Post content here
This is one of those Soundies where an extended essay could be written about it and still not cover the subject completely. So, pardon me while I discuss Emily Brown with broad brush strokes.
“Here Comes Emily Brown” was a popular song written in 1930, given new life in 1943 when it was produced as a Soundie by a small “provider” called Glamourettes. The company was established by Sydney Williams, and in a stroke of good luck Williams was able to hire David Gould to direct his shorts. Gould had been involved in filmmaking for many years, largely as a dance director. His work can be seen in the Astaire and Rogers musicals Flying Down to Rio (1933) and Gay Divorcee (1934), and his attention to detail is evident throughout this Soundie.
While Williams’ original intent was to produce 144 Soundies, only twelve Glamourettes shorts made it to the Panoram screen. Since all of them were produced during the recording ban, Gould had to rely on either nonunion musicians, or pre-recorded music tracks, in this case licensed from the Sam Fox Agency. “Here Comes Emily Brown” was an instrumental track, and Gould had vocalist Bob Parrish record the vocal over the recording on April 16, 1943.
Gould’s direction is basic and uncomplicated, but it gets the job done, and done well. Production records are largely missing for this series, but a tip of the Dodger cap to two other heroes of this Soundie, those in charge of wardrobe and set design. The transformation from showgirls to bridesmaids via a costume change is very effective, but even more so are the backdrops. The first set is tilted in a Caligari-esque manner, the second realistic in an almost cartoonish manner. The surprise is not that they work, but rather that the budget allowed for this, and the set designer took advantage of the creative opportunity. At the Soundies’ conclusion, we dolly back and view the performers through yet another backdrop, something unique in Soundies.
African American baritone Bob Parrish was born in Miami and first gained public recognition on the West Coast when he was praised for a successful appearance at the Orpheum Theater in downtown Los Angeles. Parrish was then featured with Major Bowes on radio, followed by Parrish booking on the West Coast throughout the 1930s. He appeared with Eddie Cantor on the airwaves, after which he accepted a lengthy engagement in Australia. Upon his return Parrish performed on Broadway in The Hot Mikado (1939), followed by many years on the variety stage. Parrish’s voice seems almost classically trained, and while he might not employ a great deal of jazz phrasing, he is perfect for this particular number.
Born Elizabeth Dozier, Chinky Grimes was a Los Angeles–based dancer and showgirl who appeared on the theater stage, as well as in more formal revues, throughout the late 1930s and 1940s. The other show girls were all active on the West Coast, performing in theater reviews and nightclubs. While uncredited on screen, the production files identify them as the Harlemettes. Left to right we see Anise Boyer, Artie Brandon, Hilda Brown, and Juanita Moore. The dance routine is fairly simple, made up of steps that would have been very familiar to the chorines. I see one adaption of the Charleston, and also the Bradley Twist. There was little rehearsal, but these women are such professionals that it looks like they’ve been doing the routine on stage for months.
The length of this introduction suggests that I am very enthusiastic about this Soundie. So very true. This is a real winner, and I hope you agree.