Public Enemies

Public Enemies

Lisa Ryan
Lisa Ryan

July 5th, 2009, 10:09 pm #1

After seeing Johnny Depp's Dillinger biopic last night, I've
been wondering how well known Billie Holiday was during the
time frame of the movie (spring 1933 to July 1934)

It seemed like every time someone turned on the radio
a Billie Holiday song was playing. I know she recorded in
1933, but ... is this realistic?
Just wondering! (I figure there might be an expert or two
out there who could answer this question!)


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Bob Kelley
Bob Kelley

July 5th, 2009, 10:47 pm #2

liberties there.

I'm no expert, but a quick check tells me she cut two songs with Benny Goodman in late 1933 but she didn't really get started with the successful recordings until 1935.

People nowadays think she was cool and they might not know the singers who really were on the radio then, so the director went for the audience impact of Lady Day.

I'll be interested to see what you learn here. I love the sound of Billie's voice (and she had fantastic bands backing her) but to be honest I get tired of some of the songwriting material you hear in her best-known recordings, "Summertime," "God Bless the Child," etc.

I like her take on "Back in Your Own Back Yard" (in fact I learned to perform it based on her track) and her dreamy vibe in "Without Your Love."

I almost forgot to ask:

How was the movie? I'm intrigued by the rich look of the stills and the interesting central plot angle of using Myrna Loy as bait.





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George Hocutt
George Hocutt

July 5th, 2009, 10:52 pm #3

After seeing Johnny Depp's Dillinger biopic last night, I've
been wondering how well known Billie Holiday was during the
time frame of the movie (spring 1933 to July 1934)

It seemed like every time someone turned on the radio
a Billie Holiday song was playing. I know she recorded in
1933, but ... is this realistic?
Just wondering! (I figure there might be an expert or two
out there who could answer this question!)

Billy was not that well known in the early thirties. Radio stations did not play many records at that time. That came later. The errors in this film are egregious. It is a close, to Dillinger, as Young Man With A Horn was to the life of Bix. Just enjoy the movie as another Hollywood treatment or should I say mistreatment of a biography. Why.

George
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

July 5th, 2009, 10:56 pm #4

After seeing Johnny Depp's Dillinger biopic last night, I've
been wondering how well known Billie Holiday was during the
time frame of the movie (spring 1933 to July 1934)

It seemed like every time someone turned on the radio
a Billie Holiday song was playing. I know she recorded in
1933, but ... is this realistic?
Just wondering! (I figure there might be an expert or two
out there who could answer this question!)

According to amazon.com, the soundtrack of "Public Enemies" includes three songs performed by Billie Holiday

- Love Me Or Leave Me Recorded Aug 7, 1941
- Am I Blue? Recorded May 9, 1941
- The Man I Love Recorded Dec 19, 1940

If the action in the movie spans the time frame Spring 1933 to Jul 1934, there are problems. Moreover, the only recording session of Billie Holiday within this time frame dates from Nov 27, 1933 (1 tune recorded). [Reference, Lord's disco]

Turn the radio on before Jul 1934 and you hear Billie Holiday singing the three tunes above? Talk about anachronisms!

The producers should have asked Vince to act as a musical advisor.

Albert

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Emrah Erken
Emrah Erken

July 5th, 2009, 11:25 pm #5

After seeing Johnny Depp's Dillinger biopic last night, I've
been wondering how well known Billie Holiday was during the
time frame of the movie (spring 1933 to July 1934)

It seemed like every time someone turned on the radio
a Billie Holiday song was playing. I know she recorded in
1933, but ... is this realistic?
Just wondering! (I figure there might be an expert or two
out there who could answer this question!)

Hello Lisa

I'm a huge fan of Billie Holiday and I can tell you that she was not known at all in in 1933 and 1934.

In November and December 1933, Billie recorded two sides with Benny Goodman ("Your Mother's Son-In-Law" and "Riffin' The Scotch"). Previously, Ethel Waters should have done the singing on these records. What I mean by that is that is wasn't even planned that Billie did the singing. These two records were not a breakthrough at all for Billie Holiday. In 1933 and 1934, Billie had to work in Pops Fosters group (not to be mixed up with the New Orleans bass player). Pops Foster had a group with a few entertainment artists who went from club to club in Harlem and performed for tips.

It was in 1935, when Billie Holiday had her breakthrough. Her first appearance as a singer outside from Harlem was in Duke Ellington's film "Symphony In Black"(March 12, 1935). In the same year, she became a star in the Apollo Theatre...

Her performance with Ralph Cooper & His Kings of Melody from April 24, 1935 in the Apollo Theatre was broadcasted (unfortunately not recorded). Her stage name for the show was misspelled (Billie Halliday) because people didn't know her at all. That was the very first time that Billie Holiday was on radio.

In July 1935, she recorded the very first time with Teddy Wilson & His Orchestra. Benny Goodman was also part of the band. He was not amused at all that John Hammond (producer of Billie) more or less forced him to take part in that recording session and he didn't stay until the ending of the session...

