Cab Calloway's Hi-De-Ho


10m 1937

Brief Synopsis

Cab Calloway is told by a fortune teller that he will better his lot in life in this musical short film. Vitaphone Release 2078.

Film Details

Also Known As
Cab Calloway (and His Orchestra) in Hi De Ho
Genre
Musical
Short
Music
Release Date
1937
Production Company
Vitaphone; Warner Bros. Pictures
Distribution Company
Warner Bros. Pictures

Technical Specs

Duration
10m

Synopsis

Cab Calloway is told by a fortune teller that he will better his lot in life in this musical short film. Vitaphone Release 2078.

Film Details

Also Known As
Cab Calloway (and His Orchestra) in Hi De Ho
Genre
Musical
Short
Music
Release Date
1937
Production Company
Vitaphone; Warner Bros. Pictures
Distribution Company
Warner Bros. Pictures

Technical Specs

Duration
10m

Articles

Vitaphone Bands


In the early years of talkies, Warner Bros. turned out a great number of shorts through its Vitaphone subsidiary, shown as novelties and added attractions in enterprising movie theaters. Music was a staple of Vitaphone production, and popular bands of the era had excellent synergy with the company finding larger and more diverse audiences than they could ever have enjoyed before the advent of motion pictures. Today, the Vitaphone band movies are a reliable source of nostalgic entertainment and a valuable archive of blasts from the musical past.

The Band Beautiful (1928) is an aptly titled film starring an aptly named troupe called The Ingenues, a dance orchestra consisting of 18 women. Although they're all decked out in flowery outfits, there's not a shrinking violet among them, and they're versatile musicians, too. After kicking off the show with a fairly conventional number, half of them pick up accordions for a display of group virtuosity on that instrument, and a little later they morph into an all-banjo band, singing Irving Berlin's "Shaking the Blues Away" while strumming up a storm. Other tunes have more ordinary orchestration, but their rendition of "Tiger Rag" adds a kazoo into the mix. In all, it's a diverting entertainment by a talented and offbeat ensemble. Among their other achievements, they inspired some nifty titles for films that featured them, including Syncopating Sweeties (1928) and Maids and Music (1937).

The music in The Yacht Party (1932) comes from Roger Wolfe Kahn & His Orchestra, but the visual highlight is a high-kicking dance by Melissa Mason, a long-legged ballerina whose limbs seem to move in every direction but the ones you expect. Performers like her and Gertrude Nielsen, a versatile singer who does musical impressions, were regulars when vaudeville theaters were alive and well, and thanks to movies like this their carefully honed acts live on today. The songs and dances take place on the yacht of the title, but in the last scene the camera takes a sudden interest in an airplane flying overhead. This is apparently meant to indicate that Kahn is leading the band by tilting the wings, which actually makes sense since he was an aviator as well as a musician. It's an unexpected touch in a sprightly little movie.

You guessed it, Barber Shop Blues (1933) begins in a barber shop, and when the proprietor gets rich by hitting a lucky number he gives the place a new look and a new sound by bringing in Claude Hopkins and Band to entertain the customers while the haircutting staff spruces them up. This all-Black musical is one of many Vitaphone shorts that were also "race movies," made and marketed with African-American audiences in mind. In addition to Hopkins and company, the cast includes Orlando Roberson singing Joyce Kilmer's famous poem "Trees" - Roberson's gooey delivery of Kilmer's sentimental verse is a low point of the movie - and the Four Step Brothers, a quartet of fabulous tap dancers. If only all barbershops offered such splendid hoofing to their patrons!

Johnny Green & His Orchestra (1935) begins with Johnny Green on his own in the Blue Ridge Mountains resting at the Wide Awake Lodge on Sleepy Hollow Lake - an interesting combination of names - while awaiting the arrival of his band for their engagement, which starts the following day. Deciding that the Wide Awake Lodge is too drowsy for him, he shakes the place up with some lively piano music, and when his band arrives they all perform on the front porch of the establishment joined by dancer Duke McHale and various singers. Many of the numbers are by Green and one song is played by an ocarina trio. It's a nice mix overall.

Special effects abound in Jimmie Lunceford and His Dance Orchestra (1936), a lively concert film that begins with the devil shouting out praise of syncopated rhythms while the flames of Hades shoot up around him. Lunceford's band then jumps into action with superimposed musicians, a chorus line and dancers filling every corner of the screen. The visuals eventually settle down, but the band is still marvelous to see dominated by a bright white piano, an elevated percussion set and a stage design featuring a swirl of stylized music notes. Also on view are dancing sax players and drummers who "play" chairs instead of drums, making this Vitaphone Melody Master an unpredictable treat.

