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Stuff you practically never saw/heard in Classic Film Noir


cigarjoe
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I haven't by any means seen every film produced during what is usually considered Hollywood's Classic Noir Era but I've probably seen out of Shelby's "Dark City The Film Noir" list about 330-5 noirs. But here is stuff you practically never saw or heard in Classic Hollywood film noir (usually defined as the period from 1941-1958). 

 

Diegetic Popular Music, Popular music whose source is visible on the screen especially in Noirs after say 1952, you never saw a character, turn on a car radio, punch in a jukebox, or put a record on a turntable and heard Dean Martin, Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, Patti Page, Ames Brothers, Hank Williams, Dinah Shore, Bill Haley and His Comets, Platters, Elvis Presley, Fats Domino, Harry Belafonte, Chuck Berry, Ricky Nelson, Jerry Lee Lewis,The Kingston Trio, Little Anthony and the Imperials, etc., etc. All popular artists who would have been live in a band, on the air, or on records. 

 

I have seen Louis Armstrong in The Beat Generation and The Strip (1951), Nat King Cole in The Blue Gardenia and some Jazz bands, notably the one in D.O.A., and others that I can't recall at the moment but, contrary to popular belief, most Film Noir had studio orchestra "string" scores. 

 

Pizza Parlors/Joints Never seen a Noir with a Pizza Parlor, have you? I've seen Italian restaurants sure. Pizza places were there because the first printed reference to "pizza" served in the US is a 1904 article in The Boston Journal, and Gennaro Lombardi opened a grocery store in 1897 which was later established as the "said" first pizzeria in America in 1905 with New York's issuance of the mercantile license. So ****? It was around and a relatively cheap food. Any body see a character eat a slice, or pick up a pie for the gang? The same goes for... 

 

Chinese Restaurants the only one I can think of is in Pickup on South Street, and someone mentioned Experiment in Terror (though it's out of the time period) there's always a diner or a burger joint in noirs, but on a side note you ever notice the character always orders a burger and a coffee, and never a Coke, and what about fries they too are usually MIA in Noirs. What about Hot Dogs, Tacos or a bowl of Chili? 

 

Levis jeans or just jeans in general, the only noir that I've seen where a character noticeably wears jeans is Steve Cochran in Tomorrow Is Another Day (1951) 

 

got anything to add? 

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I haven't by any means seen every film produced during what is usually considered Hollywood's Classic Noir Era but I've probably seen out of Shelby's "Dark City The Film Noir" list about 330-5 noirs. But here is stuff you practically never saw or heard in Classic Hollywood film noir (usually defined as the period from 1941-1958). 
 
Diegetic Popular Music, Popular music whose source is visible on the screen especially in Noirs after say 1952, you never saw a character, turn on a car radio, punch in a jukebox, or put a record on a turntable and heard Dean Martin, Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, Patti Page, Ames Brothers, Hank Williams, Dinah Shore, Bill Haley and His Comets, Platters, Elvis Presley, Fats Domino, Harry Belafonte, Chuck Berry, Ricky Nelson, Jerry Lee Lewis,The Kingston Trio, Little Anthony and the Imperials, etc., etc. All popular artists who would have been live in a band, on the air, or on records. 

 

Having popular recordings in films would have required rights payments.  Few movie studios owned record labels (MGM being the obvious exception); Warners owned several publishing companies, and used their cartoon division to plug songs they owned (the reason for all those cartoons where magazine racks come to life and sing), but did not have their own record label until 1960, when they hit paydirt with the Bob Newhart albums. Warners had actually been isnpired to create their own label by the smash success of Tab Hunter's cover of "Young Love" -- a contract player making money for another company (Dot Records). Jack Warner was predictably furious.

 

In the '50s you saw the rise of the jukebox musical with acts from different record labels, such as the Alan Freed films. By 1969 with Easy Rider you had soundtracks with various artists, which became a major marketing tool. American Graffiti devoted 10% of its budget to music rights.

