Now, a little patience and open mindedness, ladies and gentlemen, since I suspect that this clip with be of little interest either musically or in terms of content, but it is only a minute long, and it concerns a previously untold story from the World of Soundies.
By the fall of 1946 it was becoming increasing clear to the Mills home office in Chicago that the entire Soundies operation was in deep trouble. Changes in tastes and “after hours interests,” a post-war recession, and (most of all) the need to produce films without any income from Panoram sales, were all part of the picture. A “Hail Mary” was necessary, and there was serious discussion about entering the market of burlesque films, one that an inner office memo called “X venture subjects.” Conversations with filmmaker Leonard Anderson were ongoing. (Anderson was an East Eoast filmmaker who had directed a number of black cast featurettes from which excerpts had been licensed by Soundies.)
Leonard Anderson was clearly excited about the project, but he clearly jumped the gun. Shorts were produced in late 1946, but the first that Soundies executive William Forest Crouch learned about them was when “art title cards” were ordered in January 1947. By this time, however, Mills Novelty had decided to shut down operations. Anderson was left holding a series of burlesque Soundies for which a sale was no longer possible. His answer was to issue them instead as “Coincraft” shorts, to be distributed independently to jukebox operators.
The shorts themselves are cut-rate to the extreme, only a minute in length, often using pre-recorded soundtracks of little musical interest which are repeated in multiple subjects. Simple sets, often just a bare studio stage, are used with a single camera shooting in a long-shot. Burlesque dancers bared little, and their so-called erotic moves elicit a shake of the head in wonderment today.
So, may I suggest that you watch the short – it only lasts a minute – if only to see where Soundies might have gone. I think we can all agree that it was a blessing that Mills closed up shop before these films were released with the banner, “Soundies Presents.”