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ANSWERED on Mon 3 Feb 2014 - 8:44 am UTC by Leli Crawford

Question: For Leli Crawford; Josephine Baker

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probo 

Customer

 31 Jan 2014 12:30 UTCFri 31 Jan 2014 - 12:30 pm UTC 

Hi Again Leli

Some time ago I found a YouTube clip of Josephine Baker:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=064oYkj1LBw

As you will see, this is dated 1925 and she is dancing The Charleston to music provided by Isham Jones and his Orchestra.

The curious thing is that Josephine was based in France whilst Isham was in Chicago.

No problem given that records have always travelled widely.

However, what do you suppose was the history of this piece?

And, knowing of your ability to amaze me with your research ...

Please amaze me yet again and preferably before Myoarin gets a chance to stick his oar in. (You know what he's like.)

All the best

Probo

 

myoarin 

User

 31 Jan 2014 15:47 UTCFri 31 Jan 2014 - 3:47 pm UTC 

I wouldn't want to disappoint you, Probo. 

The music sure sounds like Isham & co, having listened to a couple of recordings without JB dancing.  It seems very unlikely that another orchestra was playing or that Isham's music could have be dubbed to a silent film of her dancing.

A 1925 filmstrip with sound is pretty early, but was possible.  I suppose distributed sound films had to wait for the cinemas to be outfitted  to show them.

Go for it, Leli, 

Myo

 

probo 

Customer

 2 Feb 2014 11:35 UTCSun 2 Feb 2014 - 11:35 am UTC 

Here's a question that I asked over 10 years ago:

http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=223173

Which demonstrates that the French were up to speed in Talkies - long before 1925 when Josephine strutted her stuff per the YouTube Clip.

And, on that occasion, there was not even one peep out of Myoarin.

Amazing!

However, he's more than made up for it since.

Probo

 

Leli Crawford 

Researcher

 2 Feb 2014 12:10 UTCSun 2 Feb 2014 - 12:10 pm UTC 

Great to hear fron you, Probo, and apologies for going AWOL for a couple of days. Another of your interesting questions! I'll take a look later today and see if I can get anywhere.

Leli

 

probo 

Customer

 2 Feb 2014 12:32 UTCSun 2 Feb 2014 - 12:32 pm UTC 

Very many thanks, Leli

And, as someone used to say:

Looking forward!

Probo

 

myoarin 

User

 2 Feb 2014 13:22 UTCSun 2 Feb 2014 - 1:22 pm UTC 

Ah, the good old days.  I am pretty sure that I hadn't discovered GA in 2003, the only explanation for my not having muddied the waters.

I have an idea of how to here, but Leli has first shot. 

Myo

 

Leli Crawford 

Researcher

 2 Feb 2014 18:47 UTCSun 2 Feb 2014 - 6:47 pm UTC 

Well, I've had an interesting time digging. Just how, when and where music and film met is still a mystery. And Myo has serious doubts about dubbing...

It's most likely this performance is from a 1926 Folies Bergère revue called "La Folie du Jour", which opened in April. A silent film version was released in early 1927.

Baker's famous "banana skirt" dance is from this show too. The Charleston was nearer the end and was also a sensational show-stopper at the time.

I've seen a few descriptions which help explain what's happening at the beginning of the clip.

"...From the flies overhead, an egg-shaped mass of flowers descended, opening its petals as it approached the stage and revealing therein Josephine, in a silk fringe skirt, prostrate on a mirror. Bursting forth from the egg-flower into a version of the Charleston unknown to the stage, a flurry of gleaming flesh and fringe, multiplied by the mirror's reflections..."

(Josephine Baker and Paul Colin: African American Dance Seen through Parisian Eyes
Karen C. C. Dalton and Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
Critical Inquiry
Vol. 24, No. 4 (Summer, 1998), pp. 903-934
The University of Chicago Press
http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/1344112?)

