This is not a Soundie you’ll want to miss, so read on and then partake of the musical fun!
Take a popular dance band leader, in this case pianist Ted Fio Rito, who had been active since the early 1920s; add a fine arrangement of an old time hit, “Ma, He’s Making Eyes at Me”; throw in some fine jazz solos; then finish off with a comic vocal by Candy Candido and some neat trick photography of his performance. Here you have the recipe for a wonderful Soundie from 1942.
Ted Fio Rito led an immensely popular dance orchestra during the 1920s and 1930s, playing some of the top hotels and dance venues nationwide. Fio Rito always carried a handful of jazz soloists for the hotter numbers, and in this Soundie we hear Joe Masek’s booting tenor sax, Ernie Varner on modern-leaning electric guitar, and some frantic trumpet by Jimmy Zito. Modern jazz and the rise of the solo vocalist passed Fio Rito by, yet he was active into the 1960s. Fio Rito’s band appears on twenty-one Soundies soundtracks, and we’ll delve into his career more fully in a later post.
The band’s string bass player, Jonathan Joseph “Candy” Candido, had worked in Gene Austin’s jazz-influenced trio beginning in 1933. As a singer, Candido had a unique four-octave range, and he could change from bass to falsetto in the middle of a vocal performance. He parlayed this talent into a long and successful career as a voice-over artist, working frequently for Walt Disney. (It is his voice we hear behind the “angry apple tree” in The Wizard of Oz.) In Ma, He’s Making Eyes at Me, Candy plays two roles on soundtrack and screen, the girl and the male suitor, and the split screen process where he sings to himself is a real hoot
Don’t miss the conclusion of the Soundie where he breaks the fourth wall and addresses the audience directly. The answer to his question is in your lap!