Soundies at the Orphan Film Symposium

Courtesy Orphan Film Symposium, NYU

In April, the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria is hosting the 14th edition of the Orphan Film Symposium—and Soundies will be there.

On Saturday, April 13, I’ll present a short Soundies program on this year’s symposium theme of “Work and Play”—six films that combine performance, play, work, and music in unexpected ways.

It’s part of the 2:45 p.m. “Soundworks” program, which also features presentations on DeVry Cine-Tone Films of the late 1920s, the Black-owned Pyramid Pictures Corporation of the early 1920s, and the enigmatically titled “Leo Roars!”

The Orphan Film Symposium kicks off with a reception and screening on Wednesday evening, April 10. Programs run from 9:30 or 10 a.m. into the evening on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, April 11-13.

More details:

A Soundies Conversation at the Academy Museum in L.A.


I’m honored to be part of the Regeneration Summit, a celebration of Black cinema coming to the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles this weekend.

I’ll be speaking on the panel “Soundies 101: A Hidden History,” talking about the films, performers, and cultural history that I wrote about in the book.

I’ll be in conversation with artist and media conservation specialist Ina Archer, who did several of the intros for the upcoming Kino Lorber Soundies collection (see the post just below this one); archivist and jazz-on-film scholar Mark Cantor, who was so vital to the book; film researcher Manouchka Labouba; and our moderator Doris Berger, co-curator of the museum’s milestone exhibition “Regeneration: Black Cinema 1898-1971.”

The panel is at 1 p.m. on Saturday, February 4, followed by a meet-and-greet in the museum bookstore at 2.

If you’re in the LA area, I’d love to see you there.

Coming Up: Wednesday, September 7

Co-Hosting Soundies on TCM (Turner Classic Movies)


John Shadrack Horace and Johnny Moore’s 3 Blazers in “Along the Navajo Trail” (1945), one of the Soundies I’ll introduce on TCM on Wednesday night, September 7

Mark your calendar and save the date! On Wednesday, September 7, I’ll join Turner Classic Movies host Dave Karger to introduce 3 programs of Soundies, paired with 3 different feature films.

At 9:30 p.m. Eastern time, we’ll talk about “Soundies–Before They Were Stars,” featuring Dorothy Dandridge, Ricardo Montalban, a teenage Doris Day, and others, followed by Day’s big breakthrough movie, “Romance on the High Seas” (1948).

At 11:30 p.m. Eastern time, it’s “Soundies–Battle of the Band Leaders, Part One,” with classic Soundies by Gene Krupa, Cab Calloway, Stan Kenton, and others, leading into “Orchestra Wives” (1942).

Closing the night at 1:30 a.m. Eastern (10:30 p.m. for the West Coast crowd), “Soundies–Country Classics” features a terrific duet by Carolina Cotton and Merle Travis, and a rare Soundies find: “Along the Navajo Trail, starring John Shadrack Horace and Johnny Moore’s 3 Blazers, followed by “Your Cheatin’ Heart” (1964).

Two weeks later, Dave and I will be back with another Soundies night on September 21.

From “Along the Navajo Trail” (1945)

Save the Date! Soundies on TCM, Wednesday, September 21

Co-Hosting the 2nd Program of Soundies on TCM (Turner Classic Movies)


“Good-Nite All,” 1943, one of the Soundies I’ll introduce in the “Swing Music and Dance” program on September 21

Two weeks after our first set of Soundies programs on September 7 (see entry below), Dave Karger and I are back on Wednesday, September 21 with another night of Soundies paired with feature films.

At 8 p.m. Eastern time, we’ll start with “Soundies — Swing Music and Dance,” featuring classic Soundies by Duke Ellington, Louis Jordan, the Charioteers, and more—including one of my favorites, “Good-Nite All,” followed by Jordan in “Reet, Petite and Gone” (1947).

At 9:30 p.m. Eastern, it’s “Soundies — Battle of the Band Leaders, Part Two,” with Jimmy Dorsey, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and yes, Lawrence Welk! Followed by “Cabin in the Sky” (1943).

