Crying fo the Carolines
May 12, 2012 1:55 PM   Subscribe

Before Leon Schlessinger produced the classic animation series Merrie Melodies, there was another series of shorts created to feature contemporary pop hits. Combining live-action musical performances with an art deco-influenced set design, only 6 episodes of Spooney Melodies were ever produced. Today, only one short remains – Crying for the Carolines, considered by many to be the first ever music video.

The featured organist in the clip is Milton Charles, a well-known theater organist throughout the silent movie era. Obituary.

Deep in my Heart (click on the Paramount label to listen)
There's a Rainbow on my Shoulder (vocals by Ned Miller)
Sonny Boy (vocals by Ned Miller)
Thru the Shady Lane
The Straight Arrow adventure serial
posted by Think_Long (8 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
This Milton Charles was one Spooney bard.
posted by Nomyte at 2:05 PM on May 12, 2012 [3 favorites]

I'd not heard of this particular series. Many thanks for this post!
posted by Thorzdad at 2:19 PM on May 12, 2012

For some reason this reminds me of eraserhead.
posted by pmcp at 2:33 PM on May 12, 2012

My God, would I love to see the ones for "Just a Gigolo" (which is the song you're thinking of) and "Say a Little Prayer for Me" (which isn't).
posted by dhartung at 2:37 PM on May 12, 2012

That's really interesting - I'd never heard of this series, and I've read about the Warner history in animation.
posted by randomkeystrike at 2:41 PM on May 12, 2012

Of course, in my mind this is the definitive Sonny Boy
posted by randomkeystrike at 2:42 PM on May 12, 2012

Never heard of this, either. I wouldn't have thought old Leon had it in him. It says, "A Neil McGuire Creation," so I'm guessing Neil directed it.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 4:32 PM on May 12, 2012

This is so neat! I didn't know there was even one of these surviving. Thanks for the link.

Since I am Nitpicking Queen of Dorksylvania, though, I'll suggest that these are considered to be the first precursors to music videos by those who don't consider Ruth Etting's 1929 musical shorts to be the first (fully synchronized sound movie) precursors to music videos, or those who don't consider the 1928 Vitaphone Musical Shorts that were shot in fully synchronized sound to be the first, etc., etc. 1930 is actually fairly late to the party; by that point, there was a standard slot for musical shorts in most movie theaters' programs (much to the chagrin of the live performers who had formerly been engaged to provide musical entertainment between the films).

Of course, "Hey, let's have moving pictures that go with music" goes back before talkies; there were lots of Phonofilm shorts (most famously the Fleischer brothers' "Song Car-Tunes"), and Al Jolson's 1926 "A Plantation Act" which was sound-to-disc, and other earlier sound-to-disc and even sound-to-cylinder films from the late 19th century.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:17 PM on May 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

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