 

I have seen Louis Armstrong in The Beat Generation and The Strip (1951), Nat King Cole in The Blue Gardenia and some Jazz bands, notably the one in D.O.A., and others that I can't recall at the moment but, contrary to popular belief, most Film Noir had studio orchestra "string" scores. 

 

 

The studios had these musicians under contract. As late as Harper (1966) Paul Newman goes to a bar with a long haired rock band on stage -- but the music we hear is standard cocktail lounge pop-jazz, which doesn't match the musicians on stage (guitars and drums) at all.

 

Pizza Parlors/Joints Never seen a Noir with a Pizza Parlor, have you? I've seen Italian restaurants sure. Pizza places were there because the first printed reference to "pizza" served in the US is a 1904 article in The Boston Journal, and Gennaro Lombardi opened a grocery store in 1897 which was later established as the "said" first pizzeria in America in 1905 with New York's issuance of the mercantile license. So ****? It was around and a relatively cheap food. Any body see a character eat a slice, or pick up a pie for the gang? 
 
As I posted earlier in the thread, pizzas were very exotic to most Americans until the 1950s. Pizzas parlors are discussed as a business opportunity in Hot Spell, but I can't recall seeing anyone eat a pizza until Splendor In The Grass
 
you ever notice the character always orders a burger and a coffee, and never a Coke
 
Characters occasionally order Coke in old movies; the only one I can think of off the top of my head is The Rack (1956). This sort of casual reference would disappear with the rise of product placement.
 
Levis jeans or just jeans in general, the only noir that I've seen where a character noticeably wears jeans is Steve Cochran in Tomorrow Is Another Day (1951) 

 

Watch  some movies with working class characters, factory workers or farmers,. I'm sure jeans show up all the time.

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Having popular recordings in films would have required rights payments. Few movie studios owned record labels (MGM being the obvious exception); Warners owned several publishing companies, and used their cartoon division to plug songs they owned (the reason for all those cartoons where magazine racks come to life and sing), but did not have their own record label until 1960, when they hit paydirt with the Bob Newhart albums. Warners had actually been isnpired to create their own label by the smash success of Tab Hunter's cover of "Young Love" -- a contract player making money for another company (Dot Records). Jack Warner was predictably furious.

 

In the '50s you saw the rise of the jukebox musical with acts from different record labels, such as the Alan Freed films. By 1969 with Easy Rider you had soundtracks with various artists, which became a major marketing tool. American Graffiti devoted 10% of its budget to music rights.

 

 

The studios had these musicians under contract. As late as Harper (1966) Paul Newman goes to a bar with a long haired rock band on stage -- but the music we hear is standard cocktail lounge pop-jazz, which doesn't match the musicians on stage (guitars and drums) at all.

 

As I posted earlier in the thread, pizzas were very exotic to most Americans until the 1950s. Pizzas parlors are discussed as a business opportunity in Hot Spell, but I can't recall seeing anyone eat a pizza until Splendor In The Grass

 

Characters occasionally order Coke in old movies; the only one I can think of off the top of my head is The Rack (1956). This sort of casual reference would disappear with the rise of product placement.

 

 

Watch some movies with working class characters, factory workers or farmers,. I'm sure jeans show up all the time.

 

Warner Brothers had their own label in 1959 - - because they had a big hit with Kookie, Kookie, Lend Me Your Comb by Ed Kookie Byrnes and Connie Stevens.

 

Edd Byrnes had a follow-up hit with Like I Love You.

 

Also they released the theme song to 77 Sunset Strip on the Warner Brothers label that same year.

 

I know this because I bought all 3 records.

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I haven't by any means seen every film produced during what is usually considered Hollywood's Classic Noir Era but I've probably seen out of Shelby's "Dark City The Film Noir" list about 330-5 noirs. But here is stuff you practically never saw or heard in Classic Hollywood film noir (usually defined as the period from 1941-1958). 
 
