THE PLOT THUS FAR
Covering a quarter-century of American ‘syncopated” music (Ragtime, Jazz, Swing, Blues, Boogie Woogie)from prior to WWI through prohibition, the stock-market crash, the depression and the outbreak of WWII. A romance between singer Kit Latimer, from New Orleans, and Johnny Schumacher, in which they share and argue over musical ideas ensues. Prior to the making of the film RKO held a contest for the readers of ‘The Saturday Evening Post” to vote on the musicians to make up the All-American Dance Band featured in the film; the magazine’s readers chose, in the above-the-title listing: Charlie Barnet, Benny Goodman, Harry James, Jack Jenney. Gene Krupa, Alvino Rey, Joe Venuti, and singer Connee Boswell.
WHAT WE THOUGHT
“Syncopation” was a film that was created as a sort of American Music All-Star Jam by the readers of the Saturday Evening Post. Jackie Cooper (the future Perry White) leads the acting efforts, while the biggest artists of the day get together to jam. The credits and racial subtext are quite a one-two punch for viewers. I guess it made sense back in the days, as White America was starting to realize that it was cool to dig African American music. That being said, being 73 years removed from the original theatrical release has transformed this film into something else.
I love it when cinema celebrates music, so I was surprised that I missed out on this one. I was never a huge Jazz fan, but I appreciate the weird aesthetic that comes with it in this era. Have you ever noticed how much of a goon Gene Krupa looks like when he performs? I bring that up, since my mind can’t break away from the racial posturing used to keep the film’s B plot alive. Hell, I can’t stop thinking about this film and the musical all-star short films included on the set. I love it when these treasure troves are discovered by stunning companies such as Cohen.
The Blu-Ray comes with short films and a restoration trailer as the special features. The A/V Quality is astounding with a clean 1080p transfer and PCM 2.0 audio track. I have to say that the restoration work on this release would put Criterion to shame. It’s only February, but I know that we’re looking at one of the best 2015 releases already. Don’t even hesitate, people. “Syncopation” is a must-buy.
RELEASE DATE: 02/10/2015