In the 1950s, the trumpeter-singer-bandleader Louis Prima headlined a handful of rock'n'roll movies and had a major pop hit with "That Old Black Magic," a Grammy winner for him and Keely Smith, then his wife and partner. But back in 1938, when he starred in Swing Cat's Jamboree (1938), he was fronting a quintet and jazzing up standards like the ones heard in this nightclub concert movie, including "I Can't Give You Anything But Love," with Shirley Lloyd doing the vocal and "Loch Lomond" during which the band and the dancing customers inexplicably appear in Scottish outfits. Ted Gary sings and tap dances with Mitzi Dahl and Prima both sings and delivers hot licks on his trumpet. A good time is had by all.

Cab Calloway and His Orchestra made more than one movie with "Hi De Ho" in the title, including Josh Binney's feature-length 1947 musical and a 1934 short directed by Fred Waller titled Cab Calloway's Hi-De-Ho. The 1937 short Hi De Ho, directed by Vitaphone mainstay Roy Mack, begins with Calloway teaching himself to be a conductor by waving his baton in front of a radio playing "I Gotta Right to Sing the Blues," which he then sings to his hard-working mother in their modest living room. His crooning catches the ear of a preacher passing by, and the preacher's wife then reads his tealeaves foretelling a bright musical future for him. Three visions of that future then appear. In the first, Calloway conducts "Hi-De-Ho Miracle Man" in front of his apartment building, where musicians are perched behind the windows; in the second, he sings of his troubles with "Frisco Flo" while the silhouetted band plays in shadow; and in the third, he's on a concert stage with the elegantly dressed orchestra accompanying his delirious scat singing in "Some of These Days." Some of the film's dialogue is marvelous, as when the tealeaf reader says that "status quo" is "Latin for the mess you's in," and the songs are made to order for Calloway's tremendous talents. Jazz fans will also enjoy spotting tenor sax player Ben Webster, trumpeter Doc Cheatham and bassist Milt Hinton among the musical personnel.

The early Vitaphone short featuring Gus Arnheim and His Cocoanut Grove Orchestra (1928) is a straightforward concert movie showing the band entertaining patrons in a nightclub. The program starts with two Irving Berlin numbers, "Always" and "I Can't Do Without You," before taking on a Latin beat with "La Rosita" and concluding with "(If You Want to Miss a Heaven on Earth) Stay Out of the South," bouncily sung by the band's ukulele virtuoso. The picture was undoubtedly an effective opener for an evening at the movies in 1928.

Harry Reser and His Eskimos (1936) bear out their name by dressing in cold-weather attire and playing on a stage decked out like an enormous igloo. Everything is covered with snow and icicles and it's no wonder that when an ice salesman shows up - the film has comedy, too - he doesn't manage to make a sale. There's smooth-as-silk playing on everything from Hawaiian-style slide guitar (in this Alaskan setting!) and Hammond organ, as well as lovely crooning by Lynn Gordon and the Modernaires on "You Hit the Spot" and a thumping "Tiger Rag" with bandleader Reser breaking out his banjo for a bravura solo. The most amazing sight is the Three Yates Sisters doing "Tap on Toe," a tap dance done on their toes. Anything can happen in a Vitaphone Melody Master short.

The 1933 picture featuring the Mills Blue Rhythm Band begins at the Blue Rhythm Club, where the eponymous ensemble entertains the crowd with spirited sounds supplemented by dancing and singing. When one of the patrons says he needs to hold a rent party to raise funds, everyone parades to his posh penthouse - more suitable for a millionaire than for someone who needs to have rent parties - and the fun continues, complete with a trio of tap-dancing police officers. The movie turns weird just before the end when the stylish clothing of the merrily dancing partiers abruptly turns into the kind of stereotyped "native" garb you'd see in a low-budget Hollywood jungle movie of old. Then presto, they're back in their dinner clothes for the finale. What's the point? It's impossible to say, but it adds a touch of wild surprise to this Vitaphone Melody Master.

The Band Beautiful
Music: Oscar Levant, Walter Donaldson, Ethelbert Nevin, Irving Berlin, Edwin B. Edwards, Nick LaRocca, Tony Sbarbaro, Henry Ragas, Larry Shields
With: The Ingenues (themselves)
BW-9m.

The Yacht Party
Director: Roy Mack
Cinematographer: E.B. DuPar
Music: Turner Layton, J. Fred Coots, Aarold Arlen, Joseph Meyer, Roger Wolfe Kahn, Walter Donaldson, James V. Monaco, Harry Akst, Bernice Petkere
With: Roger Wolfe Kahn, Gertrude Nissen, Melissa Mason, The Foursome, Jay Johnson, Del Porter, Roger Wolfe Kahn Orchestra (themselves)
BW-9m.

