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Another Country, Another World

Sat May 28, 2016 11:34 pm

Another Country, Another World-the 1930’s #1

It was L.P. Davies in the first line of his classic novel The Go Between who said that “the past is another country. They do things differently there.” The differences are real enough-different clothes, different music, different ways of speaking, different points of view. However, the past is more than just another country, it’s a long line of different worlds separated from each other by time rather than by a cold, airless vacuum. The separation is far from complete. In any of the worlds of the past one can see lingering traces of the worlds that were and faint hints of the worlds that are yet to be.

Each of these worlds is far more vivid and astonishing than any world to be found in a fantasy novel. This is unsurprising. Since William Morris and such contemporaries from throughout the British Isles as George MacDonald, Arthur Machen, and Lord Dunsany invented the genre, all fantasy worlds have been based on the real worlds of the historical past, usually medieval Europe. Of all the worlds of the past, the one I find most fascinating is the 1930’s. Its styles, its music, its films, its literature and the two great historic crises that defined it-the Great Depression and the rise of fascism-are endlessly compelling and thought-provoking. It was a place and time of magnificent cultural flowering and overwhelming economic and political catastrophe. With such a setting, it is no wonder that Wind at My Back was so colorful and engrossing. I invite all of my readers and anyone they can persuade to come with them to join me as I explore this amazing period in future columns. The following two sites provide a fairly comprehensive overview of the period.
http://xroads.virginia.edu/~1930s2/Time/timefr.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1930s

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Re: Another Country, Another World

Thu Jun 02, 2016 1:17 am

Another Country, Another World-the 1930’s #2-Cliffhangers

Every Saturday morning, kids around the world sat in their seats in the local theater, cokes and popcorn in hand, and waited to see not just one film and a handful of previews, but an entire program of films. Besides the previews and the main feature-often a b-western featuring singing cowboys such as Gene Autry and Roy Rogers, they were treated to a short subject such as Our gang aka the Little Rascals, a newsreel, a second feature, and, most importantly, a chapter of a serial. Each chapter would feature a suspenseful struggle between a stalwart hero and a ruthless villain. A good serial featured breathtaking action ending with the hero, the heroine, or both facing certain death. At that point, the audience was invited to come back next week to see if he, she, or they survived. This was the cliffhanger.

Some cliffhangers such as the hero in a runaway car going over a cliff or a burning building collapsing on the hero were used so often they became standard. In the best serials, the cliffhangers were more imaginative than that. I remember Lon Chaney Sr. as an evil henchman in Chapter 8 of Undersea Kingdom-Into the Metal Tower, gleefully attempting to ram the barred gates of a fortified city in an armored car-with the hero, Ray “Crash” Corrigan tied to the front. Then there was the cliffhanger that some consider the greatest of them all. In Chapter 1 of Daredevils of the Red Circle-The Monstrous Plot, one of the heroes is racing on a motorbike down a tunnel under the bay. The ceiling has broken through and a wall of water is roaring towards him from behind. In only seconds it will overtake him. You see why kids kept coming back week after week for the twelve, thirteen, or fifteen weeks it took for a serial to finish its run. For anyone who wants to see for himself or herself what serials were all about Ace Drummond will be starting this coming Saturday on Turner Classic Movies. Ace Drummond isn’t a masterpiece of the genre, but it is a fun, fast-moving adventure with all the classic elements and some enjoyably off-the-wall touches such as the hero bursting into song in the crowded passenger section of an airliner and the ominous line spoken by the villain at the end of every chapter. Both the American and Canadian schedules are below.
http://www.tcm.com/schedule/index.html? ... 2016-06-04
http://www.tcm.com/schedule/canada/inde ... 2016-06-04

For more information on the men and women who made the serials and on the serials themselves, I recommend the following site put together by a longtime serial aficionado as a labor of love.
https://filesofjerryblake.com/

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Re: Another Country, Another World

Tue Jun 07, 2016 11:39 pm

Another Country, Another World-the 1930's #3 Donald Duck

The Five Best Duck Artists

I don't pretend that this list is the final word on the subject. Others may believe that some talented artists have been left off the list who should be on it and/or that one or some of the artists on it should be ranked differently. What follows is simply my own opinion of the work of five extremely talented artists.

5. William Van Horn-probably the best duck artist from a purely illustrative standpoint. His finely etched line work is a joy to the eye and he is a first rate comic storyteller as well. The fact that there were four artists who were better at telling Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck stories than him gives an idea of just how deep the bench of talent has always been when it comes to Walt Disney comic books and comic strips.

4. Romano Scarpa-The Italian master who drew Donald and Uncle Scrooge for three decades. See the reprint of his and writer Osvaldo Pavese's 1966 triumph Vicious Cycle in IDW Donald Duck #12 for an example of just how unrelentingly funny he could be at his best.

