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Soundies have been called the music videos of the 1940s, but that doesn’t begin to describe their cultural importance. It’s true that they feature a remarkable range of talent, from big-band luminaries like Duke Ellington and Count Basie to then-emerging stars like Doris Day and Ricardo Montalban, and lesser-known artists of the American nightclub circuit. But Soundies are also a rich, largely overlooked chronicle of American popular culture during and just after World War II. Produced for coin-operated jukeboxes in neighborhood bars and taverns, Soundies have an uncanny way of revealing what Americans were thinking about topics that weren’t discussed openly, from sexuality to ethnicity and race. Curated by Susan Delson, author of Soundies and the Changing Image of Black Americans on Screen: One Dime at a Time, this four-disc collection presents a diverse sampling of 200 shorts—jazz, country-western, folk, and the boogie woogie roots of rock ’n’ roll—newly restored from 35mm and 16mm materials preserved by the Library of Congress and other archives. Never have so many Soundies been celebrated in one collection, or presented with such care: thematically organized, accompanied by on-screen introductions and a booklet of essays, photos, and credits.
• Illustrated 44-page booklet with essays by Susan Delson, Ellen C. Scott, and Mark Cantor
• Filmed introductions by series curator Susan Delson, with Ina Archer, Media Conservationist, National Museum of African American History and Culture
• “Inside the Panoram,” a filmed interview with Mark Cantor, author of The Soundies: A History and Catalog of Jukebox Film Shorts of the 1940s
• “From the Vaults,” a filmed interview with Matt Barton (Curator of Recording Sound at the National Audio-Visual Conservation Center at the Library of Congress) and Mike Mashon (Head of the Moving Image Section of the Library of Congress)