Posts Tagged ‘Panoram’


I heard from the filmmaker, Eric Krasner, who made the video, Yiddish Hillbillies,  that I used in Friday’s blogpost.  I will write more about Mr. Krasner’s work in another post but while looking through some of the oddities that he shows on his  CineGraphic Studios’s YouTube channel, I came across something that was off my radar screen– the Soundies.

Soundies were short, 2-3 minute, films that were produced primarily in the 1940’s to be shown in Panoram machines, coin operated devices that were often placed in bars, bus stations and coffee houses.  They projected a 16mm film from the rear onto a screen at the front, much like a TV in viewing , or into a peepshow setup where only one person could view the film.  They were pretty big at the time and many, many films were produced for these video jukeboxes.  There were music videos featuring the top bands and performers, both white and black, of the era as well as comedy bits and cheesecake videos with strippers that seem pretty mild by today’s standards.  I had seen some of these videos before but didn’t realize this was the machine for which they were produced.

With the huge growth of popularity of the television in the 1950’s, the Panoram machines fell out of favor but the films that they spawned are still around and are a treasure trove of rare performances.  Here’s a short promo video from a PBS documentary on the Soundies that gives a taste of the films.

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