Diegetic Popular Music, Popular music whose source is visible on the screen especially in Noirs after say 1952, you never saw a character, turn on a car radio, punch in a jukebox, or put a record on a turntable and heard Dean Martin, Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, Patti Page, Ames Brothers, Hank Williams, Dinah Shore, Bill Haley and His Comets, Platters, Elvis Presley, Fats Domino, Harry Belafonte, Chuck Berry, Ricky Nelson, Jerry Lee Lewis,The Kingston Trio, Little Anthony and the Imperials, etc., etc. All popular artists who would have been live in a band, on the air, or on records. 
 
I have seen Louis Armstrong in The Beat Generation and The Strip (1951), Nat King Cole in The Blue Gardenia and some Jazz bands, notably the one in D.O.A., and others that I can't recall at the moment but, contrary to popular belief, most Film Noir had studio orchestra "string" scores. 
 
Pizza Parlors/Joints Never seen a Noir with a Pizza Parlor, have you? I've seen Italian restaurants sure. Pizza places were there because the first printed reference to "pizza" served in the US is a 1904 article in The Boston Journal, and Gennaro Lombardi opened a grocery store in 1897 which was later established as the "said" first pizzeria in America in 1905 with New York's issuance of the mercantile license. So ****? It was around and a relatively cheap food. Any body see a character eat a slice, or pick up a pie for the gang? The same goes for... 
 
Chinese Restaurants the only one I can think of is in Pickup on South Street, and someone mentioned Experiment in Terror (though it's out of the time period) there's always a diner or a burger joint in noirs, but on a side note you ever notice the character always orders a burger and a coffee, and never a Coke, and what about fries they too are usually MIA in Noirs. What about Hot Dogs, Tacos or a bowl of Chili? 
 
Levis jeans or just jeans in general, the only noir that I've seen where a character noticeably wears jeans is Steve Cochran in Tomorrow Is Another Day (1951) 
 
got anything to add? 

 

Very interesting topic. Like American Graffiti, yet earlier, Kenneth Anger in some of his films used well known hits of the day like He's a Rebel to be undertones on the intercutting of scenes using DeMille's crucifixion walk with H.B. Warner and the modern shots. But as you say this was not being done in noirs, or utilization of any brand names or concepts which is fun to contemplate. I once had a book about Joseph H. Lewis that as I recall mentioned that he liked the use of familiar objects and items with brand names in his films to give an air of authenticity, like in Gun Crazy or My Name is Julia Ross type films.

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Like American Graffiti, yet earlier, Kenneth Anger in some of his films used well known hits of the day like He's a Rebel to be undertones on the intercutting of scenes using DeMille's crucifixion walk with H.B. Warner and the modern shots.

 

I presume he used these recordings w/o paying any rights fees

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The studio's used their studio musicians, which gives the films a slightly off - un real quality, compared with today when they make a film set in the 50s they use the real music but the actors usually don't come off very well at all as 50s characters, and you get a different off quality. lol.

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The studio's used their studio musicians, which gives the films a slightly off - un real quality, compared with today when they make a film set in the 50s they use the real music but the actors usually don't come off very well at all as 50s characters, and you get a different off quality. lol.

 

The studio musicians in So Cal where some of the top west coast jazz musicians.   So I'm confused what would be 'off' by use of studio musicians in the 50s playing a jazz score \ jazz music.

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Your mention of the brand name, Coca Cola got me to thinking about its use in Dr. Strangelove, but of course that's not noir. My wife mentioned the film Fire Down Below saying she thinks they mention the soft drink in it and even with Mitchum and Hayworth it might not technically be noir, but it was written by Max Catto who also wrote a very noirish tale called Bad Blonde that in the film starred Barbara Payton, a noirish dame if there ever was one, Cigar Joe.

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The studio musicians in So Cal where some of the top west coast jazz musicians.   So I'm confused what would be 'off' by use of studio musicians in the 50s playing a jazz score \ jazz music.