Barber Shop Blues
Director: Joseph Henabery
Producer:
Screenplay:
Cinematographer: E.B. DuPar
Film Editing:
Art Direction:
Music:
With: Orlando Roberson, The Four Step Brothers, Claude Hopkins & Orchestra (themselves)
BW-10m.

Johnny Green & His Orchestra
Director: Joseph Henabery
Producer: Samuel Sax
Cinematographer: E.B. DuPar
Music: Johnny Green, Bernice Petkere, Sammy Fain, Robert Sauer, Milt Taggart, Frank Welson, Harry Warren
With: Jay Johnson (Marvin), Del Porter (Elmer), Marjory Logan, Jimmy Farrell, Duke McHale, Johnny Green & His Orchestra (themselves)
BW-11m.

Jimmie Lunceford and His Dance Orchestra
Director: Joseph Henabery
Producer: Samuel Sax
Cinematographer: Ray Foster
Music: Saul Chaplin, Jimmie Lunceford, Milton Ager, Charles Newman, Murray Mencher, Sherman Wallace, Harry Warren, Will Hudson
With: The Three Brown Jacks, Myra Johnson, Jimmie Lunceford and His Dance Orchestra (themselves)
BW-7m.

Swing Cat's Jamboree
Director: Roy Mack
Producer: Samuel Sax
Cinematographer: Ray Foster
Music: Turner Layton, Jimmy McHugh, Saul Chaplin, Harry Warren
With: Louis Prima, Shirley Lloyd, Ted Gary, Mitzi Dahl (themselves)
BW-9m.

Hi De Ho
Director: Roy Mack
Screenplay: Burnet Hershey
Cinematographer: Ray Foster
Film Editing: Bert Frank
Music: Harold Arlen, J. Fred Coots, Shelton Brooks
With: Cab Calloway and His Cotton Club Orchestra (themselves)
BW-11m.

Gus Arnheim and His Cocoanut Grove Orchestra
Music: Irving Berlin, Paul Dupont, Harold Dixon
With: Gus Arnheim, Sunny Howard, Harry Robinson (themselves)
BW-10m.

Harry Reser and His Eskimos
Director: Roy Mack
Producer:
Screenplay:
Cinematographer: Ray Foster
Film Editing:
Art Direction:
Music: Harry Reser, Harry Warren, Harry Revel, Cliff Hess, Edwin B. Edwards, Nick LaRocca, Tony Sbarbaro, Henry Ragas, Larry Shields
With: The Three Yates Sisters, The Modernaires, Lynn Gordon, Harry Reser and His Eskimos (themselves)
BW-9m.

Mills Blue Rhythm Band
Director: Roy Mack
Screenplay: Cyrus Wood
Cinematographer: E.B. DuPar
Music: Alexander Hill, Claude Hopkins, Bob Williams, Victor Young, James P. Johnson, Burton Lane,Harry Revel, Harry White, Mlise Simons
With: Sally Gooding, Fredi Washington, Hamtree Harrington, "Blues" McAllister, The Three Dukes, Mills Blue Rhythm Band (themselves)
BW-10m.

