Most Hollywood films about musicians that were made during the studio era were usually biopics and focused on individual artists such as George Gershwin (Rhapsody in Blue, 1945) and Glenn Miller (The Glenn Miller Story, 1954). It was rare to see a feature film that detailed the ups and downs of an entire band and, in the case of 1941’s Blues in the Night, the featured jazz sextet was entirely fictitious. Originally titled Hot Nocturne, the name was changed just prior to its theatrical release to capitalize on the Harold Arlen-Johnny Mercer hit song that became its signature tune.
When the United States officially entered World War II after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Hollywood got busy producing morale-boosting entertainments with a heavy accent on flag-waving patriotism and pro-American propaganda. One of the stranger efforts to emerge from this uncertain time in U.S. history was First Yank in Tokyo (1945), a B-movie espionage thriller directed by Gordon Douglas and set inside a Japanese concentration camp. Continue reading
Long before it ever became available for the home video market, The Girl in Black Stockings would occasionally pop up on late night television screenings in unexpected places like Turner Classic Movies. Such a lurid, sensationalistic crime drama was a natural fit for the drive-ins of its era but it actually makes sense that TCM would air this rarely seen obscurity because The Girl in Black Stockings is a classic sleazefest and definitely several notches above the standard exploitation drive-in fare that tantalized audiences in the late fifties before the advent of more explicit films like Blood Feast (1963). Continue reading