Contentious aren't you? This is what I wrote:

 

Diegetic Popular Music, Popular music whose source is visible on the screen especially in Noirs after say 1952, you never saw a character, turn on a car radio, punch in a jukebox, or put a record on a turntable and heard Dean Martin, Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, Patti Page, Ames Brothers, Hank Williams, Dinah Shore, Bill Haley and His Comets, Platters, Elvis Presley, Fats Domino, Harry Belafonte, Chuck Berry, Ricky Nelson, Jerry Lee Lewis,The Kingston Trio, Little Anthony and the Imperials, etc., etc. All popular artists who would have been live in a band, on the air, or on records. 

 

I have seen Louis Armstrong in The Beat Generation, and Nat King Cole in The Blue Gardenia and some Jazz bands, notably the one in D.O.A., and others that I can't recall at the moment but, contrary to popular belief, most Film Noir had studio orchestra "string" scores. 

 

I was talking about popular musicians/recording artists who were Billboard top 100, not just top musicians playing a jazz score

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Your mention of the brand name, Coca Cola got me to thinking about its use in Dr. Strangelove, but of course that's not noir. My wife mentioned the film Fire Down Below saying she thinks they mention the soft drink in it and even with Mitchum and Hayworth it might not technically be noir, but it was written by Max Catto who also wrote a very noirish tale called Bad Blonde that in the film starred Barbara Payton, a noirish dame if there ever was one, Cigar Joe.

I actually do consider Dr. Strangelove a Satirical Noir a black comedy if you will. There have been a few through the years 

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I actually do consider Dr. Strangelove a Satirical Noir a black comedy if you will. There have been a few through the years 

I wanted to say in my personal opinion that Dr. Strangelove does fit some noir criteria but thought I might be the only one seeing such inferences. Thanks for opining your assessment, Joe. To me Kubrick is always a bit noirish.

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Characters occasionally order Coke in old movies; the only one I can think of off the top of my head is The Rack (1956). This sort of casual reference would disappear with the rise of product placement.

It is of course not a noir, but Father of the Bride has a prominent scene with a coke bottle, Spencer Tracy, and Carleton Carpenter. Carpenter brings it up in the Word of Mouth piece he did that shows up on TCM.
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Contentious aren't you? This is what I wrote:

 

Diegetic Popular Music, Popular music whose source is visible on the screen especially in Noirs after say 1952, you never saw a character, turn on a car radio, punch in a jukebox, or put a record on a turntable and heard Dean Martin, Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, Patti Page, Ames Brothers, Hank Williams, Dinah Shore, Bill Haley and His Comets, Platters, Elvis Presley, Fats Domino, Harry Belafonte, Chuck Berry, Ricky Nelson, Jerry Lee Lewis,The Kingston Trio, Little Anthony and the Imperials, etc., etc. All popular artists who would have been live in a band, on the air, or on records. 

 

I have seen Louis Armstrong in The Beat Generation, and Nat King Cole in The Blue Gardenia and some Jazz bands, notably the one in D.O.A., and others that I can't recall at the moment but, contrary to popular belief, most Film Noir had studio orchestra "string" scores. 

 

I was talking about popular musicians/recording artists who were Billboard top 100, not just top musicians playing a jazz score

 

Sorry,  but I still don't understand what is 'off'.    That noirs made during the noir era (say 1941 - 1960),  didn't feature popular artist but instead orchestra string scores OR that when a noir did feature jazz it wasn't popular jazz artist but instead more obscure jazz acts?

 

Like Mitchum said in His Kind of Women;   I'm not knocking you,  I'm just trying to understand you. 

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I always think of Doc VerylongGermanname, the criminal

mastermind, in The Asphalt Jungle. He stops with his

fellow compatriot cab driver at that little dinner at the

end of the picture. If only he hadn't laid out all those

nickels so that sweet young thing could play the jukebox

and he could watch her gyrations. Maybe the old boy

could have gotten away.

 

Never hear them talk like real gangsters would have talked,

due to the Code. Never see them drink chocolate milkshakes

or eat ice cream.

