Thursday, November 3, 2011

Groovie Movie [1944]

In the 1930s, MGM was forced to create a lot of material to fill the programs of its vast empire of movie houses. At that time, an evening at the movies included two features, interspersed with various "short subjects" which included newsreels, travelogues, cartoons, documentaries, and other items. One of the most successful producers of shorts was a man named Pete Smith who had a quirky, nasal voice. His shorts were almost surrealistic, featuring a wide variety of experts (archers, bowlers, horsehoe pitchers, etc) doing seemingly impossible tricks. Instead of being a diversion, the Pete Smith Specialties came to be major attractions. People would come to see a picture that was a real stinker if the marquee said "New Pete Smith Short."
In 1942, Smith took on Jitterbug in a film short called Groovie Movie, a comical look at the world of Swing dancing, starring Jean Veloz, Arthur Walsh, Chuck Saggau, and Irene Thomas. The 9 minute film spoofs both dance instruction and efforts to find high culture in jitterbug. Taking on the Arthur Murray visual techniques, Jean and Arthur appear in uniforms that are half black and half white with foot- and hand-prints to show proper position. An animated sequence of footprints begins logically and soon becomes a hopelessly complicated mess. Through the parody and comedy, Groovie Movie shows some of the finest examples of the Hollywood Style of Lindy Hop that have ever been filmed. Today, Swing dancers continue to mine this cult film for dance moves and techniques.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...