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Cool World: Jazz and the Movies

January 12, 2008 - February 6, 2008

Too Late Blues, January 12

This ain’t for squares, you dig? Jazz in the movies has always been Hollywood’s way of feigning hip. After all, those blue notes offered entrée to the torrid underbelly of dank bars, loose women, and hazy reefer. This was the cool world, haunted by tortured artists blowing a new sound. Admittedly, Hollywood movies often hit a sour note. But when they didn’t, it could be all reet, like the music—sometimes ghosted by such greats as Harry James, Gene Krupa, and Charles McPherson, or with the likes of Dave Brubeck, Louis Armstrong, Jackie McLean, and Charles Mingus cutting loose for the camera. Jazz also allowed Hollywood to play it on the outside, looking askew at risky issues like racism and illicit drugs. There are films like All Night Long, Paris Blues, and Sweet Love, Bitter that approach racial prejudice like a not-so-subtle pianist pounding the black and white; and medicinal movies like The Man with the Golden Arm, The Gene Krupa Story, and The Connection, more wide-eyed than a just-hyped junkie. If there is a through-line syncopating all these films, it would be that jazz finds its source in the wounded soul, in the damaged artist searching for a way-out way out. Join us for nine musical movies that are always offbeat.

Steve Seid
Video Curator

Saturday, January 12, 2008
6:30 p.m. Beware
An engaging vehicle for alto saxophonist and R&B singer Louis Jordan, set at an all-black college. “With the hot swing here, one can savor the students’ temptations toward boogie-woogie.”—Scott Simmon

Saturday, January 12, 2008
6:30 p.m. Beware

Saturday, January 12, 2008
8:10 p.m. Too Late Blues
John Cassavetes’s too-lately appreciated drama starring Bobby Darrin, “capturing the argot—swift, hardboiled and sometimes poetic—of music-making hipsters without a cause.”—Albert Johnson. Music performed offscreen by Shelly Manne and others.

Saturday, January 19, 2008
8:40 p.m. The Man with the Golden Arm
“Frank Sinatra’s performance is pure gold” (Pauline Kael) in this breakthrough Hollywood film on dope addiction that jazz can’t cure.

Sunday, January 20, 2008
7:00 p.m. The Gene Krupa Story
The great drummer dubbed his own riffs in this biopic starring 19-year-old Sal Mineo, who never misses a beat.

Thursday, January 24, 2008
8:40 p.m. Sweet Love, Bitter
A newly revived gem from the ’60s based on the life of Charlie Parker, with radical black comedian Dick Gregory in the solo spot. Music by Mal Waldron and others.

Sunday, January 27, 2008
6:15 p.m. The Connection
Junkies waiting for a fix, rapping, jiving, blowing cool jazz in Shirley Clarke’s great American independent film from 1961.

Thursday, January 31, 2008
8:50 p.m. Young Man with a Horn
Kirk Douglas, Hoagy Carmichael, moanin’ low in a Hollywood rendering of Bix Beiderbecke’s life. Trumpet solos ghosted by Harry James, Jimmy Zito. Also featuring Lauren Bacall, Doris Day.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008
6:30 p.m. Paris Blues
A great Duke Ellington score, Louis Armstrong in fine form, and, oh yes, Paul Newman and Sidney Poitier in Paris. Dig it.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008
8:30 p.m. All Night Long
This jazz curio recasts Othello in a ’60s London loft, where Mingus and Brubeck are just two of the players.

Thanks to Elliot Lavine, programmer and enthusiast; Chuy Varela, program director, KCSM Jazz 91; Mike Mashon, Motion Picture, Broadcasting, and Recorded Sound Division, Library of Congress; Caroline Yeager, George Eastman House; Mark Toscano and Brian Meacham, Academy Film Archive; Ross Lipman and Todd Wiener, UCLA Film and Television Archive; Grover Crisp and Helena Brissenden, Sony Pictures Releasing; and Barry Allen, Paramount Pictures.

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