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Steven Spielberg's Nod to Big Bands in 1941

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Happy Birthday to Steven Spielberg
No director or producer has ever put together a more popular body of work. That's why the movies we're now seeing are made in his image.

Steven Spielberg born December 18, 1946, first films were made at a time when directors were the most important people in Hollywood, and his more recent ones at a time when marketing controls the industry. That he has remained the most powerful filmmaker in the world during both periods says something for his talent and his flexibility. No one else has put together a more popular body of work, yet within the entertainer there is also an artist capable of The Color Purple and Schindler's List. When entertainer and artist came fully together, the result was E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial, a remarkable fusion of mass appeal and stylistic mastery.

Spielberg's most important contribution to modern movies is his insight that there was an enormous audience to be created if old-style B-movie stories were made with A-level craftsmanship and enhanced with the latest developments in special effects. Consider such titles as Raiders of the Lost Ark and the other Indiana Jones movies, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T. and Jurassic Park. Look also at the films he produced but didn't direct, like the Back to the Future series, Gremlins, Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Twister. The story lines were the stuff of Saturday serials, but the filmmaking was cutting edge and delivered what films have always promised: they showed us something amazing that we hadn't seen before.

Tribute to Big Band USO

Spielberg's 1941 is a big-budget zany comedy detailing the hilarious panic that gripped Los Angeles after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Army General Joseph Stilwell (Robert Stack) is in charge of protecting the Californian coastline in the weeks following Pearl Harbor. Dan Aykroyd and John Candy are members of a tank crew responsible for setting up a cannon in Ned Beatty's backyard. As explosions burst forth and air-raid sirens scream, John Belushi, Tim Matheson, and Treat Williams are part of the army corp reacting to the news of war with a somewhat energetic craziness. They dance at the USO, compete with each other to get the prettiest girls, and watch as Hollywood Boulevard becomes a pile of ruins.

Use the video below to enjoy the wild boys night out at the Hollywood Canteen, from 1941.


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