Here's a picture showing the mirror more clearly, with the same backdrop, anklets etc.:
http://terresdefemmes.blogs.com/.a/6a00d8345167db69e2016304ad2b69970d-800wi
From this blog confirming it's from "Folie du Jour":
http://terresdefemmes.blogs.com/mon_weblog/2006/04/24_avril_1926tr.html

"...La Folie du Jour was filmed, almost in its entirety, albeit silently. The director of the film was Mario Nalpas and the fragments of it that survive show Josephine performing her Fatou [banana skirt] routine and, against the same scenery (no doubt for reasons of economy), her Charleston from 'La Boule Des Fleurs'. [ball of flowers]
.........
In January 1927 the film of La Folie Du Jour was released, which meant that Paul Derval would now have to mount a new show at the Folies itself."

(The Josephine Baker story
Ean Wood
Sanctuary, 2000)

So what about the music? I don't know, but I was interested to read that around 1926 "her lively Charleston was filmed and shown in theaters all over the United States".

(Josephine Baker: Entertainer
Alan Schroeder, Heather Lehr Wagner
Infobase Publishing, 1999)

She added a bikini top to skimpy costumes when filming, apparently, though I'm afraid I've mislaid the reference.

Hope this is of interest - Leli

 

probo 

Customer

 2 Feb 2014 19:17 UTCSun 2 Feb 2014 - 7:17 pm UTC 

Truly WONDERFUL!

Many thanks, Leli.

As always, you have managed to amaze me yet again.

Please post an Answer.

All the best

Probo

 

myoarin 

User

 2 Feb 2014 22:34 UTCSun 2 Feb 2014 - 10:34 pm UTC 

I have changed my mind about dubbing, now think the film was matched to the music.

As the comments to Probo's GA question show, there were a lot of efforts to link sound to film, the earliest ones eschewing talk, no doubt because of the difficulty in sychronizing two separate systems.  This doesn't seem to be a problem with JB dancing the Charleston, but after the opening scenes, when the music hasn't yet started the dance rhythm, it appears that the film repeats the dance sequences, not to mention those of her ogling.

If you are sure that Isham didn't go to Paris to accompany her, my take is that a silent film was later linked to a recording of the music, the film sequences cut and repeated to fit, maybe even accelerated to match the tempo of the music.

This other video from 1927 verifies that music was dubbed to films, quite well, actually, maybe with film cutting: 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NBGXsQfGY4M 

Back then, it would have been technically nigh impossible to film and record the music in that quality with her dancing on that stage.
If the short dance film was shown commercially in the States, maybe to advertise sound-films if a cinema had the equipment.  Elsewhere, it would have been a hit without sound. 
 
There is a clip of her dancing topless offstage, but otherwise in different "full costume".  Pity there weren't cellphones with cameras back then.  

But I am just supporting Leli's good work. 

Cheers, Myo

 

Leli Crawford 

Answer

 3 Feb 2014 08:44 UTCMon 3 Feb 2014 - 8:44 am UTC 

Glad you found my research interesting, Probo. And thanks to Myo for throwing light on the technical side. The idea of repeated film clips assembled to suit the music seems very plausible.

Apparently the band (E.E. Thompson) hired for "Folie du Jour" on stage just mimed, while the pit orchestra (Maurice Hermite) played. The Charleston music was well known and recorded by several different bands (usually just called "Charleston") so maybe it wasn't too difficult to pick out a version where you could match the tempo to the dancing? But I can't guarantee that Isham Jones didn't go to Paris for the filming. I just didn't find any indication he did.

More info, including the time JB nearly fell 40 feet onto the stage, here:
http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=UTbpD8EdCFQC&lpg=PP1&dq=la%20%22folie%20du%20jour%22%201926%20OR%201927&pg=PA136#v=onepage&q=%22easter%20egg%22&f=false

And a French description of the show with the Maurice Hermite info and the only mention I've seen of the "incredible" rolling eyes:
http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=6O5h8_q0M0EC&lpg=PA69&dq=josephine%20baker%20boule%20miroir&pg=PA69#v=snippet&q=%22boule%20de%20fleurs%22&f=false

Thanks for sending a fun question - Leli

 

probo 

Customer

 3 Feb 2014 09:53 UTCMon 3 Feb 2014 - 9:53 am UTC 

Very many thanks, Leli, I am highly delighted!