3. Don Rosa-Carl Barks' rightful successor to the mantle of Good Duck Artist. His art is nearly as gorgeous to look at as Van Horn's. He is often funnier than Scarpa and has just that little bit more heart than either of them. See the story in which Donald Duck compares himself unfavorably to his nephews' favorite comic book superhero Superduck for a prime example of all these qualities.

2. Al Taliaferro-One of the greatest gag strip artists of the twentieth century. His peers were Percy Crosby, Charles Schultz, Parker and Hart, Chic Stone, and Ernie Bushmiller. He perfected the classic character of Donald Duck as the hapless, hot-tempered little guy. He also began the process of giving Donald his own supporting cast by creating his nephews Huey, Louie, and Dewey.

1. Carl Barks-Who else? One of the great geniuses of the comic book form. No one else on this list was as original, as imaginative, or as resourceful. He could do high adventure, domestic comedy, and one page gags with equal facility. He perfected the character of Donald Duck as we know him today by making him an adventurer. He created Uncle Scrooge and most of his and Donald's supporting casts. Gyro Gearloose, Goldie Duck, Magica DeSpell, the Beagle Boys and many more. Without Barks, the Walt Disney duck universe as we know it would not have been possible.

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Re: Another Country, Another World

Sun Jun 12, 2016 3:55 am

Another Country, Another World-the 1930’s #4 The Music-Jazz at the Dawn of the Thirties

Jazz came of age in the 1930’s. It started the decade hot and ended it swinging. Louis Armstrong, the true king of jazz and the most important musician in American history, led the way.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d4z83fqXSAA

Also an important influence was the Empress of the Blues, Bessie Smith.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VCDOr6au_H8

The great Ethel Waters followed in Louis and Bessie’s footsteps, straddling the line between blues and jazz.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8I1RUM3L_Tc

Her contemporary, Annette Hansaw went for a more pop, although still blues influenced, sound.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rgOWbSkZQMo

In the previous decade, jazz had shattered the color line like nothing before it. The music started in New Orleans with great black artists like Jelly Roll Morton, Joseph “King” Oliver, and Buddy Bolden. However, it wasn’t long before whites across the world were listening to it and then playing it. The first great white jazz artists came out of New Orleans-the Original Dixieland Jazz Band and the Boswell Sisters.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-t0dX3l68Hc

They were followed by a great generation out of Chicago that included a young Benny Goodman and Eddie Condon, an underrated guitarist and peerless organizer of magnificent combos.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C8-RjaH7kIk

The music business tried to keep black and white musicians separated, but the reality was that to the most discerning fans and in the after hour jam sessions, all that mattered was how well you could play the music. By 1930, the two fathers of jazz guitar, white artist Eddie Lang and black artist Lonnie Johnson, had recorded together in a landmark session, the first with black and white jazz artists of their caliber. The record company forced Lang to record under the name Blind Willie Dunn to hide this fact, although the sides were released under his real name in Europe.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8WNL3RGxdFE

Eddie Lang was the favorite guitarist and accompanist of a young singer who started as a jazzman. He never lost his talent for or love of the music even after he moved in a more mainstream direction. His name was Bing Crosby and in the following decade he would blaze like a comet.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fvnsxpg ... lPLXNsz4GA

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Re: Another Country, Another World

Sat Jun 18, 2016 4:29 am

Another Country, Another World-the 1930’s #5 The Music-Short and Sweet.

The most popular music of the era wasn’t jazz or swing. Until the swing explosion of 1935, real jazz was a minority taste held mostly by city sophisticates. For most people, jazz was the polite, measured syncopation of Paul Whiteman.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xFurKUxafRk

Sweet music began in the big cities with the society orchestras of bandleaders such as Jack Denny and Leo Reisman. Their music was bouncy but bland.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rnFLFsDjbIk
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cPKPKbI ... x&index=13

One society bandleader who rose above the pack with his interesting, classically influenced style was Eddie Duchin.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BcpPgwcVNaA
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJtRvTCg0E8

In the early and mid 1930’s, sweet bands such as the Wayne King Orchestra, the Lawrence Welk Orchestra and Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians dominated popular music. Even after the swing bands mounted the first serious challenge to their ascendancy, some, like Lombardo and Welk, maintained enormous popularity for decades.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=keFkJ9HDHlQ
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-IuVD0ezbvQ
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XhFlIO-bEKU

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Re: Another Country, Another World

Fri Jun 24, 2016 1:33 am

Another Country, Another World-the 1930’s #6 The Music-Something From My Neck of the Woods

