6.8/10
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2 user

Ben Bernie and All the Lads (1923)

The Ben Bernie and All the Lads band, featuring pianist Oscar Levant, perform songs by Vincent Youmans and George Gershwin in a short film produced in the DeForest Phonofilm sound-on-film process.

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The Ben Bernie and All the Lads band, featuring pianist Oscar Levant, perform songs by Vincent Youmans and George Gershwin in a short film produced in the DeForest Phonofilm sound-on-film process.

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Short | Music

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15 April 1923 (USA)  »

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It's a shame Ben Bernie and his band isn't well known today
24 February 2015 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

I have watched hundreds of early jazz recordings and found this very, very early one from Lee DeForest to be among the most enjoyable-- though it's from a band that is practically forgotten.

Ben Bernie and All the Lads perform three songs as well as a medley. According to IMDb, this film is about 7 minutes long, but that's without the medley. Perhaps this wasn't part of the original film--though I strongly suspect that the running time is just incorrect. All the songs they do masterfully and it's the sort of thing you just cannot help listening to without tapping your feet or bobbing your head--very peppy and fun. I particularly liked their rendition of "Sweet Georgia Brown" as well as "Craving"--but ALL of it is excellent.

So why, if this is so amazingly good did I only score it an 8? Well the band simply performs in front of a draped curtain. Also, while the wonderful humorist is there playing the piano, it's a bit hard to see him and he's often obstructed by his bandmates. Still, all in all it's a lot of fun. A wonderful time capsule thanks to DeForest's experiment with sound films.


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