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...I actually do consider Dr. Strangelove a Satirical Noir a black comedy if you will. There have been a few through the years 

 

Well, in that case CJ, and taking into account your premise of a lack of then current popular musical hits in post-1952 film noirs, I THINK I might have at least one exception to your premise here...well, that is IF you might ALSO consider the movie KING CREOLE (1958) at all "noir-ish", and which I believe one could make a reasonable case of it being so, as there are the usual seedy characters and mobster types in this Elvis movie and which of course are a mainstay of this particular film genre.

 

You see, at least two of the songs that Elvis himself sings in what many believe his best acting performance on the silver screen were major Top-40 hits for him at the time, "Hard Headed Woman" and "Trouble".

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Sorry,  but I still don't understand what is 'off'.    That noirs made during the noir era (say 1941 - 1960),  didn't feature popular artist but instead orchestra string scores OR that when a noir did feature jazz it wasn't popular jazz artist but instead more obscure jazz acts?

 

Like Mitchum said in His Kind of Women;   I'm not knocking you,  I'm just trying to understand you. 

If you watch a film set in the 50s today they use the real artists for the diegetic music coming out of the, radios, jukebox, phonograph records but the actors have a hard time convincing me that they are actually from the 50s. 

 

Watching noirs from the early 50s, you almost never hear the real popular artists music of the era, because the studios usually had their house orchestras do the music, I'm not saying they were bad or incompetent or anything just saying that you rarely ever hear the popular music of that era performed by the popular recording artists over radios, jukeboxes or records. I know that every club had competent musicians etc., etc, but it just seems off nowadays not to have used popular recording artists, when you hear them in these recent period pieces. I know the studios didn't want to pay for the rights back then.

 

As an example think of what the car chase in The Lineup would have been like if Chuck Berry's "Maybellene" was playing over the radio. ;-)

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If you watch a film set in the 50s today they use the real artists for the diegetic music coming out of the, radios, jukebox, phonograph records but the actors have a hard time convincing me that they are actually from the 50s. 

 

Watching noirs from the early 50s, you almost never hear the real popular artists music of the era, because the studios usually had their house orchestras do the music, I'm not saying they were bad or incompetent or anything just saying that you rarely ever hear the popular music of that era performed by the popular recording artists over radios, jukeboxes or records. I know that every club had competent musicians etc., etc, but it just seems off nowadays not to have used popular recording artists, when you hear them in these recent period pieces. I know the studios didn't want to pay for the rights back then.

 

As an example think of what the car chase in The Lineup would have been like if Chuck Berry's "Maybellene" was playing over the radio. ;-)

 

Thanks for the clarity;   I do agree that a typical studio's house orchestras wasn't the best 'fit' for a noir score especially one that feature more straight ahead jazz.    Yea,  all the members in such a orchestra where first rate musicians but not,  per se,  jazz musicians,  especially beyond a big band type sound.    Myself,  I like 4 - 6 member jazz combos to get that noir\jazz vibe I'm looking for.

 

During the studio eras most producers just used music they had in the 'can' as a way to reduce cost.   As we have discussed before for noirs\crime films that really feature jazz,  the 60s was a better era than the 50s.   Even T.V. shows like Peter Gun made great use of jazz to set the mood of the story compared to most noirs of the 40s and early to mid-50s.  

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If you watch a film set in the 50s today they use the real artists for the diegetic music coming out of the, radios, jukebox, phonograph records but the actors have a hard time convincing me that they are actually from the 50s. 

 

Watching noirs from the early 50s, you almost never hear the real popular artists music of the era, because the studios usually had their house orchestras do the music, I'm not saying they were bad or incompetent or anything just saying that you rarely ever hear the popular music of that era performed by the popular recording artists over radios, jukeboxes or records. I know that every club had competent musicians etc., etc, but it just seems off nowadays not to have used popular recording artists, when you hear them in these recent period pieces. I know the studios didn't want to pay for the rights back then.

 

As an example think of what the car chase in The Lineup would have been like if Chuck Berry's "Maybellene" was playing over the radio. ;-)

 

Some of that was true even in movies that WEREN'T noir.

