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Soundies

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I didn't see a thread about this topic.

 

Yesterday I was reading up on how Doris Day got started in the movies. On her wiki page, it says that when she was cast by Warners to do ROMANCE ON THE HIGH SEAS (which was her first feature), she had already done a few soundies. 

 

I wasn't sure what soundies were exactly. And there's a wiki page about it:

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soundies

 

Can we see say these are like early music videos? Except some of them were comedies and not all musical.

 

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AMC showed plenty of them in the 1990s when it resembled TCM. You can find titles and copyright dates here: https://archive.org/details/motionpict19401949librrich

 

The actual number made is quite staggering, more filmed in New York than Hollywood (including the former Vitaphone facilities in Brooklyn after Warner Brothers pulled its support in 1940). More of these were shown with jukeboxes, often available in the 16mm format, than theaters. So... yeah, they were as close to music "videos" as possible.

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AMC showed plenty of them in the 1990s when it resembled TCM. You can find titles and copyright dates here: https://archive.org/details/motionpict19401949librrich

 

The actual number made is quite staggering, more filmed in New York than Hollywood (including the former Vitaphone facilities in Brooklyn after Warner Brothers pulled its support in 1940). More of these were shown with jukeboxes, often available in the 16mm format, than theaters. So... yeah, they were as close to music "videos" as possible.

 

Yeah, this is all rather interesting. Thanks Jlewis for replying. It would be a treat if TCM showed these. Unless they already do, and I missed them.

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Soundies are a lot of fun. I've been a long-time fan & collector of them (even have some on 16mm film).

As noted, AMC used to run some of them in their good old days (early 1990's). But since they were not made for theatrical exhibition, it was a stretch for AMC (as it would be if TCM started running them) to run them on a movie station.

 

There are two books on Soundies, for anyone who would like to read all about them, both by Scott MacGillivray and Ted Okuda.

First was "The Soundies Distributing Corporation of America: A History and Filmography" in 1991. Then in 2007 they updated (and actually completely revised) it, including an index that was not included in the first edition. This revised edition was entitled "The Soundies Book" (which is what we Soundies collectors had been calling the first book ever since it came out!)

Both books include a detailed history of the company and complete filmography of the films (without checking, I think there were about 1600) and are actually so different one should have both for the complete story.

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Soundies are a lot of fun. I've been a long-time fan & collector of them (even have some on 16mm film).

As noted, AMC used to run some of them in their good old days (early 1990's). But since they were not made for theatrical exhibition, it was a stretch for AMC (as it would be if TCM started running them) to run them on a movie station.

 

There are two books on Soundies, for anyone who would like to read all about them, both by Scott MacGillivray and Ted Okuda.

First was "The Soundies Distributing Corporation of America: A History and Filmography" in 1991. Then in 2007 they updated (and actually completely revised) it, including an index that was not included in the first edition. This revised edition was entitled "The Soundies Book" (which is what we Soundies collectors had been calling the first book ever since it came out!)

Both books include a detailed history of the company and complete filmography of the films (without checking, I think there were about 1600) and are actually so different one should have both for the complete story.

 

That's wonderful. You seem like an expert on Soundies. Thanks for sharing this information. Did Doris Day make quite a few of them? I guess they served as a screen test for her, since based on her strength in these, she was hired by Michael Curtiz and given a long-term contract to make films at Warner Brothers.

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That's wonderful. You seem like an expert on Soundies. Thanks for sharing this information. Did Doris Day make quite a few of them? I guess they served as a screen test for her, since based on her strength in these, she was hired by Michael Curtiz and given a long-term contract to make films at Warner Brothers.

Regarding Doris Day:

I believe she made three Soundies (with the Les Brown band) in 1941:

(Exact release dates are generally not documented for Soundies, so I will give the Copyright dates here).

"My Lost Horizon" (4-7-41)

"Once Over Light" (4-13-41)

"Is It Love Or Is It Conscription?" (4-21-41)

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Regarding Doris Day:

I believe she made three Soundies (with the Les Brown band) in 1941:

(Exact release dates are generally not documented for Soundies, so I will give the Copyright dates here).

"My Lost Horizon" (4-7-41)

"Once Over Light" (4-13-41)

"Is It Love Or Is It Conscription?" (4-21-41)

 

Thank you for the info.

 

Sorry to keep asking so many questions-- but I find this a topic worth exploring-- do all the Soundies survive? When AMC aired them, were they inserted between the feature movies...or did they devote a whole block of programming to them? 

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As I recall, they aired them mostly between features like other shorts on AMC, such as Paramount/Jerry Fairbanks Speaking of Animals, Popular Science and Unusual Occupations... all shorts that SHOULD be shown on TCM today. These Soundies were like shorter (mostly one or two songs) variations of Warner Brothers' Melody Masters (running a full 10 minutes with up to six songs and sometimes a "plot") that are shown on TCM a lot. Universal made even longer jazzy reels, running 15+ minutes. Of course, you can search in each of the Shortie Checklists here for those titles and musical performers.

 

TCM should have no issue showing these since they are also movies. Some were shown in theaters as well as jukebox joints. TCM also shows many educational 16mm films marketed for schools and businesses.

 

I think the Soundie that gets shown the most on TV and is included in some of Kino's DVDs of Paramount shorts (even though Paramount didn't produce it) is the one with Fats Waller's "Ain't Misbehaving".

 

 

 

If TCM had more motivation to show non-MGM and Warner shorts (aside the occasional "public domain" or mid-50s RKO), there is a huge treasure trove of material available and begging for an audience and a $$ market. Just imagine if Universal, Paramount, Sony/Columbia and Fox suddenly discovered that people here would be willing to buy DVDs or online downloads of these.

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