Traditionally, America’s worst politics and best music have come from the South. By 1930, two great styles of American music, the blues and jazz, had been born in the South and spread to the rest of the country like twin wildfires. The blues ebbed for awhile, only to be revived and reborn in Chicago during World War II on the shoulders of the second wave of the great migration of black Southerners to the North. They fled poverty, segregation, and racial violence and brought their music with them. The beginnings of what came to be called the Chicago sound can be heard in the recordings of legendary Arkansas bluesman Big Bill Broonzy. Notice the guitar/piano/horn combination in "Truckin' Little Woman." Broonzy's version of the classic gospel tune "This Train" could be an anthem of the great migration in its contempt for the old racial order that he and so many black Americans fled, especially in the last half of the song.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nTOK-Z7g6Gk
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bB_BwpyT_VA

Broonzy’s talented contemporary. Memphis Minnie also contributed greatly to the birth of the Chicago blues. You can hear the origins in the guitar/piano combination with Black Bob on the piano on "If You See My Rooster" and in the hard driving rhythm of "I'm a Bad Luck Woman."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4lNG71vqeus
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VPGzKEhQUsw

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Re: Another Country, Another World

Thu Jun 30, 2016 5:54 am

Another Country, Another World-the 1930’s #7 The Music-Something From My Neck of the Woods pt. 2

The third great style of American music to flourish in the South in the thirties was country. Originally, it was the folk music of the Appalachians brought there by the Scotch-Irish and the English from the British Isles. The joyful sound of Irish fiddle music can be heard in two classic Appalachian tunes, "Cotton Eyed Joe" and "Dry Bones."
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TFG9eVbkq70
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLAavP5DPeU

Echoes of tragic English ballads can be heard in "Pretty Polly."
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UxkSuBhzHqg

That original folk stream wound its way through minstrel tunes, hymns, and, as it moved into the Black Belt of the deep South, the blues. Its earliest stars out of the Appalachians were Uncle Dave Macon and the Carter Family.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p8b-Pbr ... bkLnWN9WSA
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VnQyaiGkUm0
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1nH-5DE4kzg
Last edited by Maxfan1 on Wed Jul 06, 2016 2:07 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Another Country, Another World

Wed Jul 06, 2016 2:05 am

Another Country, Another World-the 1930’s #8 The Music-Something From My Neck of the Woods pt. 3

Some of the original country music performers were black. This fact tends to be lost because the record companies would only record black artists who played the blues or jazz. However one of these great black country artists, the harmonica player DeFord Bailey, was one of the original performers on the Grand Ol’ Opry.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XxrA0-9jzHc
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZuFXcLNsWkc

The black influence on country music was strong, especially in the lower South. During the 1930’s an Alabama kid named Hank Williams was learning to play guitar from black street musician Rufus “Tee Tot” Payne. Even before that, the man who was arguably the father of country music, Mississippi legend Jimmie Rodgers, had melded blues and folk influences into a unique sound. Fortunately, Columbia Pictures caught him on film singing three of his classics only a few months before his untimely death of tuberculosis.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iyHulWOZBpk

Another influence on country music was the songs of the cowboys from Texas and points west. Texan Gene Autry, as he found fame in the movies as the first successful singing cowboy, moved from being a follower of Jimmie Rodgers towards what would become country-western.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80NoPLp-Zl0

In 1935, another Texan, Bob Wills, added horns, reeds, and drums to his string band and added a swing sound to country to create western swing.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nNP4M85 ... e&index=19

By the end of the 1930’s a Kentucky mandolin player named Bill Monroe had begun to fuse Appalachian folk music and the blues into a new and unique sound that would eventually be called bluegrass.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lIuuI00XY_Y

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Re: Another Country, Another World

Mon Jul 11, 2016 2:57 am

Another Country, Another World-the 1930’s #9 Movie Music-the Songs

The birth of the sound film guaranteed that the 1930’s would be the first great decade of music composed for the movies. The first use of new songs was the craze for waltzes to serve as the theme songs for romantic dramas. The first example, "Diane" is from Seventh Heaven (1927). The second, "Heart O' Mine," is from Noah's Ark (1928).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vzG45rHT4Xc
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fPpr0g3JsJo

The early thirties saw the birth of a very bad habit in Hollywood. Producers of screen adaptations of Broadway musicals would keep the only the two or three most popular songs from the original show and commission a bunch of new and usually inferior songs to replace the rest. The idea was that the public had already seen the Broadway musical before, so it was necessary to give them something new. This practice culminated in MGM’s 1939 evisceration of the Rogers and Hart masterpiece Babes In Arms. Classic tunes “Johnny One Note,” “My Funny Valentine,” and “I Wish I Were in Love Again” were cut. “The Lady is a Tramp” was used only as an instrumental in one scene. The less said about the arrangement for the normally haunting “Where or When” the better. Not even the considerable talents of Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland could do much with what was left. I will say that one of the replacement songs, “Good Morning” by Alan Freed and Nacio Herb Brown was good. Fourteen years later, it was used to sensational effect in a classic musical number with Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, and Donald O’Connor in Singing In the Rain.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L2hLvqKe0V8

