Long Before Aerosmith's “Crazy”

That which we now call a “music video” is more than it seems to be — the idea is immutable, obvious, and at least as old as visual recording devices. “Soundies” are the earliest known incarnation of the short-music-film form: In the black-and-white era, they were shown on specially designed jukebox-type machines in disreputable establishments. At “Scopitones-a-Go-Go,” this film archive's wizard-curators introduce the color version of soundies, Scopitones. From the early 1960s come ridiculous scenarios, many of which include some form of wiggling bikini, set to the music of such pop campers as Procol Harum, Jane Morgan, and the king of French rock, Johnny Hallyday. These were also shown on their own machines, some of which can still be found, unrepairable, tucked into interesting corners of the city. Also on the big screen tonight are several soundies, including ones by Nat King Cole and Duke Ellington, which might sound classy, except some of the soundies are of the “novelty” variety.
Thu., June 30, 8 p.m., 2011

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