The Soundies

A History and Catalog of Jukebox Film Shorts of the 1940s

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About the Book

The 1940s saw a brief yet audacious experiment in mass entertainment: a jukebox with a screen. Patrons could insert a dime, then listen to and watch such popular entertainers as Nat “King” Cole, Gene Krupa, Cab Calloway or Les Paul. There were a number of companies offering these tuneful delights, but the most successful was the Mills Novelty Company and its three-minute musical shorts called Soundies.
For the first time, the history of these early music videos is explored in depth. A complete filmography of 1,880 Soundies, this book details the musicians heard and seen on screen, listing recording and filming dates, arrangers, soloists, dancers, entertainment trade reviews and much more. Additional filmographies cover more than 80 subjects produced by the other companies. In addition to the historical text and film inventories, this book is illustrated with 125 photos taken on the films sets, along with advertising images and production documents. A chapter with more than 75 interviews narrates the first-hand experiences and recollections of Soundies directors and participants. Forty years before MTV made its debut, the Soundies were there to provide entertainment for those who loved the popular music of the 1940s. This was truly “music for the eyes.”

About the Author(s)

Mark Cantor is a Los Angeles-based musicologist, historian and archivist of jazz and popular music on film. He is the curator of the Celluloid Improvisations Music Film Archive, perhaps the largest privately held collection of musical performance on 16mm film worldwide.

Bibliographic Details

Mark Cantor
Format: softcover (8.5 x 11)
Bibliographic Info: ca. 125 photos, appendices, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2022
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8313-3
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4642-8
Imprint: McFarland