There were other good replacement songs including the following by Joe Burke and Al Dubin from the film version of the Jerome Kern musical Sally.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZvJxXdpbsSQ

In the early thirties, the studios also hired established Broadway talents to write new musicals. Warner Brothers commissioned the operetta Viennese Nights from the already legendary Sigmund Romberg and rising talent Oscar Hammerstein who would go on to greater heights of success in partnership with Richard Rogers. As you will hear, Romberg was worthy of his legend and even then, Hammerstein had a way with a lyric. The best song was the lovely “You Will Remember Vienna.”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gylKDoIQdWo

The thirties also saw the birth of Hollywood’s own tradition of great original musicals. The spark was a sharp, funny, energetic masterpiece from Warner Brothers called 42nd Street with a terrific score by Harry Warren and Al Dubin. Neither of them were any great shakes on Broadway, but together, they would be the most successful songwriting team in the movies for the rest of the decade.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMdEqB-TB8g
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BhVeQV5HBbc

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Re: Another Country, Another World

Sun Jul 17, 2016 11:34 pm

Another Country, Another World-the 1930’s #10 Movie Music-the Scores pt. 2 The Oscars

In 1934, the category of best film score was first introduced to the Academy Awards. The winner was Louis Silvers for One Night of Love.
However, for its first four years, the best film score award was given to the head of the studio music department who was sometimes the composer for the nominated film and sometimes not. In this case, according to IMDB, Silvers did contribute to the score and therefore should have shared the award with Victor Schertzinger and Howard Jackson. Then there is the question of whether Alfred Newman, whose stock music was used in the film, should share in the Oscar as his music wasn’t specifically composed for the film. Have a headache already? Just to make things even more confusing, Max Steiner, as head of the music department for RKO, was nominated for the score for The Gay Divorcee which he didn’t compose and for the score for The Lost Patrol which he did. The Lost Patrol trailer containing some of Steiner's score is probably from a rerelease since director John Ford didn't win an Oscar until next year's The Informer.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LIb5nK_aD5E
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M3VWneQUD28

It’s probably no surprise that in 1938, the category of best score was split into two categories-best original score and best musical score. Also, both awards went to the actual composer of the score from that time forwards.

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Re: Another Country, Another World

Wed Jul 27, 2016 12:40 am

Another Country, Another World-the 1930’s #11 Movie Music-the Scores pt. 3 The Golden Age pt. 1

Sorry to take so long posting this, but I have been sick with a cold this past week. I am better now and expect to have column # 12 in by next Wednesday.

Once Max Steiner’s score for King Kong established a complete instrumental score as an essential element of classic film, the stage was set for a golden age of film scoring as part of the Golden Age of Hollywood. This age was built by the labors of four giants-Alfred Newman, Max Steiner, Franz Waxman, and Erich Wolfgang Korngold. They were not its only talented composers, but they were its dominant figures. If you heard their music, you would know it instantly. All of them generally composed highly romantic classical scores for orchestra. Experiments in smaller groupings of instruments, unusual instruments, and other genres of music came later. Newman composed mostly for Samuel Goldwyn and United Artists during the thirties. His most famous work came after 1940 at Twentieth Century Fox. He composed the instantly recognizable fanfare that plays over the studio’s classic searchlight logo at the beginning of its films.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7EIIEQpE2MU

Newman began his career with a bang by composing the score for Street Scene (1931), a vivid, Gershwin influenced piece that instantly evokes the stifling heat of summer in a crowded, bustling big city.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EuO6j7y0gYk

During the 1930’s, he was nominated for five Oscars in the best original score and best musical score categories including his vigorous, exciting work for the classic John Ford film Hurricane. Note: Having been through a couple of real hurricanes, I can testify that the harrowing storm scenes in this movie are very convincing. Unfortunately, there is no youtube posting of just the score. However, after the first couple of minutes of the preview, you can hear a substantial portion of it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CatmKnFtn-c

Max Steiner began his career as a film composer at RKO and later moved to Warner Brothers. In his Warner Bros. contract was a very important clause allowing him to work for his old RKO colleague turned independent producer David O’ Selznick. Among his better known scores are those for another John Ford picture, The Informer, The Garden of Allah-an overheated potboiler with gorgeous cinematography, Jezebel, and Dark Victory.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=slAAQVAFASQ
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZIDpmVJCBAA
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wk6I7YDf3hg
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lbOVjFZDylU

At the end of the decade he composed a little known score for a small, insignificant film you’ve probably never heard of. It was produced by David O'Selznick, though.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qr25F9t6Es

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Re: Another Country, Another World

Thu Aug 04, 2016 3:17 am

Another Country, Another World-the 1930's #12 1930's Movie Reviews

I will return to the topic of great film composers in the next column. For now, enjoy my reviews of three classic 1930's films and one from the twenties from a film review column that I post at the Tony Isabella Message Board on Facebook.

