Will Bradley & his Six Texas Hot Dogs perform on the Minoco Productions soundie Basin Street Boogie (1942).
Bradley had a bigger band than this, encountered on several other soundies, but the Six Texas Hot Dogs were an off-shoot selected from the orchestra to specialize in Dixieland. Inexplicably it's Bradley's only soundie with the Six, though he made ten more with the orchesra.
It looks like it's going to be an instrumental but all of a sudden drummer Ray McKinley bursts out with the lyrics, in the style of a hipster: "New Orleans is the land of blues & queens/ And there's more than one of each in New Orleans."
Though the lyrics aren't exactly inspired, McKinley has the perfect voice to sell it, & the boogie beat rules with great instrumental variety. Bradley is fabulous on his trumbone. Billy Maxted is at the piano. Ray Beller's on sax. Felix Globbe on bass. All good.
As it is mostly instrumentation, a young boogie woogie couple has been added to dance throughout. They're only average dancers to have scored a gig on a soundie, but they lend period glamor even so.
Will Bradley & His Orchestra are arrayed around a junk store playing their instruments, while the displeased shop owner presses his fingers in his ears, with Bradley's trumbone solo poking the slide bar in his face.
The soundie Deed I Do (1944) just tosses us into this unexpected scenario without explanation, making it look an awfully lot like an out of context film clip, which it isn't.
Into the shop a young couple saunters. They're the dance team "Lloyd & Willis" known to me only from two Will Bradley soundies. Their appearance adds to the sense of this being a film clip, as they could've been the stars of some minor musical comedy rather than obscure extras for a three-minute soundie.
Lloyd & Willis take an immediate liking the music, bursting into a tap routine, with a clarinet solo backing them up. Trumpet & sax solos will follow, with even a brief drum solo.
The staging is cute if inexplicable & the instrumental is competent & commercial. Will Bradley soundies are just never among my faves & his orchestra tends always to sound the same.
Will Bradley & His Orchestra impose a boogie-woogie beat on the kiddie-tune or bumpkin chestnut "Chicken Reel" in Barnyard Bounce (1941), providing hepcat lyrics for the familiar tune, on the same familiar seen in a couple of his other soundies.
Will's drummer Ray McKinley has the lyrics: "The farmers have a dance that they all like to do/ It really is a killer though it never was new/ They got it in a barnyard a-way before the Greeks/ From the chickens that were a-grubbin' & a peckin' with their beaks./ Peck on! Better loosen up your collar/ Latch on with your tail feathers out," & so on.
The song may have intended to attach itself to the "peckin'" dance fad for dancing like a chicken. Even though that fad was long over, middle-aged soundies producers may not have realized it, & thought it all current enough to revive the original Peckin' (1942) featuring the Three Chocolateers.
Though the lyrics for Barnyard Bounce are silly it's really quite a fun soundie. The camera lingers on the drummer who has two groupies fawning over him. Not until the instrumental break is the entire orchestra shown, & the novelty number has serious charm, a fine trumbone solo from Will, & suprisingly high in muscality even while still recognizeable as the chicken-reel song it started out as.
In Boardwalk Boogie (1941) staged as a beach party, the camera pans over a small audience that seems to be in ecstacy watching Will Bradley in a white suit with his orchestra & his trumbone. But I never quite feel it.
When the boogie woogie couple takes the dance floor, that's the only part I like, oh, & the fact that the little audience is integrated, that's nice too.
Boardwalk Boogie was included in the one-reel compilation called Swing Melodies (1947) together with Vince "Blue" Mondi, who constitutes a band by himself, performing "St. Louis Blues" in One Man Band (1944) & Dick Thomas in the western swing ode to a cowboy's spurs Jingle Jangle Jingle (1942). Lumping these three soundies into one film seems to have no further basis than all three performances have a certain quality of goofiness.
Jingle Jungle Jingle is a western swing song written by Frank Loesser. It's filmed as a pretty big production with a choras line of girls with horse-heads sticking out of their midriffs, & a mimed comedy routine featuring Billy Bletcher.
Vince "Blue" Mondi was a vaudevillian who got a three-minute condensation of his act as the novelty soundie One Man Band. He plays rhythm guitar & has mounted before him an array of megaphones which he uses to amplify mouth-trumpet or other mouth-instrumentation, plus kazoos, a whistle, & ther's a drum kit to his right.
Because soundies producers liked to include beautiful babes whenever they could, we can assume Blue wouldn't have had the girls in bellhop hats & tiny skirts flanking him in his vaudeville stage performances, though who knows, vaudeville blended almost without distinction into burlesque.
He's so intent on his accumulation of junk that he doesn't convey much personality, though he's quite charming when he finally begins to sing some of the lyrics to "Saint Louis Blues."
The pre-recorded music of Amor (1944) is provided by the Will Bradley Orchestra. The soundie opens with Billie Joyce shaking maracas & singing "Amor, amor, amor/ This word so sweet that I repeat means I adore you/ Amor, amor, my love/ Would you deny this heart that I have palced before you..."
Billie sings it well, & she's quite pleasing to the eye. The staged setting is a garden, with Billie standing on rather Spanish looking staired terrace with arbor.
At the instrumental break, the camera shows more of the garden, & in come the Mildred Ray Dancers doing a chorus girl rhumba in long gowns, high heels, & goofy gaucho hats with little pompoms dangling around the brims. Seven in number, like the Pleides, they're kind of horrible.
Generally the reason one doesn't see the band in films like this one is because they didn't come back the next day to mime the pre-recorded performances. But for Amor we do occasionally glimpse a the heads of some of the band members along the bottom edge of the screen.
The dancers rather screw it up, but eventually Billie takes up the lyric again, so it has a so-so close. This soundie was included in the three-part home-movie Tropical Serenaders (1946).
copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl