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Reading this man's biography the only question I have is, why hasn't
Hollywood snapped up this story?
This ten minute musical short is a tribute to the talents of Spade Cooley who invented an art form all his own, country swing. Warner Brothers which was known as THE urban studio also had its set of films to appeal to the red state crowd. This film would be one of them, probably was on the bill with a western like San Antonio which the studio released the same year.
Cooley had an incredible life which also included a murder conviction, he killed his wife in a domestic dispute and a dramatic death almost on the point of winning his freedom with parole. Singer, songwriter, and criminal, all these are Spade Cooley.
Sounds like a great part for George Clooney.
This is one of the newest of the Vitaphone shorts--known as a "Melody
Master". These later musical shorts generally had been more straight
forward and had simpler sets and no real story to tie it all
together--just a famous band of the day doing their stuff. However,
starting during the war years these shorts began to have a narrator and
purported to give a bit of background on the band leader.
Spade Cooley was a country western band leader who looked a bit like Roy Rogers--which is interesting as the two had worked together. There wasn't that much background information on him--but I can fill in with information on his later life (at the end of this review). The set looked like the front of an old general store and the sound and look of this short is very, very similar to one featuring Bob Willis the year before this one. However, it included some very bad stock footage that just didn't fit (it was grainy). All in all, if you love this country western music that sounds like Gene Autry and Roy Rogers music, you'll be happy. I felt it was all pretty ordinary, but as I am not a fan of the music my opinion is less than informed.
Here is a bit more information. Donnell Clyde Cooley's career ended when he was convicted of murdering wife! He apparently beat her to death in front of their daughter! As a result, he spent a decade in prison before he died. Pretty weird.
Pleasant but innocuous short with a swing band called Spade Cooley
doing their thing while an assortment of film clips from Warner films
(beginning with "Dodge City") are used to illustrate some western
The Spade Cooley orchestra bears a little resemblance to the Spike Jones sort of band, with various singers doing their turn in comical style as members of the band.
It gets off to a jaunty start with a song called "Who Killed The Goose That Laid The Golden Egg?" before the scene shifts to a rodeo sequence and a change of tempo. There's a dude ranch scene at night around a campfire with a romantic ballad sung by a man in cowboy garb. Then we shift to an old-fashioned square dance and the barn is alive with lively dance music and a gal singer who does a fancy yodeling job.
And finally, the band hits the airwaves with a network radio show with the band introduced as "Spade Cooley, the King of Western Swing." A lively number and "The End" flashes on the screen.
Nothing special, but just a filler between double features in the '40s.
Spade Cooley: KIng of Western Swing (1945)
*** (out of 4)
Warner short takes a look at the rising popularity of Space Cooley who mixed the country and swing genres. I guess we'd call this music bluegrass today but this short delivers us a couple performances as well as some funny visuals. For the most part this is just an extended music video with one setting being a country dance and another having Cooley playing both sides of a political rally. The music itself is pretty good with the catchy "Who Killed the Goose Who Laid the Golden Egg" really standing out. The rest of the tracks on the soundtrack and good but nothing comes close to that title. Cooley and his band members seem very relaxed on the screen and I really look forward to the other shorts they did.
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