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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.

Director:

Gjon Mili
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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 George 'Red' Callender ... Himself - on Bass (as Red Callender)
Harry Edison Harry Edison ... Himself - on Trumpet
Marlowe Morris Marlowe Morris ... Himself - on Piano
Sidney Catlett ... Himself - on Drums
Barney Kessel Barney Kessel ... Himself - on Guitar
Jo Jones ... Himself - on Drums (as Joe Jones)
John Simmons John Simmons ... Himself - on Bass
Illinois Jacquet Illinois Jacquet ... Himself - on Tenor Sax
Marie Bryant Marie Bryant ... Herself - Singer and Dancer
Archie Savage Archie Savage ... Himself - Dancer
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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 | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

5 May 1944 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Играя блюз See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Director Gjon Mili had been an award-winning still photographer for Life magazine but had never made a movie before. See more »

Connections

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

Soundtracks

On the Sunny Side of the Street
(1930) (uncredited)
Music by Jimmy McHugh
Lyrics by Dorothy Fields
Performed by Lester Young, George 'Red' Callender, Harry Edison, Marlowe Morris, Sidney Catlett and Barney Kessel with vocals by Marie Bryant
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Great "one-of-a-kind" experimental short from a mainstream studio
2 May 2009 | by jlewis77-1See 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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