Soundies and the Changing Image of Black Americans on Screen: One Dime at a Time

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Product Details

Indiana University Press
5.9 X 8.9 X 0.9 inches | 1.3 pounds

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About the Author

Susan Delson is author of Dudley Murphy, Hollywood Wild Card and editor of Ai Weiwei: Circle of Animals. Her writings on art and culture appear in the Wall Street Journal and other publications. She is an arts journalist and film historian based in New York City.


"Benefiting from her new research and fresh thinking, Delson's detailed study of the Soundies phenomenon is a timely addition to the history of how Black performers in America have used music and performance to excel and advance despite a culture of racism that has long bracketed their achievements."--Ron Magliozzi, Curator, Department of Film, The Museum of Modern Art

"Seldom do the contents of a book about African American history surprise me. Soundies and the Changing Image of Black Americans on Screen, however, was a revelation. Anyone interested in 20th century America and African American history will be fascinated by this book. It's a terrific read."--Shane White, author of Prince of Darkness: The Untold Story of Jeremiah G. Hamilton, Wall Street's First Black Millionaire

"Essential. In this comprehensive work, Delson locates soundies within cinema history. The book provides a fascinating exploration of performers, musicians, and filmmakers who contributed to these productions. Most revealing is Delson's assessment that soundies created images "that boldly contradicted Hollywood's usual depictions of Black people, in images of success, competence, and style" (p. 5)--a direct contrast to studio productions. According to Delson, soundies were historically significant because they impacted the social and cultural fabric of a racially divided America; they played a role in advancing the country's racial politics even when the country seemed reluctant to do so. This definitive study includes rarely seen photos and lists of performers, filmmakers, and titles. A fascinating resource for those interested in film, jazz, performance, WW II, race, Black film history, and socio-cultural history broadly."--C. B. Regester, Univ. of North Carolina--Chapel Hill, Choice

"Delson's catalog of Soundies is delightfully exhaustive and accompanied by detailed descriptions."--Margaret Kuo - California State University, Long Beach, California History