Duke Ellington
RECORD MAKING WITH DUKE ELLINGTON & HIS ORCHESTRA. 1937
Director: Alois Havrila

RKO JAMBOREE: DUKE ELLINGTON & HIS ORCHESTRA. 1943
Director: Jay Bonafield

CRAVEN FILTERS PRESENTS DUKE ELLINGTON. 1970
DUKE ELLINGTON'S ZENITH COMMERCIAL. 1970
Directors: Unknown

DUKE ELLINGTON: THE CLASSIC HOLLYWOOD YEARS. 2004
DUKE ELLINGTON: THE CENTENNIAL COLLECTION. 2004
DUKE ELLINGTON & HIS ORCHESTRA 1929-1943. 1986
Directors: Jay Bonafield, Fred Waller, Dudley Murphey, & others

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl



Record Making A promotional documentary prepared & narrated by once-famed radio announcer Alois Havrila, Record Making with Duke Ellington & His Orchestra (1937) was not filmed on a stage but authentically in a sound studio, & shows the actual cutting of a 78 rpm master for lacquer records.

It runs five minutes, showing Duke preparing his band before the recording begins, while a sound technician listens in to balance what will soon be recorded. "The signal goes out, all ready!" & the performance starts.

The attentive ear will catch bits of "Daybreak Express," "How Do I Rate With You" & "Turn Off the Moon." But because Havrila's informative narration continues, this can't be watched for the strength of the orchestral performance. It is nevertheless revealing & interesting on the processing of records.

Even such little revelations as the record label being fused to the vinyl as it was pressed was fascinating, as opposed to being stuck on the disc after it's made. But note in close-up that Ivie Anderson's name was mispelled on said label for the recording of "Oh, Babe!, Maybe Someday."

After our quick journey through the factory we're taken back to the recording studio for a closing image of Ivie & Duke being captured direct to vinyl. And lordy how great was Ivie!



Bi-BlipRKO Jamboree #7: Duke Ellington & His Orchestra (1943) is a delightful sampler of Duke's great talent & tasteful showmanship.

It opens with an instrumental combination of "Mood Indigo" & "Sophisticated Lady," goes into "It Don't Mean a Thing," & concludes with "Don't Get Around Much Anymore."

It is staged to look like a performance at the Hurricane Restaurant in Hollywood but was actually filmed at the Movietone Studio in New York.

Bi-Blip"Mood Indigo/Sophisticated Lady" ranges from Duke playing piano alone, to extremely rich full orchestral.

His own piano is the real highlight, but he was not the sort of guy to hog the spotlight. He shows off his orchestra with a number of solo moments in the other two songs.

Trading off solo vocalists for "It Don't Mean a Thing (If it Ain't Got that Swing)" are by Ray Nance also with violin, & Taft Jordan, a great variant recording from the better known versions Duke did with Ivie Anderson or Ella Fitzgerald.

The tempo drops from wonderfully up on "It Don't Mean a Thing" to a slow-dance "Don't Get Around Much Anymore" with a particularly fine sax solo & muted slide trumbone solo.

The compilation dvd Duke Ellington: The Classic Hollywood Years (2004) includes RKO Jamboree Number 7 together with Black & Tan (1929), A Bundle of Blues (1933), Symphony in Black (1935), Paramount Pictorial No. 889 (1937), & Ellington's stand-alone performances taken from Check & Double Check (1930) & Hit Parade of 1937 (1937).

The same selection or short subjects & clips was earlier issued on video tape as Duke Ellington & His Orchestra 1929-1943 (1986).

The Jamboree film can also be had on the dvd that was an "extra" together with a CD, The Centennial Collection: Duke Ellington (2004) together with Record Making with Duke Ellington, all five of his soundies, Symphony in Black, & an audio interview.



Craven FilterDuring Duke Ellington's tour in Australia in 1970, a commercial was made to advertise both the Ellington orchestra's presence down-under, & the Craven cigarette brand. The ad was shot in Sydney on February 8th.

We see orchestra members on the airplane fairly relaxed, & someone lights a cigarette, but smoking is a natural rather exaggerated presence so most of the commercial seems not to be acting but just some good behind-the-scenes footage.

The camera follows Duke into a studio where the orchestra begins to play a piece of music written for this commercial, titled "The Craven Filter Song." A couple of the band members are smoking during the take, ending on a high note from Cat Anderson, & a close-up of a Craven cigarette pack on Duke's piano.

Duke was in fact a heavy smoker but is not personally shown smoking, which cannot have been an accident, as he was extremely conscious and concientious when it came to his public image. The irony is that smoking eventually killed him.



Zenith"Music is my life," said Ellington in the opening second of his thirty-second television commercial for Zenith brand stereo system, filmed for American television the same year he did the Craven Filters ad in Australia.

He gets up from his piano & goes delivers with an actor's credibility a monolog about the excellence of Zenith turntables & sound systems, which someone like himself can really appreciate.

With such jibberish spewing forth from his lips as "New dual dimension, circle of sound," he's certainly not saying anything personal, but it's nice to hear his voice, watch him put that needle down on his own record.

I bet they paid him a shitload of money to recommend Zenith, which, by the by, wasn't a bad system for the time.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl



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