Gotta sing, gotta dance!

(Canscene)– Jewish composers and songwriters have always played a prominent part in Tin Pan Alley and Broadway. Ellie Skrow, longtime TJFF programmer provided a delightful and audience friendly “sidebar” series at this year’s festival.

It is a fact that most of the prominent purveyors of popular music in the 30s and 40s were Jewish with the exception of Cole Porter and a few other “greats” such as Harry Warren and Johnny Mercer. They helped cheer up Americans and Canadians during the Great Depression and World War II.

At last month’s festival, ten Jewish songwriters were the subjects of documentaries with separate screenings of the films for which they provided either the music or lyrics or both. Rarities, like Hallelujah I’m a Bum starring Al Jolson with music by no less than Rogers and Hart were given a screening as was the documentary The Sweetest Sounds examining the lives and work of Richard Rogers, Lorenz Hart and Oscar Hammerstein, who partnered with Rogers after Hart’s death.

Remember My Forgotten Man

One of the most powerful moments was provided at the conclusion of the film Gold Diggers of 1933: the Remember My Forgotten Man number. Al Dubin’s lyrics, sung by Joan Blondell and Etta Moten to the grim, atypical choreography of Busby Berkeley are searing and as the final notes are sung the film closes without any return to the romantic ending that was signalled before.

The Forgotten Man number is featured in its entirety on the You tube.

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