As far as the general public was concerned, the bizarre visual humor of Spike Jones and his City Slickers premiered on the Panoram screen. While the band had a handful of bookings in Los Angeles in the early 1940s, its performance in four 1942 Soundies was the first major step toward international fame. They began recording for R.C.A. Victor in mid-1942 recording, and feature films and television appearances would follow. But the Soundies audience could claim to have been the first to see the group on screen.
In the late 1930s and early 1940s, Lindley “Spike” Jones was a talented and highly successful studio drummer. Jones had been a member of John Scott Trotter’s band and can be heard on many recordings backing Bing Crosby. Jones’s evolution from on-call musician to leader of the finest of comedy bands is expertly told by Jordan Young in Spike Jones Off the Record: The Man Who Murdered Music.
The use of visual puns and surrealistic gags would make the City Slickers an audience favorite, and in 1942 they introduced their zany comedy to a wider audience via their Soundies. All four shorts were produced by Herbert Moulton’s production unit that worked out of Hal Roach Studios in Culver City. There is a very polished feel to this short, and more sight gags than one usually sees in a three-minute film.
Pass the Biscuits, Mirandy, is a favorite, not only for the comedy, but also for the extremely well-played music. The City Slickers may have been a comedy band, but the professionalism of the musicians is always evident.
And a final thought: How the image of Mirandy straddling the cannon got passed the censors is beyond me.