Stars of the past who were not necessarily working regularly, and new talent on the way up: In both cases, Soundies producers could get experienced performers who would not demand a top salary, but who also possessed some marquis value. These actors and actresses had the experience and poise to get the job done efficiently and often with some panache. Such is the case with A Feller Who Plays in the Band.

Susan Miller was a fine pop singer who appeared regularly in B features during the 1940s. She made her last film in 1948, but continued performing in nightclubs and on the variety stage for many years. Miller can be seen in such wartime entertainments as Swing It, Soldier and Juke Box Jenny, as well as in a number of short subjects. But for me, her finest hour is the role of Ouilotta Hemoglobin in the W.C. Fields’ classic Never Give a Sucker An Even Break. As a trained and professional singer working regularly in Hollywood, Miller was a natural for Soundies and was hired for five musical shorts in 1941.

The various members of the Keystone Kops, stars of comedy shorts produced in the 1920s by Mack Sennet, were also working in Hollywood, and they can be found in dozens of features, almost always in smaller bit parts. Soundies regularly featured these veterans, both as a group (billed as “The Original Keystone Kops”) and as individual sideline extras. Here, William Irving plays the part of the beleaguered neighbor who is being kept awake by the music downstairs. After his stint with Sennet, Irving worked regularly, although usually uncredited, in both silent and sound films. He passed away in 1943, and this is one of his final film appearances.

Last, we have band leader Will Osborne, who appears here as Miller’s love interest. While Osborne is known for leading a sweet band, like so many other, his music took a decided turn toward hotter music late in the 1930s and during the war years. He takes an extended clarinet solo here, and we can hear that he is a far more inventive soloist than perhaps we had imagined. The surprise ending had been used before, but it works well for this Soundie.

“A Feller Who Play In the Band”was written by producer Sam Coslow, a tunesmith who could pop them out like waffles. His small film company, Cameo Productions, released close to 30 Soundies in 1941. For this film, and all in his Cameo series, Coslow utilized the talents of Josef Berne, a filmmaker who so effectively tell a story in three minutes that he ultimately was called upon to direct almost 300 Soundies, along with selected shorts and a handful of feature films. His final film is the deliciously-titled Catskill Honeymoon, a Yiddish language feature from 1950.

Josef Berne work closely with Mack Stengler, a prolific and talented cinematographer who carefully plotted each and every Soundie that he worked on A fine song, talented cast and professional production team makes this a Soundie worth viewing any number of times!