A SONG IN THE DARK, Third Edition


The musical films of the early sound era, as most Cinefesters know well, are a wild and wondrously wooly bunch. Although my book A SONG IN THE DARK is now but in its second edition, I'm happy this year to present an all-new third edition of musical clips from the dawn of sound. Here are the artists and the hacks, the creators and the klutzes, the wonderful moments and don't-let-this-happen-to-you mistakes. It wouldn't be sporting to give away too many of the surprises, but let it be noted that there's a good deal of quite rare footage here, including—for the third year in a row!—yet another number from the 1929 Rio Rita that is no longer in current prints. Naturally, there's some more beautiful two-color Technicolor, plus contributions by such favorites as Dorothy Lee, Bing Crosby, Thelma Todd, and the wonderful character actor Clarence Muse. ( Frank Fay also appears.) There's even a rare film appearance by Doris Eaton, the late and near-legendary “last Ziegfeld girl,” who kept performing well past the age of 100. Maybe not all of the clips are quite as enduring as Ms. Eaton, but even some of the less sublime moments give loving testament to the enterprise and ebullience of this unique time in American history. And just remember: never swat a fly!

--Richard Barrios