An Online Movie Jukebox
Watching the films in
It’s almost impossible to read about these films without wanting to see at least a few of them.
And with good reason.
These Soundies are an overlooked chapter in Black entertainment history—and American history—in the 1940s. They’re a snapshot of race relations in a turbulent era, reflected in the pop culture of the day.
To make it easier to watch as you read, this site has all of the Soundies available online that I discuss in the text.
Presented chapter by chapter, they’re a movie jukebox for the book.
The videos are embedded from YouTube. You can watch them there too, but if the idea is to keep reading, it’s probably best to watch here—fewer distractions, fewer rabbit holes.
Wherever you watch, here’s to the pleasure of discovering these films and their performers (with apologies for the ads that pop up). And exploring the little-known histories in Soundies and the Changing Image of Black Americans on Screen: One Dime at a Time.
Here’s a sneak preview.
More to come soon.
Part One. Follow the Money
Introduction: Turning on a Dime
1. Circa 1940:
Race and the Pop-Culture Landscape
2. Risky Business
3. Starting in Hollywood, Heading to Harlem
Part Two. Follow the Music
4. Going to War
5. Encounter and Improvisation:
Reimagining the City
6. Rural Reverb
7. Romance, Relationships, Legs
8. One Performer, Ten Soundies:
Another Look at Dorothy Dandridge
Cow-Cow Boogie (1942)
The most popular of Dandridge’s Soundies on YouTube. The tune, a smart hybrid of Western swing and boogie, reflects the cross-genre playfulness that is one of Soundies’ most distinctive traits.
9. Visual Music: Big Bands, Combos, Solo Musicians
10. Backing into Integration
11. Unplugged, with an Afterlife