TCM Gems & Dross #34

3 Wednesday

This day is filled with some of Bing Crosby's best work, but I intend to focus on two of his lesser known films that deserve more attention than they have previously received.

6:30 PM
Rhythm on the Range (1936)
A cowboy falls for his boss, a beautiful lady ranch owner.
Dir: Norman Taurog Cast: Bing Crosby , Frances Farmer , Bob Burns .
BW-88 mins,

Fun lightweight musical comedy. Crosby is probably nobody's first choice to play a cowboy, but this movie is a good natured entertainment with no pretensions to gritty realism so his skilled underplaying and easygoing charm are more than enough to see him and the audience through in comfort and more than a little style. Frances Farmer has spirit as the ranch owner. Crosby's radio sidekick and great country comedian Bob Burns provides capable comic relief. Brief aside: Burns was the inventor of an a purely-for-laughs musical instrument called the bazooka which was the inspiration for the name of the WWII antitank weapon. The musical climax features the once-in-a-lifetime teaming of Crosby, Louis Prima, and Roy Rogers and the Sons of the Pioneers in the jazziest version of "Ragtime Cowboy Joe" you will ever hear. It's an infectious musical delight and not to be missed. Norman Taurog is no Stanley Donen or Vincent Minnelli, but directs with a solid, smooth competence that had to have been harder to achieve than he makes it look.

2:00 AM
Sing, You Sinners (1938)
A brother act is broken up by one sibling's devotion to gambling.
Dir: Wesley Ruggles Cast: Bing Crosby , Fred MacMurray , Donald O'Connor .
BW-90 mins

The previous film was a pretty good musical that deserves to be better known. This one is an unacknowledged classic well within hailing distance of the most glorious achievements of the golden age of the MGM musical or the best of Warner Bros. pre code musical classics. The reasons are a strong script, first rate acting and singing by three of the most talented performers of their era, and a terrific score. Bing Crosby and Fred MacMurray were very talented dramatic actors. Crosby is still a little underrated, his deserved Oscar nomination for The Country Girl notwithstanding. His fine work here should serve to show just how good he really was. As the middle brother, he effortlessly conveys both his character's laid back charm and his irresponsibility. Laid back characters were a specialty of Crosby's, but this one's guilt at the pain his irresponsibility causes his family is equally convincing. MacMurray would still be underrated if not for the coming of noir and the sharp casting instinct of Billy Wilder. His work here shows clearly that he was more than just an affable light comedy lead, although in that field, he was one of the best. As the responsible older brother he is believable in his slight stodginess and his deep concern for the welfare of his family. He even holds his own in the musical numbers with Crosby and, as the youngest of the three brothers, a musical comedy legend in the making. Even as a kid, Donald O'Connor was a terrific singer, dancer, and comedian.
Providing strong support are Elizabeth Patterson as the boys' loving but worried mother and the underrated Ellen Drew as Crosby's loyal girlfriend, who loves his good nature but not his unreliability. Drew is one of a number of very talented second tier Hollywood actresses like Ann Dvorak, Nina Foch, and Betsy Palmer-see Studio One-Sentence of Death and The True Story of Lynn Stuart-who consistently gave excellent performances in a variety of roles but never achieved the top stardom they deserved. The wonderful musical score includes "Pocketful of Dreams" and the Hoagie Carmichael classic "Small Fry." Director Wesley Ruggles has the skill and sensitivity to pull off the drama and the swiss watch timing to turn the musical numbers into instant classics, especially "Small Fry." Highly recommended. Do not miss.

4 Thursday

TCM pays a well deserved tribute to the great Fay Wray who had a lot more on her resume than just screaming in the arms of a giant ape.

8:00 PM
Wedding March, The (1928)
An Austrian Army officer falls for a bourgeois girl to the dismay of both their parents.
Dir: Erich von Stroheim Cast: George Fawcett , Maude George , George Nichols .
BW-110 mins, CC,

Visually stunning, emotionally powerful silent tragedy with just a touch of fin de siecle decadence as befits the milieu. Erich Von Stroheim is best known as a pioneering director. His resourceful, sensitive, deeply evocative visual storytelling here furnishes ample proof that his legendary status is well deserved. Compare his use of apple blossoms with the last scene of Maytime for an object lesson in the difference between genius and mere talent. His complex, heartfelt, genuinely moving performance as an aristocratic cavalry officer caught between true feeling and oppressive duty is highly illuminating. Along with his masterful character work in Grand Illusion and Sunset Boulevard, it proves that he was one of the finest actors of his own age or any other. There was always more to him than sneering villains, although he played those brilliantly too. As his lover, Fay Wray is deeply affecting. Throw in excellent character support from George Fawcett and Maud George as Von Stroheim's appalling parents and the result is one of the most memorable films you will ever see. A masterpiece. Do not miss.

