All That Jazz: Jazz Cartoons and Shorts - Thur. May 5th - 8PM

Oddball Films presents All That Jazz: Jazz Cartoons and Shorts, a 16mm cinematic screening swinging with a heady and hip sound called Jazz.  The evening features antique musical shorts with tons of jazz greats like Maurice Rocco, Duke Ellington, Lester Young, Fats Waller, Cab Calloway and Ivie Anderson as well as a handful of animated films that feature jazz soundtracks and influence. We kick off our set with a classic of jazz cinema, Jammin' the Blues (1944), which features the coolest of cats, Lester Young, sitting in a relaxed slouch with his sax slung to his side as he wails a languorous line; a cigarette smolders, pinched between two fingers as he plays, but against the black background it looks as though his horn is smoking and you can see the tones floating up from it. The great Cab Calloway teams up with the Fleischer Brothers and Betty Boop for a double dose of rotoscoped cartoons: Old Man of the Mountain (1933) and Minnie the Moocher (1932) including the earliest footage of Calloway ever. Duke Ellington and Ivie Anderson bring us A Bundle of Blues (1932).  The surreal and stunning Vitaphone short Yamekraw (1930) features an all-black cast and a soundtrack by James P. Johnston. Norman McLaren's Begone Dull Care (1949) with music by the Oscar Peterson Trio, features animation influenced by the music and painted directly onto film. Lenny Bruce then riffs on hipster speak in Ernest Pintoff’s animation, The Interview (1960).  Fats Waller provides a delightfully wacky musical break with the Soundie Your Feet's Too Big (1941). Husband and wife animators John and Faith Hubley team up with Benny Carter for two groundbreaking cartoons Urbanissimo (1966) and The Adventures of an * (1956). Boogie woogie wildman Maurice Rocco hits us twice with Beat Me Daddy (1943) and Red Hot Heat (Sizzling Rhythm with a Beat) from 1937 featuring the Cotton Club Dancers in tinted sepiatone! Jimmy Rushing and the Count Basie Orchestra beg you to Take Me Back Baby (1949). It's a one of a kind evening of music, animation and improvisation.

Date: Thursday, May 5th, 2016 at 8:00pm
Venue: Oddball Films, 275 Capp St. San Francisco
Admission: $10.00 Limited Seating RSVP to or (415) 558-8117


Jammin’ the Blues (B+W, 1944)
Probably the most famous jazz film ever made- produced by jazz impresario Norman Granz, directed by Gjon Mili and featuring incredible performances by Lester “Prez” Young, Harry “Sweets” Edison, Illinois Jacquet, Barney Kessel, Marlowe Morris, John Simmons, George “Red” Callender, “Big” Sid Catlett and “Papa” Jo Jones.  Nominated for an Oscar in 1945 and entered into the National Film registry in 1955, this film simply must be seen by any serious jazz fan. Cinematography was by the later Hitchcock stalwart Robert Burks on his very first DP assignment.  There is a noir ambience to the film and each scene has a formal elegance that is enthralling. Mili has total command of his form (his only film as director!), and the mise-en-scene and continuity are impeccable. 

Cab Calloway teams up with Betty Boop!

Minnie the Moocher (B+W, 1931, Dave Fleischer)
We’d be saps if we didn’t include Betty Boop! After a fight with her folks, Miss Boop runs away from home, and all its surreal comforts -- and takes Bimbo with her! Taking refuge in a hollow of a tree, they encounter ghostly beings! Cab Calloway and his band provide most of the short's score appear in a live-action introduction. The thirty-second live-action segment is the earliest-known film footage of Calloway, whose gyrations were rotoscoped for the spooky, singing walrus.

Old Man of the Mountain (B+W, 1933)
Another Betty and Cab pairing to prove she was the jazz baby for the ages! When you want a strong female lead, authentic jazz soundtracks and hyper-surreal imagery, you need look no further than the Fleischer brothers, and this classic does not disappoint.

Jazz and Jive Soundies (B+W, 1949)

Fats Waller in “Your Feet’s Too Big” 
Fats sings about how his feet are too big to dance as he demonstrates how that is a problem on the dance floor. 

Count Basie Orchestra in “Take Me Back, Baby” 
Count Basie's legendary jazz/big band orchestra that lasted over 50 years from its founding in the mid-30s to Count Basie's death in 1984. One of Basie's saxophonists day dreams about winning back his lady love.  Vocals by Jimmy "Mr. Five by Five" Rushing.

Two By John and Faith Hubley with music by Benny Carter!

Urbanissimo (Color, 1966, John and Faith Hubley)
Famed animators John and Faith Hubley’s film tells the tale of a wily farmer who matches wits with a runaway “city” on legs. Dramatizing the blight perpetuated by chaotic urban development, this animated film tells the story of an unassuming little farmer, symbolic of non-urban man, who is sitting amidst natural surroundings enjoying the flowers and bees. He is interrupted by the entrance of a personified city which chews into his charming landscape. The urban monster is rampant and uncontrollable but the farmer is intrigued by its mobility and dynamic excitement. With a hoppin’ jazz soundtrack by the great Benny Carter with Maynard Ferguson and Ray Brown.

