Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Hollywood Calling

After the Big Bands, Armstrong's next stop was Hollywood, where he appeared in movies that were usually little more than a series of musical events strung together by some flimsy dialog. They were the music videos of their day, and about as deep. But, they give you a sense of Armstrong as a performer. Here he is "debuting" the song Jeepers Creepers. Since it would never do for a black man to sing a love song in a movie watched by whites, he has to sing to a horse:

But, check out Public Melody Number One which shows a much more *adult* Armstrong than you might be used to. Warning: he shares screen-time with (ugh) Martha Raye:

Pops quotes critics who thought the above was too heated for polite company. Note also the lyrical references to J. Edgar Hoover and Al Capone. Armstrong had a lot of trouble with Chicago gangsters after his initial rush of fame, as they began fighting over the right to "manage" him. Incredibly, Armstrong had to flee Chicago and New York in order to get away from the gangsters.

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