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“Chattanooga Choo Choo” February 10, 2008

Posted by Jeff in 1929 through WWII, Dance, Jazz, Movies, Music, Nicholas Brothers, Swing.
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From Sun Valley Serenade (1941), an intro by the Glenn Miller Orchestra segues into …


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“I Got A Gal In Kalamazoo” February 9, 2008

Posted by Jeff in 1929 through WWII, Dance, Jazz, Movies, Music, Nicholas Brothers, Swing.
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A year after Sun Valley Serenade, Glenn Miller, the Nicholas Brothers and Harry Warren and Max Gordon continue their survey of songs about American cities with funny names …

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“Lucky Numbers” February 8, 2008

Posted by Jeff in 1929 through WWII, Dance, Jazz, Movies, Music, Nicholas Brothers, Swing.
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From The Black Network, a 1936 short, fifteen-year-old Harold and twenty-two-year-old Fayard Nicholas perform “Lucky Numbers” by Cliff Hess.


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Adelaide Hall and the Nicholas Brothers February 7, 2008

Posted by Jeff in 1929 through WWII, Dance, Movies, Music, Nicholas Brothers, Swing, Theater, Vaudeville.
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From 1935, the VitaPhone short “An All-Colored Vaudeville Show” …

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“Alright” February 6, 2008

Posted by Jeff in Cab Calloway, Dance, Music, Nicholas Brothers, R&B.
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Somebody involved with Janet Jackson’s 1990 music video Alright had a nice sense of cultural history …

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“Jumpin’ Jive” February 5, 2008

Posted by Jeff in 1929 through WWII, Cab Calloway, Dance, Jazz, Movies, Music, Nicholas Brothers, Swing.
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This clip from Stormy Weather (1943) features Calloway and his orchestra, and the amazing Nicholas Brothers (Harold and Fayard).


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Forgotten Broadway classics: St. Louis Woman January 30, 2008

Posted by Jeff in Harold Arlen, Musicals, Nicholas Brothers, Theater.
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“St. Louis Woman” sheet music

Forgotten by myself, amongst others.

When I did my series of non-posts about the Nicholas Brothers, I forgot that they co-starred in a musical by one of my favorite Broadway composers.

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He gave his regards to Broadway (first of two posts) December 15, 2007

Posted by Jeff in 1929 through WWII, Dance, George M. Cohan, Movies, Musicals, Theater.
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George M. CohanGeorge M. Cohan (1878-1942), the antagonist of my original screenplay Equity, was too sick with cancer to attend the premiere of Yankee Doodle Dandy, the movie based on his life starring James Cagney. But a few days later, in a scene reminiscent of the worst excesses of that wonderful movie, they got him in a wheelchair and sneaked him into the back of a Times Square movie theater so he could see it with a real audience.

Cohan’s verdict: “Nice movie. I wonder who it’s about?” He died less than six months later.

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“I Guess I’ll Have to Change My Plan” October 27, 2007

Posted by Jeff in 1946 through 1960, Comden and Green, Dance, Fred Astaire, Movies, Musicals, Theater.
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From The Band Wagon (1952), four Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz musical numbers for the price of (n)one …

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Can’t turn them loose October 26, 2007

Posted by Jeff in Dance, Music, R&B, Rock.
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Otis Redding (1941-1967), along with Eric Burdon and Chris Farlowe, perform on the British TV show Ready, Steady, Go!, recorded on September 16, 1966 — my thirteenth birthday.
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“Nothing’s impossible, I have found …” September 4, 2007

Posted by Jeff in 1929 through WWII, Dance, Fred Astaire, Jerome Kern, Movies, Musicals.
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The other best remembered dance number from Swing Time (1936), a movie originally titled Never Gonna Dance. And it certainly seems that way; here were are almost half an hour into the movie and believe it or not Fred and Ginger haven’t danced yet.

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La belle, la perfectly swell romance September 2, 2007

Posted by Jeff in 1929 through WWII, Dance, Fred Astaire, Jerome Kern, Movies, Musicals.
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From Swing Time (1936), a movie that was originally going to be named after this number — “Never Gonna Dance”. A dance to a song about not dancing, a love duet by two people who have just broken up.

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And just what is a beguine? August 30, 2007

Posted by Jeff in 1929 through WWII, Dance, Fred Astaire, Movies, Musicals.
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Broadway Melody of 1940 DVD cover

Happy birthday, Joe!

This was the last of four MGM musicals with Broadway Melody in the title, following the 1930 Oscar winner for Best Picture, today best known for the title song featured in the Singin’ In The Rain dance sequence. Unlike most such series, the last is far and away the best.

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“Dancing In The Dark” August 26, 2007

Posted by Jeff in 1946 through 1960, Comden and Green, Dance, Fred Astaire, Movies, Musicals, Theater.
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Band Wagon Poster

“I don’t think a dancer should smoke,” says Gabrielle Gerard (Cyd Charisse) to Tony Hunter (Fred Astaire) early on in The Band Wagon (1952). And, indeed, Astaire chain-smokes through the movie. But by the end, Gabrielle is in love with him — and bumming smokes off him as well.

I am a huge fan of backstage stories — my screenplay Equity is proof of that — and I can think of few as fun and as realistic as this one. With music by Arthur Schwartz and lyrics by Howard Dietz (yes, “Dancing In The Dark” does have lyrics), the title and several songs come from the last Broadway revue Fred did with his sister Adele before she retired in 1931. And here he is, at the age of fifty-four, keeping up with dancers some of whom are less than half his age.

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