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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Before Music Videos, There Were Scopitones -- See an Original Scopitone Machine

Posted By on Tue, Jun 28, 2011 at 11:47 AM

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. Above is Della Reese in a typically literal and beautiful-if-corny "Scopitone."

Don't touch it, you jerk! It's old and rare and awesome.
  • Don't touch it, you jerk! It's old and rare and awesome.
"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," the 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 tucked into interesting corners of the city. Late-breaking news: We've just heard that Oddball's own until-now-nonfunctional Scopitone machine has been repaired and will be played Thursday!
Don't touch it, you jerk! It's old and rare and awesome.
  • Don't touch it, you jerk! It's old and rare and awesome.
Also on the big screen 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.

Thursday, June 30, 8 p.m.
Oddball Film and Video
Price: $10-$15

For more events in San Francisco this week and beyond, check out our calendar section.

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Hiya Swanhuyser


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