12:00 AM
Thunderbolt (1929)
A death-row convict plots to kill the man who stole his girl.
Dir: Josef von Sternberg Cast: George Bancroft , Fay Wray , Richard Arlen .
BW-91 mins,

Haven't seen this, but it's a pioneering silent gangster movie directed by the legendary Josef Von Sternberg, so I have no hesitation recommending it sight unseen.

1:45 AM
Below The Sea (1933)
Criminals threaten a wealthy woman's underwater expedition.
Dir: Albert Rogell Cast: Ralph Bellamy , Fay Wray , Frederick Vogeding . BW-74 mins,

Rough, taut, flavorful adventure film redolent of the best of the pulps. It seems to be Columbia's less spectacular but still gripping answer to King Kong. Hard as it may be to believe if you've only seen Ralph Bellamy in the comic milquetoast roles in which he became so typed that they came to be called Ralph Bellamy roles, he spent his early years in Hollywood playing an impressive array of scrappy tough guys and was very good at it. He is completely convincing here as a hardbitten wharf rat who signs on to a dangerous expedition. As the rich, slightly spoiled socialite financing the expedition, Fay Wray gives a sexy, spirited performance and she and Bellamy strike real sparks. Vogeding is approriately ruthless as the villain out to sabotage them. Rogell provides taut, fast-paced direction that compares favorably to the best of Warner Brothers from the same period.
Note to Monster Lovers: This film has a tense climactic battle with a giant [spoiler] marked by pretty convincing special effects work.
Highly recommended, especially to lovers of pulp adventure and giant monsters.

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Re: Another Country, Another World

Mon Aug 08, 2016 4:05 am

Another Country, Another World-the 1930’s #12 Movie Music-the Scores pt. 3 The Golden Age pt. 2

The third of the great film composers of the Golden Age of Hollywood was a German Jew who fled to America after the rise of the Nazis. His first work in Hollywood was the score for the classic horror movie Bride of Frankenstein.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-0hZu4Ew4o

This score made his name as a film composer. After a short stint at Universal Pictures, he joined MGM and composed the scores for major films such as Captains Courageous and the charming, thoughtful fantasy On Borrowed Time.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fP19-5_EULo
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4aBC-TknLhA

Waxman’s greatest success lay ahead in the forties and fifties when he would contribute gripping scores to such masterpieces as Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca and Suspicion and Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard. The final composing genius of the Golden Age of Hollywood was another refugee from Hitler and fascism, the Austrian Erich Wolfgang Korngold. Before coming to Hollywood, he had a distinguished career as a classical composer, producing operas, sonatas, and a piano concerto. When he went to work for Warner Brothers he became inextricably identified with the classic swashbuckling action of the ultimate film swashbuckler Errol Flynn. Even a snatch of his music evokes sweeping high adventure. He began by drawing on the music of Franz Lizst-particularly his Prometheus-for the rousing score of Errol Flynn’s first swashbuckler, Captain Blood.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gMJBFXvCkvc

For the pinnacle of Flynn’s career and the greatest adventure film ever made, The Adventures of Robin Hood, he composed his own magnificent score.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uT6dLPfSCL8

Note: This July 1, Errol Flynn's lovely and very talented costar in Captain Blood and Robin Hood, Olivia De Havilland, celebrated her 100th birthday.

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Re: Another Country, Another World

Mon Aug 22, 2016 9:53 pm

Another Country, Another World-the 1930’s #14 The Music-The Birth of Swing pt. 1

The father of swing and leader of the first big band was Fletcher Henderson, a Georgian who like so many black Americans of his time migrated north in search of less prejudice and more opportunity. The catalyst for the birth of swing came in 1924 when he hired two of the greatest of all jazz musicians for his band, the father of jazz saxophone, Coleman Hawkins and the legendary trumpeter Louis Armstrong. Their tremendous combined talent inspired him to produce arrangements unlike anything any popular orchestra had played before.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rrLt1I-XPf4
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wz145ixrlRg

His innovations were quickly taken up by a sophisticated Washington D.C. bandleader and pianist named Duke Ellington. From his headquarters in Harlem’s Cotton Club, he slowly built on the foundation laid by Henderson to create a distinctive sound of his own. Some of his best known songs and arrangements are from the thirties, including “It Don’t Mean a Thing if it Ain’t Got that Swing,” “Mood Indigo,” and Sophisticated Lady.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YbwDRdRXP3k
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojamSYmjEs0
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mlS78aKNT0I

In Future Posts: Be here for more of the birth of swing, the coming of the swing era, and a tale of two countries.
Last edited by Maxfan1 on Tue Aug 30, 2016 1:03 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Another Country, Another World