I have seen many movies with Billie Holiday performing at the radio. One of them is the chick-flick "The Notebook". When Allie and Noah dance to "I'll Be Seeing You" in 1939, the song was not even recorded yet (recorded on April 1st, 1944). In "Schindler's List", Schindler is listening to Billie Holiday in Krakow in the early 1940s. Polish radio playing Billie Holiday in the early 1940s and a person like Schindler listening to such music? Funny, isn't it?


Emrah


Emrah




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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

July 6th, 2009, 12:27 am #6

According to amazon.com, the soundtrack of "Public Enemies" includes three songs performed by Billie Holiday

- Love Me Or Leave Me Recorded Aug 7, 1941
- Am I Blue? Recorded May 9, 1941
- The Man I Love Recorded Dec 19, 1940

If the action in the movie spans the time frame Spring 1933 to Jul 1934, there are problems. Moreover, the only recording session of Billie Holiday within this time frame dates from Nov 27, 1933 (1 tune recorded). [Reference, Lord's disco]

Turn the radio on before Jul 1934 and you hear Billie Holiday singing the three tunes above? Talk about anachronisms!

The producers should have asked Vince to act as a musical advisor.

Albert
... only lists the Nov 27 1933 session of Billie with Benny. Rust lists both the Nov 27 and Dec 18, 1933 sessions. Surprising hecsuse Lord often follows Rust closely.

Albert

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Emrah Erken
Emrah Erken

July 6th, 2009, 12:54 am #7

... because the December 18, 1933 session was with Benny Goodman & His Orchestra ("Riffin' The Scotch").

"Riffin' The Scotch" was recorded also on December 4, 1933 but both takes of the song were rejected. "Tappin' The Barrel" (the flip of "Your Mother's Son-In-Law") was recorded at this session.

Emrah
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Lisa Ryan
Lisa Ryan

July 6th, 2009, 1:02 am #8

Billy was not that well known in the early thirties. Radio stations did not play many records at that time. That came later. The errors in this film are egregious. It is a close, to Dillinger, as Young Man With A Horn was to the life of Bix. Just enjoy the movie as another Hollywood treatment or should I say mistreatment of a biography. Why.

George
I was disappointed. The theater was packed and the audience consisted
mainly of extremely bored, antsy teenagers who seemed to be expecting
a Johnny Depp pirate movie featuring the rap group Public Enemy!

Most of the music (with the exception of several blues numbers by
Otis Taylor, which were terrific) seemed irritatingly anachronistic -
sounding more like 1940's big band stuff and 1950's lounge music rather
than anything that would have been played in 1933-34.

There were historical inaccuracies .. there were even cinematic inaccuracies:
Baby Face Nelson, drunk at a bar, starts doing his James Cagney impersonation,
doing a bit from "Angels with Dirty Faces" ("Whaddya hear, whaddya say?")
- a movie which came out in 1938.





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Bob Kelley
Bob Kelley

July 6th, 2009, 3:07 am #9

my wife yesterday in our living room while a movie played on cable with the sound off on our big flat-screen.

I was standing near the screen, facing mostly away, and paused to notice it was a western and your father was the central figure in the scene (I could easily find out which movie but don't think it matters). I took the chance to tell Andrea about the wonderful videos you do and was able to gesture at the screen with my thumb and say "his daughter." She hears a lot of music talk from me, but this one really got her attention!

I like the Cagney line about how "I wouldn't give him the satisfaction."

Anyway, I wouldn't care that much if a particular song or car or whatever is off by a couple of years, but hearing the more polished swing and lounge music from a decade or more later would distract me.

I prefer the raw exuberance of music from the late '20s and early '30s.

As you watch movies from that area, it's fun to note the little passing fads, expressions like "for the love of Mike" or "What's the gag?" (what's going on) or calling rich people swells.




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Jon Pytko
Jon Pytko

July 6th, 2009, 5:15 am #10

I was disappointed. The theater was packed and the audience consisted
mainly of extremely bored, antsy teenagers who seemed to be expecting
a Johnny Depp pirate movie featuring the rap group Public Enemy!

Most of the music (with the exception of several blues numbers by
Otis Taylor, which were terrific) seemed irritatingly anachronistic -
sounding more like 1940's big band stuff and 1950's lounge music rather
than anything that would have been played in 1933-34.

There were historical inaccuracies .. there were even cinematic inaccuracies:
Baby Face Nelson, drunk at a bar, starts doing his James Cagney impersonation,
doing a bit from "Angels with Dirty Faces" ("Whaddya hear, whaddya say?")
- a movie which came out in 1938.




Seeing that many people in this country probably don't even know the first thing about life before WWII, in any aspect, goofs like the aforementioned only serve to perpetuate misconceptions in the hope of making "connections."

Although...you never know...maybe because of this film, one person will become a Billie Holliday fan.

I sometimes wonder if there is a conjecture on the part of "people today" that the human race before, say, 1940, walked around on all fours and made no advancements at all for the supercilious disregard that the era is held in.
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