Probo

 

Leli Crawford 

Researcher

 3 Feb 2014 11:05 UTCMon 3 Feb 2014 - 11:05 am UTC 

Thank you very much! It's good to work on one of your questions and hear you're pleased with the results. Thanks for the tip too.

Leli

 

probo 

Customer

 3 Feb 2014 19:06 UTCMon 3 Feb 2014 - 7:06 pm UTC 

Many thanks, Myo

Of course, back in the Twenties, Transatlantic Crossings were very much rarer than today.

However, I now see that Isham Jones toured England with his Orchestra in 1925 and it would then have only been a short hop to France.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isham_Jones

Interestingly, the front page of the YouTube clip of Josephine was in English.

Certainly, the same sequence featuring Josephine was re-used continually.

Cheers

Probo

 

myoarin 

User

 3 Feb 2014 21:34 UTCMon 3 Feb 2014 - 9:34 pm UTC 

If they were in London, and CB was teaching Paris the Charleston, seems extremely likely that the band also treated Paris to the original music. 

It could have played instead of paid for its Atlantic crossings.

Fun to have a good old type question to enliven things.

Cheers, Myo

 

probo 

Customer

 4 Feb 2014 08:40 UTCTue 4 Feb 2014 - 8:40 am UTC 

Many thanks, again, Myoarin

Now, you will never guess what I have found!

Isham Jones and his wife arrived in Southampton on October 9, 1925 but, as far as I can see, there were no other Musicians on board.

Mr & Mrs Jones arrived on the SS Leviathan which came from New York via Cherbourg!

So, maybe, the rest of his Orchestra stayed in France or returned directly to the US?

They gave their London address as the Kit Kat Club.

You may remember that Oliver Henkel wrote about 'Die Fahrt des LEVIATHAN' so, please, can you get a copy quick and see if either Isham or Josephine or the Kit Kat Club get a mention?

http://uclue.com/?xq=5416

Looking forward!

All the best

Probo

 

myoarin 

User

 4 Feb 2014 12:37 UTCTue 4 Feb 2014 - 12:37 pm UTC 

Didn't everybody know that passenger ships from Southampton always stopped at Cherbourg, and there first on passages from USA? 

I haven't read Henkel's book, which "improved" on history, as I understand, but the Leviathan's vita was already pretty confused: 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_Leviathan

I have to doubt that they gave their london address as the Kit Kat Club: 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kit-Cat_Club

Cheers, Myo

 

probo 

Customer

 5 Feb 2014 07:36 UTCWed 5 Feb 2014 - 7:36 am UTC 

Many thanks, Myo, for your latest Comment.

However, I am not sorry to say that - unfortunately - you are COMPLETELY WRONG!

An Article in the (London) Times dated 15 October 1925 is headed 'American Bands in London'.

It goes on to state that there was a US Embassy Protest Against Exclusions.

Reportedly, there had been considerable controversy regarding the introduction of foreign bands. Permits have recently been issued to Vincent Lopez, Ted Lewis, Brooke Johns and ISHAM JONES which have been playing at the Kit-Cat Club alternatively with a British band.

The World and His Wife now await your apology.

Many thanks in anticipation.

Cheers

Probo

 

myoarin 

User

 5 Feb 2014 16:44 UTCWed 5 Feb 2014 - 4:44 pm UTC 

Okay, okay!   My apologies to you, the World and his Wife!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Odeon_Haymarket

Myo

 

probo 

Customer

 6 Feb 2014 09:22 UTCThu 6 Feb 2014 - 9:22 am UTC 

Very many thanks, Myo

Once again you have proved yourself to be a great gentleman.

(Not that any further proof was required).

Prost!

Probo

 

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