At 11:30 p.m. Eastern, we’ll close with “Soundies — Joining the War Effort,” featuring Soundies by Doris Day, Louis Jordan, and some wonderful discoveries–including Toni Lane, who turns in a terrific performance on “When Hitler Kicks the Bucket.”

I hope you’ll mark your calendar and tune in for both evenings. For details, check the TCM monthly calendar in September. 

“Good-Nite All” (1943)

Live Screening & Presentation: Film Forum NYC

“Soundies: Glamour, Gender and A Little More Libido”

Ed Coleman of Day, Dawn, and Dusk in “Faust”

In celebration of Pride Month, on Monday, June 20 at 6:30 p.m., I’ll be at Film Forum with another program pulled from the full Soundies catalog—this one featuring films that play with and push back on stereotypes of women and the exclusionary, emphatically heterosexual culture of the World War II era. 


Along with early-career glimpses of Dorothy Dandridge, dancer Cyd Charisse, and Fantasy Island star Ricardo Montalban, the program spotlights Soundies performers who reflect a looser, more expansive vision of 1940s America—including vocal trio Day, Dawn, and Dusk, the fabulous De Castro Sisters, and “dance impersonator” Arica Wild.  Monday, June 20 at 6:30 p.m.

Monday, JUNE 20 6:30pm
$9.00 Member
$15.00 Regular


Film Forum

209 West Houston St. west of 6th Ave.
Map and Directions
Box Office: 212-727-8110

Virtual Book Talk: Desmond-Fish Library

Desmond-Fish2 3 20 22

On Sunday, March 20 at 4 p.m. (Eastern time), nationally acclaimed jazz musician  Gwen Laster will join me for an online Soundies conversation.

The program is presented by the Desmond-Fish Public Library in collaboration with Split Rock Books in Cold Spring, where Hudson Valley readers can pick up the book before, during, and after the event. 

Can’t wait to hear Gwen’s thoughts on Soundies–especially the ones with women musicians. I hope you’ll join us for an hour of conversation, music, and Soundies.

Missed the conversation?   Watch it here.


4 P.M.
Desmond-Fish Public Library



Live Screening & Presentation: Film Forum


Background images: Dorothy Dandridge in "A Zoot Suit"
Background images: Dorothy Dandridge in “A Zoot Suit”

For friends in the New York area, on Thursday, February 10 at 6:50 p.m., I’ll be at Film Forum with a program pulled from the full Soundies catalog—part of the series “NYC’s Movie Renaissance 1945-1955.”


The program focuses on Soundies shot and set in New York, including many Black-cast Soundies filmed at the old Edison studios in the Bronx. On screen: Duke Ellington, Nat “King” Cole, and Sister Rosetta Tharpe, among others, along with a teenage Doris Day and a very young Liberace. Thursday, Feb. 10 at 6:50 p.m.

Thursday, Feb. 10 6:50pm
$9.00 Member
$15.00 Regular


Film Forum

209 West Houston St. west of 6th Ave.
Map and Directions
Box Office: 212-727-8110
Part of the series NYC’S MOVIE RENAISSANCE 1945 – 1955

Radio Conversation: WBAI


Courtesy Muzen Audio

On Friday, Jan. 28 at 1 p.m., I’ll be on the WBAI radio show “Lopate at Large,” talking about the book and the upcoming Feb. 10 Soundies program at Film Forum.


We’ll be joined by film historian Richard Koszarski, whose terrific new book on postwar New York filmmaking inspired the Film Forum series that my Soundies program is part of: “NYC’s Movie Renaissance 1945–1955.” Should be an interesting conversation!

Missed the conversation? Listen to it in the WBAI archive:


Friday, jan. 28             1 pm
WBAI 99.5 FM





Virtual Book Talk: Dora Maar House

On Sunday, January 23 (11 a.m. NY,  5 p.m. France), I’ll be Zooming with award-winning author Gwen Strauss, director of Dora Maar House—the writing residency where the book got its start. Whatever you might have in your cup—a morning coffee, an evening cocktail—I hope you’ll join us for an hour of conversation and Soundies.

Missed the conversation?  Watch it on the Dora Maar YouTube channel:


SUNDAY, Jan. 23
11 a.m. Eastern
5 p.m. in France
Dora Maar House logo