Film critic, curator, and historian J. Hoberman has written a wonderful essay about Soundies, which went online this weekend at the New York Review of Books.
Describing Soundies as “social hieroglyphs,” Hoberman enriches an account of their history with specific films in the Kino Lorber set, from Dance, Baby, Dance (“Tantze Babele”) to I Shut My Mouth for Uncle Sam.
With a historian’s eye, he adds wonderful tidbits to our collective Soundies knowledge—including the little-known fact that “Mi Chee” (née Machiko Takaoka), the miniature dancer in Hoagy Carmichael’s Hong Kong Blues, was also known as Myrtle Goldfinger.
“Delson’s curation is creative,” Hoberman writes about Soundies: The Ultimate Collection, adding that “her strongest points are made through juxtaposition. The introductory section basically alternates Black bands and performers with white ones, allowing viewers to draw their own conclusions about the origins and virtuosi of American entertainment.”
In closing, he writes: “To use a term that migrated from Black slang to general usage during the 1940s, Soundies: The Ultimate Collection is a deep dig. . . . Not just nostalgia buffs or cultural historians but Tik Tokers will find much to mine here.”