Tue Aug 30, 2016 1:02 am

Another Country, Another World-the 1930’s #15 The Music-The Birth of Swing pt. 2 Kansas City

In the United States at the dawn of the thirties there were four great jazz cities. The music was born in New Orleans and migrated up the Mississippi River to Chicago. Big band swing was born in New York in the orchestras of Fletcher Henderson and Duke Ellington. The fourth great jazz city was Kansas City. Under the corrupt Prengergast administration, it was a wide open town where prohibition was ignored. A number of speakeasies, most of them in the African-American neighborhood around the intersection of 18th St. and Vine St. provided friendly venues for a generation of great jazz musicians. Kansas City was the second cradle of swing and its influence would be felt well into the 1950’s through the work of legendary saxophonist Charlie Parker, one of the fathers of be bop.

Kansas City’s glory days as a jazz city arguably began in 1919 when pianist Joe Sanders and drummer Carleton Coon started the Coon-Sanders Original Nighthawk Orchestra. By the end of the twenties such fast, hard-driving arrangements as “Nighthawk Blues” and “Kansas City Kitty,” had made them popular nationwide. Only Carleton Coon’s untimely death in 1932 and the subsequent decline of the orchestra prevented them reaching the heights of reputation and success achieved by later swing bandleaders.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U1cZ6tI ... 9952583895
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N09Ua3I ... 9952583895

The cause of swing in Kansas City arguably took a quantum leap forward in 1929 when pianist Benny Moten hired three jazz legends in the making for his band. The first two were bassist Walter Page and trumpeter Oran “Hot Lips” Page. The third, who would soon become a swing giant in his own right, was pianist Count Basie. Later, they were joined by the great blues singer Jimmy Rushing. Together they produced such classics as “Band Box Shuffle” and “Moten Stomp.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X9da72q3Has
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sV_r_GEBf3w

Next Post: Another Country, Another World-the 1930’s #15 The Music-The Birth of Swing pt. 3 On the Edge of the Swing Era. This one is already written, so it will be posted in four days.

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Re: Another Country, Another World

Sun Sep 04, 2016 2:33 am

Another Country, Another World-the 1930’s #16 The Music-The Birth of Swing pt. 3 On the Edge of the Swing Era

In the early thirties, the first wave of swing produced two more notable orchestras. From Kansas City, there was Andy Kirk and his Clouds of Joy. Kirk’s takeover and renaming of Terrance Holder’s Dark Clouds of Joy Orchestra and his hiring of genius jazz pianist and arranger Mary Lou Williams in 1929 added a crucial piece to the mosaic of big band swing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aRtnsWZXQZ8
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZzN2B4CfP18

Two years earlier jazz saxophonist Glen Gray renamed his Orange Blossoms Orchestra the Casa Loma Orchestra after the Casa Loma Hotel in Toronto following a six month engagement there. By the beginning of the thirties, the band had developed its own style of swing as seen in such hits as “Casa Loma Stomp” and “No Name Jive.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MdjDcLFsXAI
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0WtWzoHNrq8

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Re: Another Country, Another World

Thu Sep 08, 2016 1:18 am

Another Country, Another World-the 1930’s #17 The Music-The Swing Era pt. 1

The second and greatest wave of swing began in 1935 with two crucial events. On the night of August 21, halfway through an engagement at the Palomar Ballroom in Los Angeles, Benny Goodman abandoned the dull stock arrangements that were starting to drive patrons away. In their place he and a legendary orchestra including drummer Gene Krupa, trumpeter Bunny Berrigan, and singer Helen Ward broke out hard swinging arrangements by the father of swing, Fletcher Henderson. A lackluster end to a disastrous tour turned into an electrifying triumph that brought swing to the forefront of the national consciousness. Enjoy Goodman's classic version of "King Porter Stomp" and the lesser known but still terrific "Night Wind."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SMyn8m0k2c4
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jkDRGMyw4xU

That same year, two wildly talented veterans of the early thirties music scene broke up their band after a ferocious quarrel. They were trombonist Tommy Dorsey and underrated saxophonist Jimmy Dorsey. Both soon formed bands of their own that were among the most popular of the swing era. Tommy played trombone in a smooth, lyrical style that was unlike anyone else. Jimmy was a virtuoso sax player whose band only hit its stride at the end of the thirties after he hired singer Helen O’Connell. "Tailspin" shows how hard the Dorsey Brothers' original band could swing. "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You," which gave the often hardnosed Tommy the less than accurate nickname, "the sentimental gentleman of swing," catches him at the beginning of his glory years. Jimmy demonstrates his skill and artistry with the saxophone in "Dusk in Upper Sandusky." The effect of Helen O'Connell and her vocal pairing with Bob Eberly on the orchestra is apparent in "Amapola."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EjklAZxfptQ
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bt3nPsXuNQI
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Xn9jbB ... WPuH22h_SP
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rLpt_SM ... 3B9LynuK5l

I will be on vacation until Monday and away from my computer. The next column will not appear until next Tuesday or Wednsday.

