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Musical shorts, produced to merely fill out the film program, have in many cases acquired more value than the features they once supported. Filmed at the Paramount Studios in Astoria, Queens, these films offer unparalleled opportunities to see and hear great artists in action -- and sometimes present surprisingly gutsy subject matter via truly innovative film technique. In A Rhapsody In Black And Blue, Louis Armstrong dons outlandish leopard-skin attire to stand knee-deep in soap bubbles, where he trumpets and sings "I'll Be Glad When You're Dead You Rascal You." In Hi-De-Ho, Cab Calloway demonstrates just what scat is all about, with the assistance of a bevy of Cotton Club fan dancers. The legendary "Empress Of The Blues," Bessie Smith, stars in her only film, the once-notorious musical drama St. Louis Blues. Teenaged Billie Holiday performs in Symphony In Black, perhaps the greatest of Duke Ellington's shorts. Another Ellington piece, A Bundle Of Blues, spotlights his favorite band singer, Ivie Anderson (performing "Stormy Weather"), while Black And Tan Fantasy features the Ellington orchestra imparting a bluesy mood to a surprisingly downbeat tale featuring actress-dancer Fredi Washington (Imitation Of Life). Meanwhile, George Dewey Washington's powerful baritone transcends some stereotypical situations in Ol' King Cotton. Also appearing on this DVD -- definitely in a lighter vein -- are bandleader Vince Lopez (who conducts a bouncy "St. Louis Blues" in Those Blues), composer Hoagy Carmichael (performing "Stardust" with the Jack Teagarden Orchestra) and Fats Waller, who growls a definitive Ain't Misbehavin'. (by Richard Barrios, author of A Song In The Dark: The Birth Of The Musical Film) This collection includes: A Rhapsody In Black And Blue (1932, with Louis Armstrong) A Bundle Of Blues (1933, with Duke Ellington, Ivie Anderson) Cab Calloway's Hi-De-Ho (1933, with Cab Calloway) Ain't Misbehavin'* (1941, with Fats Waller) Symphony In Black (1935, with Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday) Jitterbug Party (1934, with Cab Calloway) St. Louis Blues* (1929, with Bessie Smith) NOW ON NATIONAL FILM REGISTRY Hoagy Carmichael (1939, with Jack Teagarden) Ol' King Cotton (1930, with George Dewey Washington) Black And Tan Fantasy* (with Duke Ellington, Fredi Washington, Arthur Whetsol) Those Blues (1932, w/ Vincent Lopez

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Special Features Special bonus short, Jazz A La Cuba (1933, with Don Aspiazu and His Famous Orchestra)

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