Adventures of an * (Color, 1956, John and Faith Hubley) 
The first film John and Faith Hubley produced together commissioned by the Guggenheim Museum, with music by jazz great Benny Carter. “They violated all the rules”, remembered once animator William Littlejohn, “They threw dust on the cels, and they worked with grease so the paint would run. It came out beautifully: everybody was awestruck that such a thing would work”.

We decided to do a film with music and no dialogue and to deal with abstract characters. We wanted to get a graphic look that had never been seen before. So we played with the wax-resist technique: drawing with wax and splashing it with watercolor to produce a resisted texture. We ended up waxing all the drawings and spraying them and double-exposing them. We did the backgrounds the same way. It photographed with a very rich waxy texture, which was a fresh look” – John Hubley 

Red Hot Heat (Sizzling Rhythm With a Beat) (1937, B+W & Tinted)
Adapted from the Warner Baxter/Joan Bennett film “Vogues of 1938”, this musical short features boogie woogie wildman Maurice Rocco in a sizzling version of  “Turn On That Red Hot Heat (Burn Your Blues Away)”.  Features the Cotton Club Singers and the Four Hot Shots dancers with a raucous ending and sepia tone not seen in the original.

Beat Me, Daddy (1943, B+W)
Features pianist Maurice Rocco performing the wild and raucous boogie woogie classic “Beat Me, Daddy, Eight to the Bar”, later performed by Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen.

Begone Dull Care (Color, 1949)
The great National Film Board of Canada animator Norman McLaren’s film without words. McLaren paints vibrant abstract images directly onto the film. “Begone Dull Care” shines with masterful use of scratching and painting on film stock. The film gives warmth and movement to compositions resembling a constantly morphing Jackson Pollock or Willem de Kooning painting, yet never fails to remind us of its very calculated aesthetics when it suddenly adapts to the score's slower movements and shifts from expressionistic and oversaturated explosions to minimalist vertical lines that vibrate accordingly to the score by the Oscar Peterson Trio. “Begone Dull Care” won six international prizes between 1949 and 1954.

undle of Blues (1933)
The natty Duke Ellington Orchestra swing in this stylish soundie gem, performing "Lightnin'" & "Rockin' in Rhythm" before easing into the centerpiece: Ivie Anderson`s bluesy and possibly most moving rendition rendition of "Stormy Weather" ever recorded. Moods shift rapidly in these miniature musical films as Florence Hill & Bessey Dudley dizzying tap routine to "Bugle Call Rag" perfectly demonstrates.

The Interview (Color, 1960)
Animated short by the brilliant Ernie Pintoff has square interviewer befuddled by fictional hipster jazz musician Shorty Petterstein (voiced by Lenny Bruce) as the Stan Getz combo blows and riffs “off camera”.  “Like, don’t hang me- I didn’t wanna fall up here in the first place!”

Yamekraw (B+W, 1930)
This Vitaphone short is set to James P. Johnston's ballad "Yamekraw: a Negro Rhapsody" and offers the semi-surreal tale of a man seduced and betrayed by the big city and deciding to return home to his dutiful wife.  Stunning, moody and expressive, this beautiful piece features expressionistic sets and marvelous scenes of the city dance hall.  The protagonist is played by Jimmy Mordecai from St. Louis Blues.  James P. Johnston is thought of as the original jazz pianist and was a precursor to Duke Ellington and Fats Waller, bridging ragtime music with early jazz.  He also composed the quintessential number of the Roaring 20's "The Charleston" and accompanied both Ethel Waters and Bessie Smith on piano.

For the Early Birds:

The Hat: Is This War Necessary? (Color, 1967)
An entertaining anti-war allegory of two soldiers on either side of a border line. When one soldier's hat flies off onto the other side of the border, he and the opposing soldier get into a fascinating conversation on the nature of aggression, adaptation and the absurdity of war. The soldiers voices are none other than Dudley Moore and Dizzy Gillespie, who improvised their parts in the Hubley's kitchen. For an in depth examination of The Hat, check out Michael Sporn's article here:

About Oddball Films
Oddball Films is a stock footage company providing offbeat and unusual film footage for feature films like Milk, documentaries like The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, Silicon Valley, Kurt Cobain: The Montage of Heck, television programs like Mythbusters, clips for Boing Boing and web projects around the world.

Our screenings are almost exclusively drawn from our collection of over 50,000 16mm prints of animation, commercials, educational films, feature films, movie trailers, medical, industrial military, news out-takes and every genre in between. We’re actively working to present rarely screened genres of cinema as well as avant-garde and ethno-cultural documentaries, which expand the boundaries of cinema. Oddball Films is the largest film archive in Northern California and one of the most unusual private collections in the US. We invite you to join us in our weekly offerings of offbeat cinema.