Soundies

OVERVIEW

“Soundies” are 35mm  B&W mini-movies that run approximately 3 minutes each,  reduced to 16mm as content for a video predecessor of today’s music (audio) juke boxes, mostly between 1940 and 1947.   Their fascinating detailed story is in the sections which follow this Introduction.  About 2,000 of these shorts — many with “big bands” and their featured singers, others in  a wide range of musical genres, and still others with vaudeville- or burlesque- style entertainment — were produced. In the years that followed 1947, many of them were reissued for home viewing. We have approximately 500 of them, of which about 350 have been digitally mastered and restored. We have released the digitally mastered and restored ones on the “Mr. FAT-W Video” label; the links on the bottom of this section will take you directly to Amazon.com to purchase the DVDs.  The first DVD listed,  for the David Amram Soundies, includes commentaries of fourteen Soundies by the legendary David Amram, who is so important musically that there is a separate page on this site, following this one.

The video players following this paragraph give you an idea of what they look like, and demonstrate how high our technical quality is: “Fan Dance” is performed by the striptease artiste Sally Rand, who virtually invented both modern striptease, and the concept of the “fan dance;” music is by Lud Gluskin.  “Rain on the Roof” is sung by Maxine Gray, backed up by The Cameo Girls, with music by the David Rose Orchestra.   The third video is “Deep in the Heart of Texas,” with Van Alexander and his Orchestra; Alexander was a major figure in the American popular music world, who has faded into obscurity — he arranged “A Tisket, A Basket” for Ella Fitzgerald, which became her biggest hit.  The fourth is “The Night We Met In Honomu,” with popular singer Lanny Ross backed up by Roy Bargy’s orchestra.  Most, if not all, of the “Soundies” were filmed without sound, and the sound was added later; as a result, sometimes, songs and dialogue may look a tiny bit out of synch, like a dubbed movie.