 

Listen to the music the KIDS are dancing to in Hollywood movies made back in the early to mid '60's.  It's NOT anywhere NEAR the rock'n'roll that kids were ACTUALLY dancing to.

 

The 50's?  Sure, many modern movies with stories that take place in that period might NOW use actual '50's music, be it jazz or whatever, but everything ELSE is off, probably due to producers playing to what people's CONCEPTION of what the '50's were like.  Same with the '60's.  They'd have people believing that ALL hippies wore "granny glasses", fringed suede vests, headbands and bell bottomed pants with sandles.  To continue.....

 

"In The Mood" WASN'T the ONLY song heard of in the '40's. 

 

Disco WASN'T the only music heard in the '70's.

 

Y'all get the drift.

 

 

Sepiatone

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Another thing you hardly ever saw in Classic Noir that a responder on another board mentioned was TV sets. 

 

There is a brief scene in On Dangerous Ground (1951) where the kids of one of the characters are watching TV, but that's about it. 

 

Yea TV sets, there are not a whole lot of Noir's with TV's, another that comes to mind is Slightly Scarlet (1956) where a gang of hoods led by Ted De Corsia watch the tube in a darkened room along with John Payne.

 

 

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Sorry for continuing the steer away from film noir and talking instead about movies in general, but yeah, when you see the kids dancing to a juke box in a lot of '50s movies, unless it was an Elvis movie or one of those rock & roll movies with Alan Freed, what they're dancing to sounds more like jazz, the Benny Goodman kind of music their parents might have been dancing to 20 years earlier. I've always read that Blackboard Jungle caused quite a stir by kicking off with an actual rock & roll song playing over its opening credits, that teenagers were known to jump up and start dancing in the aisles of the movie theaters. In that movie, there's a clear generational divide between jazz and rock & roll in that scene with the students destroying that poor teacher's precious jazz records when all he wanted to do was enlighten them a little bit.

 

Edit: Occasionally you would hear some very generic electric guitar instrumentals that were supposed to be a cue to the audience that it's rock & roll, I think, like the music the radio-toting guy is bopping his head to in The Defiant Ones, and wasn't there some vaguely kind of rock & roll number in A Face in the Crowd? Been too long since I've seen it.

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Sorry for continuing the steer away from film noir and talking instead about movies in general, but yeah, when you see the kids dancing to a juke box in a lot of '50s movies, unless it was an Elvis movie or one of those rock & roll movies with Alan Freed, what they're dancing to sounds more like jazz, the Benny Goodman kind of music their parents might have been dancing to 20 years earlier. I've always read that Blackboard Jungle caused quite a stir by kicking off with an actual rock & roll song playing over its opening credits, that teenagers were known to jump up and start dancing in the aisles of the movie theaters. In that movie, there's a clear generational divide between jazz and rock & roll in that scene with the students destroying that poor teacher's precious jazz records when all he wanted to do was enlighten them a little bit.

 

You have to remember, there were many factors playing into what music they would feature in films. What we consider rock and roll today, back then was a version of rhythm and blues (known as race music back then). This was the 50's. One of the worst crimes one could commit was to offend someone's sensibilities. This is when many Americans only exposure to this music was Pat Boone covers :(  .

 

The kids were rocking and rolling to the new sound but, their parents who bought the movie tickets, Producers and directors of said movies grew up with Glenn Miller and Perry Como. Asking them soundtrack a big budget film with "guitars and noise" was a chance few were willing to put millions on the line to take.

 

Frankly, you could make the argument that 50's music is much more accessible now than it was in that decade. I'm listening to some right now.

 

 

And lets also not forget the 50's was a great decade for jazz also.  :)   

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OK finally saw a Film Noir with a bonafide rock and roll star sing a song to the accompaniment of a jukebox. It's in The Case Against Brooklyn (1958) and the artist is Bobby Helms famous for "My Special Angel" and "Jingle Bell Rock", however the song he sings is "Jacquelyn". 

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