Popular movie songs on this album include ‘Over the Rainbow’, ‘A Couple of Swells’ and ‘The Boys In the Back Room’. This album features our favourite artists and seasoned performers from the theatre and film industry.
“The voices, such as Ella Fitzgerald, Bing Crosby and Peggy Lee jump out of the speakers with vivid fidelity and are a living presence. The Big Bands live again with unmatched clarity and Movies are recalled by such greats as Fred Astaire, Judy Garland and Doris Day and many others. In effect, the artists seem to actually live again.” Norman Linnell, Birmingham
Experiments with synchronised sound had been carried out from almost the beginning of motion picture history, but it took nearly thirty years for sound officially to arrive in the cinema, when the audience at the Warner Theatre in New York on 6 October 1927 at the premiere of The Jazz Singer heard Al Jolson sing and speak from the screen. It was a milestone in cinema history; movie stars could now not only talk, they could sing and dance as well and the cinema-going public loved it.
Throughout the 1930s and 1940s a succession of musical films created a veritable galaxy of singing and dancing movie stars. Some were already seasoned performers from the theatre and elsewhere, but others learned their craft in the film studios of Hollywood. The first track on this album features one of each: Fred Astaire had starred in top-flight musicals by the likes of George Gershwin and Cole Porter on Broadway and in London for more than fifteen years before he made his first film in 1933, whereas Judy Garland, although she started as a child performer in vaudeville, was only fourteen when she began her movie career as a fresh-faced youngster. These two unique artists make a wonderful team singing A Couple Of Swells from Easter Parade, one of the top films of 1948. Astaire appears again later in the album with Night And Day, the hit song from The Gay Divorcee (1934), which was the first film in which he and Ginger Rogers were cast as the leads following their show-stealing performance of The Carioca in Flying Down To Rio the previous year. Ginger Rogers is heard later singing The Piccolino from the 1935 Astaire-Rogers hit Top Hat. Garland also appears again in what was to become her theme song, the poignant Over The Rainbow, which the studio bosses at MGM originally wanted to cut from the 1939 blockbuster The Wizard Of Oz. Another star whose career was made entirely in Hollywood was Betty Grable, a petite but curvaceous blonde who began in 1930 as a member of the chorus in several movie musicals, including the screen version of Eddie Cantors Whoopee, and spent the rest of the decade playing bit parts in mainly forgettable films. She got her big break when she replaced Alice Faye in the 1940 Technicolor extravaganza Down Argentine Way, and it made her a star. With her friendly girl-next-door personality and shapely legs, she became the favourite pin-up of the American forces during the Second World War. She later married the trumpeter and bandleader Harry James, who accompanies her in I Cant Begin To Tell You from The Dolly Sisters.