“When he smiles at the camera, it’s almost impossible not to smile back”
July 9, 2019 1:04 AM   Subscribe

Silent film clip appears to show Louis Armstrong as a teenager according to jazz historian James Karst, writing in 64 Parishes. The magazine has uploaded the eight-second clip to YouTube. Gwen Thompkins writes about the footage for The New Yorker in the short essay An Eight-Second Film of 1915 New Orleans and the Mystery of Louis Armstrong’s Happiness.
posted by Kattullus (19 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
 
My favorites were “A Kiss to Build a Dream On,” “Hey, Look Me Over,” and the title track, along with “Jeepers Creepers.”

I like "The Creator Has A Master Plan"
posted by thelonius at 1:55 AM on July 9 [5 favorites]


I was just reading "Mrs Bathurst" over again last night and thinking about that brief glimpse of someone in a crowd.

Is there a copy of this newsboy film (or some stills) on the net with better resolution?
posted by pracowity at 3:53 AM on July 9


Is there a screengrab of a frame from that clip that shows what's supposed to be Louis Armstrong?
posted by emelenjr at 5:15 AM on July 9


Louis is supposedly the young man with the newspaper who enters the scene at 3 seconds.
posted by mygoditsbob at 5:25 AM on July 9 [1 favorite]


the Mystery of Louis Armstrong’s Happiness

I always thought it was weed.
posted by HumanComplex at 5:39 AM on July 9 [6 favorites]


I like "The Creator Has A Master Plan"

What in the name of the lord?! How did I not know this existed? I don't know whether to murder or thank you for bringing this to my attention. I'm sorry, but this is an abomination.

Here is The Creator Has A Master Plan as it's meant to be heard. Or, if you're a purist.
posted by dobbs at 5:51 AM on July 9 [7 favorites]


It's easier to see if you click on the gearwheel and set the playback speed to 0.5.
posted by Bee'sWing at 6:05 AM on July 9 [2 favorites]


I think Getty has the film playing at too fast a frame rate.
posted by Ideefixe at 6:09 AM on July 9


I'm sorry, but this is an abomination.

I don't know what to tell you, dobbs. It is what it is? It is the song of my people?
posted by thelonius at 6:14 AM on July 9 [2 favorites]


What in the name of the lord?

Put me in dobbs’s purist camp, but if anyone ever earned the right to do whatever song he wanted, it was Louis, who contained multitudes.
posted by LeLiLo at 6:45 AM on July 9 [5 favorites]


Leon Thomas (wiki): Thomas's most distinctive device was that he often broke out into yodeling in the middle of a vocal. [...] He said in an interview that he developed this style after he fell and broke his teeth before an important show.
posted by pracowity at 6:51 AM on July 9


The circumstantial evidence of the photo being him is certainly suggestive, but to rely on "charisma" or "aura"? We'll need better than that, thanks.
posted by Capt. Renault at 6:59 AM on July 9 [2 favorites]


Big derail by thelonious, but, shit, big news to me: Armstrong recording one of my favorite tunes...with Leon Thomas, yet? How did this happen?
posted by kozad at 7:21 AM on July 9


yeah, sorry about that, folks, but I couldn't resist sharing that....still can't believe it's real
posted by thelonius at 7:26 AM on July 9


> I think Getty has the film playing at too fast a frame rate.

Movies of that era didn't have standardized frame rate. Complicating things further, cameras were usually hand-cranked so a single shot would vary in speed. There probably is no correct frame rate for this.
posted by ardgedee at 7:33 AM on July 9 [3 favorites]


Is this the thread where we post our favourite obscure Louis Armstrong tracks? In that case, I give you His Father Wore Long Hair.

And if you want Louis to tell his story in his own words, there's Boy From New Orleans. He doesn't mention the newspaper selling in that song, unfortunately.
posted by clawsoon at 8:32 AM on July 9 [4 favorites]


I think it's fine that Armstrong covered The Creator Has a Master Plan, but I get chills every time I hear the opening bars of Sanders' original.

As for whether or not the clip shows a young Armstrong, I want to believe.
posted by vverse23 at 11:02 AM on July 9 [3 favorites]


Here is The Creator Has A Master Plan as it's meant to be heard. Or, if you're a purist.

He had me convinced for a minute there there that Pharoah Sanders was covering Louis and I didn't know it all these years, but no, of course it's the other way around. Though one could argue that the true purist version is A Love Supreme.
posted by atoxyl at 9:34 PM on July 9 [1 favorite]


If we’re talking Armstrong songs - and films of Armstrong - one could do much worse than “Shine.” The idiotic little short film it accompanies is certainly quite racist; but it’s worth noting that “shine” was at the time a racial slur, and the song had been written in 1910 by two survivors of the 1900 race riot in New York. Armstrong always had a clear idea about what he was doing, even when he was surrounded by muck.
posted by koeselitz at 10:56 PM on July 10 [2 favorites]


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