays his symphonic jazz piece ('A Rhapsody of Negro Life') with his orchestra against slice-of-life background scenes. The four movements: 1) The Laborers, 2) A Triangle: ... See full summary »
Duke Ellington Orchestra,
If you're a fan of shorts then you've probably seen dozens of musical ones where jazz or swing music is shown. Many of these shorts in the 30s and 40s might have been viewed by people in a theater who had no idea what the genre was and this interesting Paramount film uses Artie Lang to introduce swing music to those unfamiliar with it. The film starts off showing an empty stage where the musicians are one by one thrown in and their job is explained to the viewer. We're informed of the instruments they play and how various items are mixed in order to try and create an unique sound, which is certainly wanted. After the introductions Artie Shaw comes out and performs a couple numbers. I've seen countless swing shorts but not one like this. There's certainly nothing ground-breaking here but I found the entire thing to be pretty interesting and even as someone familiar with the genre I still found the short to contain some nice information that I really hadn't thought of before. The look of the film is quite simple as it was obviously shot without much of a budget but the music is very good and the documentary-like nature makes it somewhat unique.
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