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Re: Another Country, Another World

Thu Sep 15, 2016 12:40 am

Another Country, Another World-the 1930’s #18 The Music-The Swing Era pt. 2

If 1935 was the year the swing era began, 1938 was the year it reached critical mass. During those twelve months, three of the most important big bands hit their stride.
Virtuoso clarinetist Artie Shaw and his orchestra achieved nationwide fame with their smash hit “Begin the Beguine.” The same year, they recorded their theme song Nightmare. Both featured breathtaking solos by Shaw.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zNcPnEc99UE
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K0lH8OM8gmI

In New York, Count Basie led his band, a combination of remnants of the old Benny Moten Orchestra and new talents into the Savoy Ballroom to climax a dizzying three years rise to fame starting in Kansas City and marked by wildly successful Chicago and New York engagements and landmark recording sessions. They were there for a battle of the bands with the dynamic Chick Webb Orchestra and its fantastic new singer Ella Fitzgerald. The Savoy was the Webb organization’s home ground where, behind Webb’s forceful drumming, it had outplayed many other bands. Basie, however had possibly the single greatest rhythm section of any swing orchestra in the form of Freddy Green on guitar, Jo Jones on drums and Walter Page on bass. Playing over them were legendary soloists such as tenor saxophonist Lester “Pres” Young, trumpeters Buck Clayton and Harry “Sweets” Edison, and trombonist Benny Morton. Also with the Basie Orchestra was possibly the greatest jazz vocalist of all time, one of the vanishingly few whose technique and artistry were even in the same league with Ella Fitzgerald’s, the immortal Billie Holliday. Webb and his musicians swung their hardest, but Basie and his orchestra glided off with the victory.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0HHE39sXiiQ
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RKM9Q5nwTQw

As a bonus, here are Chick Webb and Ella Fitzgerald burning down the house on the "St. Louis Blues" in a transcription of a live radio broadcast from the Savoy Ballroom. As you will hear, Ella was already well on her way to becoming the most electrifying and resourceful scat singer in the history of jazz. Put her in front of the raw power of Webb's drumming and it's easy to see that the night Webb and Basie were together at the Savoy must have been one for the ages.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WzLQKLGrC78

In December, 1938, one of the founding figures of swing, Duke Ellington first met the composing and arranging genius Billy Strayhorn who would inspire him and his orchestra to their greatest artistic heights. Strayhorn was incapable of a dull lyric or an unoriginal note. He was responsible for such great Ellington standards as “Lush Life,” “Tale the A Train,” and Satin Doll.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GqTDm34vyj0
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vn_G-1uIrJU
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TrytKuC3Z_o

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Re: Another Country, Another World

Mon Oct 03, 2016 3:06 am

Another Country, Another World-the 1930’s #19 Revolt of the Unemployed-America

The crash of the stock market in New York on October 29, 1929 was followed by a wave of business and banking failures that led to the deepest and most sustained period of unemployment in the history of the western world. Millions lost their jobs, their savings, and their homes. By 1933 unemployment had reached 25% in the United States and 27% in Canada. Governments in both countries proved inadequate to deal with the crisis. In America, President Herbert Hoover’s administration responded with a cautious program of modest appropriations to stabilize the banks and fund public works. The programs were admirable in their intent, but as relief for the unemployed, they were like throwing a drowning man the cork from a wine bottle when he needs a life preserver. The unemployed, at least those who had served in the armed forces in World War I, had their own idea of how the government should help them. In May 1932, unemployed WWI veterans began arriving in Washington D.C. and settling at a shantytown on Anacostia Flats. At the end of the war, they had been given certificates entitling them to a $1000 bonus payment for their service in 1945. The purpose of the march was to petition Congress to authorize immediate payment of the bonus, close to a year’s income for most Americans at that time. They were peaceful and the police superintendent of Washington D.C., Pelham D. Glassford, a fellow veteran, treated them with tact and understanding.
The House of Representatives passed a bill authorizing payment of the bonus. Unfortunately, at that point, Congress, President Hoover and the U.S. Army began to mishandle things badly, leading to one of the most shameful days in American history. For the rest of the story of the Bonus March, follow the links.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/macarthur/ ... MEX89.html
https://www.loc.gov/exhibits/treasures/trm203.html

Macarthur should have been court-martialed for the attack on Anacostia Flats. President Hoover, his commander in chief, refused to even reprimand him. The end of the Bonus March was not the end of the bonus marchers’ story, but that is another, later column. Next, we follow the history of the depression era unemployed to Canada.

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