It’s time to cross an unexplored bridge in the World of Soundies, one that leads to the land of polka music. It is important to remember that emigration from Poland, Prussia, and Germany started well before our country’s independence; it accelerated with the growth of the Nazi threat in the 1930s and early 1940s.

These immigrants carried with them a love of music, and in many cases, the music of choice was the polka.  At least fifty Soundies present this style, and here we sample something a bit more authentic than “commercial” polka sounds.

Bandleader Stanley Mroczek was born in Poland. He came to the United States in 1936. By 1940 he had settled in Queens, New York where he found employment as a studio musician working on local radio. Many of the notices in the trades show Mroczek working under the name Robert Stanley, playing popular music in nightclubs and the radio, and supporting pop performers like Anita Ellis and and Dick Todd. This Soundies series is the only film evidence of Mroczek leading his own band playing polka music. (In all fairness, Mroczek’s band is augmented by studio musicians hired by director Jack Shaindlin.)

Comic lead Stanislaw Nasielski, later Stanley Selansky/Sielanski, arrived in the United States in 1940, a Polish refugee from Lodz running from the Nazi menace. In Poland, he had been a well-known film and stage comedian. Here in the States, he was active on the entertainment scene during the 1940s, likely in smaller venues that catered to ethnic entertainment. (I am not sure if the comic patter he uses is Polish or just a rhythmic mumbo-jumbo.)

Led by Bronislaw Matusz, the Matusz Polish Dance Group appeared in public from 1935 to 1961.

Oira Polka was written and/or arranged by Mroczek. On-screen we move between the band, the dancers, and the comedy featuring Sielanski. Keep in mind that this short would be on a reel with swing- or pop-oriented Soundies, so most viewers would have enjoyed a diversion to something different. I hope that is true of members of this group, too!