The short film that just induced fits of uncontrollable laughter and disbelief was made sometime in the late 1950s or early '60s. The singer was the late Joi Lansing (39 - 23 - 35), a stereotypical '50s blonde bombshell, who appears in quite a few little pre-MTV music productions such as this. Her supporting players were, presumably, random members of the catering staff and a couple of extras waiting around for their walk-on in a Roger Corman movie. The film was made by a company called Scopitone (French based) that marketed jukeboxes with movie screens. They had a brief run, but, for all that they would have provided the ultimate stoned goof, died out not long after the Beatles released Sgt. Pepper. But the films have survived. YouTube is littered with them. The B-52's Fred Schneider collects them. VJ Tom Yaz, currently doing Thursday, Friday, and Saturday "Night Gallery" video-bar nights (starting around 10 p.m.) at An Tua Nua, at 835 Beacon Street, was nice enough to slip me copies of some home-made DVDs that Schneider sent him. A fantastic collection to say the least.
Just as cable music-videos were able to push the envelopes of taste and propriety, these now-ancient little private-audience Scopitone productions gave directors a kind of freedom that Hollywood couldn't afford in the days of the Hays Code. So they tend to be a little . . . well, racy. For their time, anyway. And you want camp? You don't have to delve too deeply into the genre to find a big pink polka-dot pile of that. And real nostalgia buffs will appreciate that the common denominator among most American Scopitone films is go-go dancing. In fact, we suspect the Scopitone wardrobe department kept the entire 1961 Caldor's swimwear collection in its closet.
Just fire up YouTube and search "Scopitone." One thing will lead to another, and you will be richly rewarded. Soon, you will be driving your friends nuts sending them links to your latest discovery.
VJ Tom Yaz usually devotes his shows to Top-40 and oldies fare (because that's what casual audiences are most comfortable with), but aspires to lower art, and, if he has his way (negotiations were underway last I heard) he'll put on a special show at An Tua Nua on Monday, October 27. How special? Joi Lansing special. Hope it happens. Call the club (617.262.2121) to verify.
And I suggest showing up at Tom's regular weekend shows and -- heh-heh -- making some requests.
To further convince and seduce you, I'll offer one more below -- a loungy rendition of the 1923 noirish jazz standard "I Cried for You (Now It's Your Turn To Cry for Me)." Note the subtle symbolism of the babe lighting crooner Sonny King's already lit cigarette. The underwear scenes must be a metaphor for . . . can't imagine.