HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Old Guard, The
Gumnaam
Disappearance at Clifton Hill
Sullivans, The
Piranhas
Love in the Afternoon
Black Water: Abyss
Wild Blue Yonder, The
All Hail the Popcorn King
Muriel, or the Time of Return
Selma
Great Locomotive Chase, The
American Anthem
Lion and the Horse, The
Druids
War of the Wizards
Onward
Doctor Faustus
Spite Marriage
Mask, The
Letter to Jane
Quick Millions
Dream Demon
Max Havelaar
Radioactive
Glastonbury Fayre
All Dogs Go to Heaven
Shoot Out
Da 5 Bloods
Sonatine
Kung Fu Monster
Secret Agent Super Dragon
Saint Frances
Boiling Point
Golden Stallion, The
Dragon Force
Anthropocene: The Human Epoch
Luck of Ginger Coffey, The
Junkers Come Here
Ladius
   
 
Newest Articles
Divine Madness: Female Trouble on Blu-ray
Country Matters: Further Out of Town on Blu-ray
Bat-Damn: Was Joel Schumacher's Batman Really That Bad?
The Beat Goes On: Takeshi Kitano Collection on Blu-ray
Dream Treats: Scorsese Shorts on Blu-ray
It's Only Money: Laughter in Paradise on Blu-ray
A Regular Terpsichore: Dance, Girl, Dance on Blu-ray
Teenage Trauma: Baby Love on Blu-ray
The Happening: Pet Shop Boys It Couldn't Happen Here on Blu-ray
Who Watched The Watchmen?
The Golden Age of Colonic Irrigation: Monty Python Series 4 on Blu-ray
Lady of Pleasure: Lola Montes on Blu-ray
Take You to the Gay Bar: Funeral Parade of Roses on Blu-ray
Hit for Ms: Mark Cousins' Women Make Film on Blu-ray
Look Sinister: The 1000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse on Blu-ray
Star Wars Triple Threat: The Tricky Third Prequel and Sequel
I Can See for Miles: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes on Blu-ray
Too Much Pressure: The Family Way on Blu-ray
The Alan Key: Alan Klein and What a Crazy World on Blu-ray
A Japanese Ghost Story: Kwaidan on Blu-ray
The Zu Gang: Zu Warriors from the Magic Mountain on Blu-ray
Reality TV: The Year of the Sex Olympics on DVD
The Young and the Damned: They Live By Night on Blu-ray
Mind How You Go: The Best of COI on Blu-ray
Der Kommissar's in Town: Babylon Berlin Series 3 on DVD
   
 
  Syncopation Now You Has Jazz
Year: 1942
Director: William Dieterle
Stars: Adolphe Menjou, Jackie Cooper, Bonita Granville, George Bancroft, Robert Benchley, Walter Catlett, Ted North, Todd Duncan, Connee Boswell, Frank Jenks, Jessica Grayson, Mona Barrie, Lindy Wade, Peggy McIntyre, Charlie Barnet, Benny Goodman, Gene Krupa
Genre: Drama, Romance, MusicBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Centuries ago, on the continent of Africa, the white man came and bought black people into slavery from their countrymen, a horrifying turn of events which saw countless slaves brought to the United States. However, once the slaves were emancipated many years later, the plight of the African American has begun to improve, yes, plenty take menial jobs, but now there's nothing out of the ordinary in a black man becoming a banker. And the music they have evolved with this rise has taken the world by storm: jazz, which has brought the young folks of all races together across America to dance, folks like Johnny Schumacher (Jackie Cooper) and Kit Latimer (Bonita Granville).

Who are both conspicuously white, but don't go writing off Syncopation straight away, for it was a lot more enlightened about race than many of its contemporaries, if not quite up to twenty-first century standards. Johnny and Kit have a black friend they grew up with, Rex (Todd Duncan), and he will appear every so often in the plot as he is an accomplished musician of jazz, so while the main featured couple were the focus of the narrative, there was a stronger acknowledgement of the benefits of black culture than was usual for the day. Now, while things were not perfect in the nineteen-forties racially, there were instances of racial themes and performers appearing.

If Rex had been the protagonist, then this would have been marketed to a very different audience, one which was exclusively black - something like the Louis Jordan musicals that played like gangbusters to African American audiences this decade. Syncopation does however end with a celebration of jazz performed by a completely white lineup, including huge names like Benny Goodman and Gene Krupa, which could be taken two ways, either whitey ripping off the black culture yet again, or proof that quality knows no racial boundaries and good music is good music no matter what colour the musicians and singers are who put it across. That's a personal reaction.

There was a storyline here, and it followed Johnny and Kit through the years as they tried to pursue jazz as a way of life, only obstacles got in their way, the major one being The First World War which threatens to tear them apart. Aside from that, the busybodies and prejudiced were put in their place when Kit is put on trial by a local conservative activist for "starting a riot", which actually means she played boogie-woogie piano while a bunch of people danced; being a massive racist, this activist cannot see anything but the worst aspects of whites playing jazz, but a rendition in the courtroom gets everyone else jiving and the Kit is exonerated. It's a nice scene, but plainly a fantasy, though in other places there were more serious-minded considerations and a barbed portrayal of a Paul Whiteman character.

Whiteman was known as The King of Jazz, or at least he was promoted in that manner, and he gets a stand-in here who is so straitjacketed in his lack of inspiration or improvisation in his successful stage shows that it drives recruit Johnny around the bend. He is better off listening to Rex, his old pal who acts as an oft-absent mentor, but a mentor nonetheless: the film makes it clear that it is the black musicians who taught the white ones how to play right in the relationship between the master (Rex) and his pupil (Johnny). While Syncopation obviously meant well, it's difficult not to compare it to later jazz biopics and see where it was somewhat constricted by the expectations of the era, and it does try to pack so much in to less than ninety minutes that director William Dieterle looks keener to cram as many talking points and bursts of music as he can rather than crafting something slick and measured. If this was all over the place in its need to broaden its appeal, you could forgive it plenty, as that music was very fine.

[Syncopation is released by Eureka on Blu-ray with no extras, but it is a very nice print.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 381 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Paul Smith
Andrew Pragasam
  Mick Stewart
Enoch Sneed
  Dsfgsdfg Dsgdsgsdg
  Hannah Prosser
   

 

Last Updated: