We love movies, among other things.
September 2010, issue 56
"Have you got two tens for a five?" --Bud Abbott, from a vaudeville routine with Lou Costello.
Look Ahead, Look Around, Look Back
Welcome to the new school year! Naturally, September is a time for looking forward, so full of new faces, fresh dreams, and exciting possibilities. Don't forget to visit the Friendly Neighborhood Library Media Center, fifth floor LLC!
I teach an Orientation Seminar section every fall, and I love meeting the incoming students and getting to know them a little bit. Every fall, one of the most important things we talk about is the role of personal responsibility in a successful college education. Every incoming student can succeed here, but that success depends most of all upon the dedication and hard work and organization of that individual student. Day to day, when you look at your face in the mirror every morning, you're looking at the person responsible for your success in college.
And then I tell them to look around campus. Look at the faces of your teachers, advisors, librarians and library staff, administrators, maintenance workers, IT workers, buildings and grounds workers; look at the face of every person who works at LIU Brooklyn, and look at every fellow student. I can't even name all the people and positions who are here to help you.
Yes, you alone are responsible for your success, but you are not alone. Built into this campus is a support system to help every student, and that system is all those faces, all those people. Not a one of them wants any student here to fail, to fall short of his or her goals. And there is no shame in asking for help when you need it. When you need help, look around; that support system is, as the slogan goes, "With you every step of the way."
Finally, you may notice, in the hallway outside the Luntey Commons, back by the doors that lead to the DeKalb gate, that there are a handful of trophy cases filled with memorabilia from the history of the Paramount Theatre, the resplendent former movie palace and entertainment venue that now houses 'the old gym' and the Luntey Commons and the Jonas Board room. Yes, that's why we have a cafeteria that looks like a Roman palace! This exhibit was organized and designed by Dr. Michael Hittman, Professor Stuart Fishelson, and the FMRC's Emily Kane, and next spring they plan to cut the ribbon on The Brooklyn Paramount Theatre Museum Project, permanent wall installations featuring a painted backdrop from 1933, archival photos, and music.
In the meantime, look around those cases and you'll see an array of talents from vaudeville, movies, jazz, and rock and roll. Come to the Media Center, and you'll find many of these performers in live or Hollywood performances on DVD and VHS.
For example, our terrific Jazz Icons series has archival, full length concerts featuring many of the greats who played our Paramount: Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Buddy Rich, Sarah Vaughan, and Count Basie. The Jazz Icons series is a real treasure in our collections. We also have documentaries about many of these musicians.
Although we may not have live performances of all of the jazz greats who played here, you can find many of them performing in Hollywood films, like Hoagy Carmichael in Howard Hawks' To Have and Have Not; Gene Krupa (and others) in Boy! What a Girl and The Benny Goodman Story; Cab Calloway, Fats Waller, Bill Robinson, and the Nicholas Brothers in Stormy Weather; Duke Ellington in Anatomy of a Murder; Louis Armstrong in High Society; Rudy Vallee in the madcap The Palm Beach Story and two other films.
In the Paramount display, you'll also find movie posters for Marlene Dietrich in Blue Angel, the Marx Brothers' Monkey Business, Bette Davis in Dark Victory, first Best Picture Oscar winner Wings, the swashbuckling Adventures of Robin Hood, Astaire and Rogers in Swing Time, and the legendary comedienne Mae West.
Vaudeville was a wide ranging entertainment, and early film, radio and television borrowed much from it. The Library of Congress has many great vaudeville shorts posted here. The early musical Applause, directed by Rouben Mamoulian, is set in the burlesque and vaudeville world. Al Jolson was a famous vaudeville star who famously played a part in the introduction of sound into film.
In an "autobiographic" 1950 Bob McKimson short, "What's Up Doc?" Bugs Bunny traces his roots to vaudeville, where he originally was Elmer Fudd's second banana, of all things. Check it out in the Looney Tunes Golden Collection.
Finally, don't knock the rock. The Paramount was also a paramount venue for early rock and roll. Check out this rare documentary from WGBH Boston and the BBC on the early years of rock and roll. The first two hours, Renegades/In the Groove, cover such performers as Chuck Berry, Little Richard, The Coasters, Ben E. King and the Drifters, Phil Spector and his Wall of Sound recordings with the Ronettes, the Crystals, and more. The fourth episode, Respect, covers Motown and STAX, Aretha Franklin, James Brown, and Otis Redding. Also check out the documentary on Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers: I Promise to Remember. The Girl Can't Help It, directed by Termite Terrace alum Frank Tashlin, also features great performances by early rock stars like Little Richard, Eddie Cochran, the Platters, and Gene Vincent.
This just a sampling of the visual resources we have in the Media Center which relate to the rich history of our Paramount Theatre. We encourage you to come visit us and explore further.
"Oh we're the boys of the chorus/we hope you like our show/we know you're rootin' for us/but now we have to gooooo....." Bugs Bunny and chorus, "What's Up Doc?" (1950)
Other sites we like:
This issue of BCLMC is brought to you all the way from the back row by rock n roll Media Assistant Patrick Jewell. Tell your friends.
is located on the fifth floor of the Library
BCLMC BROOKLYN CAMPUS LIBRARY MEDIA CENTER