Lesser Known Swing Scenes

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#1
I've been hunting down Hollywood actors Dean Collins taught. By matching the name and the first time they did swing on film, I have a pretty good guess of when he taught them.

First up is Guy Madison who played Wild Bill Hickock in one of the 50s TV Westerns.
http://www.westernclippings.com/remember/wildbillhickok_doyouremember.shtml

Dean said that Guy was his worst student. Hey, he's in time with the music!


Bonus for me is that a still from this scene (unidentified source) was used in the book How to Dance the Jitterbug - 1983
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#3
Dean said that his best student was Joan Crawford.


YouTube has clips of Crawford dancing early in her career. Looks like she had a leg up on the dance thing.
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#4
“Now, these are the rules. No one’s to dance with his own girl or wife, on account of he could practice at home, and that ain’t fair. So you gotta grab yourself another partner.”
Sounds like "jack and jill."
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#7
This one is more than a scene. It's a 20 minute long film. Surely I'm not the first one to stumble across this. But then, I was reading one of Terry Monaghan's journal articles, and that's where I saw it.


Al Minns and Leon James are the only credited dancers, but I wonder who the other people are. I can't help but note that Minns and James only dance with each other rather than what we would consider "social dancing."
I've read a fair amount about Pops Foster, who is playing the bass and by some accounts found other musicians in New York playing bass like he did when he moved to the city when swing was just getting started in a big way there.

Also note that the several years later rock n roll movie dancing looks like, and was filmed like, what we see here.
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#9
Was investigating Artie Shaw's "Begin the Beguine" which is the song Joe Lanza remembers first seeing his friends dance Lindy Hop to. He also wrote, "they were taking lessons at the Savoy," but he was afraid to go to Harlem and didn't learn swing for another 10 years.
Ah... and I came across this, which I haven't seen before. Anyone have any info on this?

 

Siggav

Active Member
#11
Also so you know Begin the Beguine is a complete workhorse of a lindy hopping song now, as in it's a solid standard that gets played a lot and some people are tired of it because it's been played so much
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#12
Jammin' the Blues

Very classy production from 1944.
Just saw the entire short, and here's the section with two dancers.


Definitely worth looking for the other YouTube clips from this (but no more dancing).
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#16
I hadn't seen this one before.
It's the great Cab Calloway, Whitey's Lindy Hoppers (uncredited), and Calloway does some Lindy Hop.

scene here

full movie here - Calloway scene ~ 26:30
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#18
Ohhh, you're killin' me.

They are showing a bunch of Melvyn Douglas movies on GetTV this month. I was not even aware of him, least of all as a leading man.
I love a lot of these old movies.

And, in case you didn't go to YouTube to watch the clip...

Dean Collins has been quoted as saying that Joan Crawford was one of the Hollywood stars he taught to do Jitterbug/Lindy Hop/New Yorker. Crawford had danced in films earlier in her career, and was quite the hoofer; but she would have had to update her skills for this "swing era" film. LIFE reported that she lost 5 pounds and sprained her back in preparing for, and performing, in this scene.
LIFE also reported that she donated her salary, $112,500, to four different charities.
Her partner is Allen Jenkins, "an ex-Broadway hoofer."
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#19
Roy Lester had a fairly high profile around 1940 +- a year or two. He seems to be relatively unknown based on a lack of web based hits, but his name was in contemporary newspapers more often than Dean Collins was (at least for those years). One article referred to Lester as a "professional jitterbugger." He was one of four jitterbugs in the short dance on the sidewalk in "Pot o Gold," and was also in "Broadway Serenade" and "Among the Living."


Ann Southern had bruises "contracted in the line of duty" during three weeks of rehearsals, and announced that "jitterbugging is hard work."
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#20
I noticed a picture of Dean Collins teaching Guy Madison and Jean Porter here, http://www.swingdancecouncil.com/halloffame2.html , and watched the first clip in this thread again to see what Dean was teaching in 1946. Interesting that, aside from the lack of polish, it looks a lot like what he danced with Jewel. I guess that shouldn't be any surprise.

They hit the break, and the way Jean Porter ended is a lot like what I've been ending some of my WCS with recently.
 

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