by David Sterritt
Vitaphone Bands

Vitaphone Bands

In the early years of talkies, Warner Bros. turned out a great number of shorts through its Vitaphone subsidiary, shown as novelties and added attractions in enterprising movie theaters. Music was a staple of Vitaphone production, and popular bands of the era had excellent synergy with the company finding larger and more diverse audiences than they could ever have enjoyed before the advent of motion pictures. Today, the Vitaphone band movies are a reliable source of nostalgic entertainment and a valuable archive of blasts from the musical past. The Band Beautiful (1928) is an aptly titled film starring an aptly named troupe called The Ingenues, a dance orchestra consisting of 18 women. Although they're all decked out in flowery outfits, there's not a shrinking violet among them, and they're versatile musicians, too. After kicking off the show with a fairly conventional number, half of them pick up accordions for a display of group virtuosity on that instrument, and a little later they morph into an all-banjo band, singing Irving Berlin's "Shaking the Blues Away" while strumming up a storm. Other tunes have more ordinary orchestration, but their rendition of "Tiger Rag" adds a kazoo into the mix. In all, it's a diverting entertainment by a talented and offbeat ensemble. Among their other achievements, they inspired some nifty titles for films that featured them, including Syncopating Sweeties (1928) and Maids and Music (1937). The music in The Yacht Party (1932) comes from Roger Wolfe Kahn & His Orchestra, but the visual highlight is a high-kicking dance by Melissa Mason, a long-legged ballerina whose limbs seem to move in every direction but the ones you expect. Performers like her and Gertrude Nielsen, a versatile singer who does musical impressions, were regulars when vaudeville theaters were alive and well, and thanks to movies like this their carefully honed acts live on today. The songs and dances take place on the yacht of the title, but in the last scene the camera takes a sudden interest in an airplane flying overhead. This is apparently meant to indicate that Kahn is leading the band by tilting the wings, which actually makes sense since he was an aviator as well as a musician. It's an unexpected touch in a sprightly little movie. You guessed it, Barber Shop Blues (1933) begins in a barber shop, and when the proprietor gets rich by hitting a lucky number he gives the place a new look and a new sound by bringing in Claude Hopkins and Band to entertain the customers while the haircutting staff spruces them up. This all-Black musical is one of many Vitaphone shorts that were also "race movies," made and marketed with African-American audiences in mind. In addition to Hopkins and company, the cast includes Orlando Roberson singing Joyce Kilmer's famous poem "Trees" - Roberson's gooey delivery of Kilmer's sentimental verse is a low point of the movie - and the Four Step Brothers, a quartet of fabulous tap dancers. If only all barbershops offered such splendid hoofing to their patrons! Johnny Green & His Orchestra (1935) begins with Johnny Green on his own in the Blue Ridge Mountains resting at the Wide Awake Lodge on Sleepy Hollow Lake - an interesting combination of names - while awaiting the arrival of his band for their engagement, which starts the following day. Deciding that the Wide Awake Lodge is too drowsy for him, he shakes the place up with some lively piano music, and when his band arrives they all perform on the front porch of the establishment joined by dancer Duke McHale and various singers. Many of the numbers are by Green and one song is played by an ocarina trio. It's a nice mix overall. Special effects abound in Jimmie Lunceford and His Dance Orchestra (1936), a lively concert film that begins with the devil shouting out praise of syncopated rhythms while the flames of Hades shoot up around him. Lunceford's band then jumps into action with superimposed musicians, a chorus line and dancers filling every corner of the screen. The visuals eventually settle down, but the band is still marvelous to see dominated by a bright white piano, an elevated percussion set and a stage design featuring a swirl of stylized music notes. Also on view are dancing sax players and drummers who "play" chairs instead of drums, making this Vitaphone Melody Master an unpredictable treat. In the 1950s, the trumpeter-singer-bandleader Louis Prima headlined a handful of rock'n'roll movies and had a major pop hit with "That Old Black Magic," a Grammy winner for him and Keely Smith, then his wife and partner. But back in 1938, when he starred in Swing Cat's Jamboree (1938), he was fronting a quintet and jazzing up standards like the ones heard in this nightclub concert movie, including "I Can't Give You Anything But Love," with Shirley Lloyd doing the vocal and "Loch Lomond" during which the band and the dancing customers inexplicably appear in Scottish outfits. Ted Gary sings and tap dances with Mitzi Dahl and Prima both sings and delivers hot licks on his trumpet. A good time is had by all. Cab Calloway and His Orchestra made more than one movie with "Hi De Ho" in the title, including Josh Binney's feature-length 1947 musical and a 1934 short directed by Fred Waller titled Cab Calloway's Hi-De-Ho. The 1937 short Hi De Ho, directed by Vitaphone mainstay Roy Mack, begins with Calloway teaching himself to be a conductor by waving his baton in front of a radio playing "I Gotta Right to Sing the Blues," which he then sings to his hard-working mother in their modest living room. His crooning catches the ear of a preacher passing by, and the preacher's wife then reads his tealeaves foretelling a bright musical future for him. Three visions of that future then appear. In the first, Calloway conducts "Hi-De-Ho Miracle Man" in front of his apartment building, where musicians are perched behind the windows; in the second, he sings of his troubles with "Frisco Flo" while the silhouetted band plays in shadow; and in the third, he's on a concert stage with the elegantly dressed orchestra accompanying his delirious scat singing in "Some of These Days." Some of the film's dialogue is marvelous, as when the tealeaf reader says that "status quo" is "Latin for the mess you's in," and the songs are made to order for Calloway's tremendous talents. Jazz fans will also enjoy spotting tenor sax player Ben Webster, trumpeter Doc Cheatham and bassist Milt Hinton among the musical personnel. The early Vitaphone short featuring Gus Arnheim and His Cocoanut Grove Orchestra (1928) is a straightforward concert movie showing the band entertaining patrons in a nightclub. The program starts with two Irving Berlin numbers, "Always" and "I Can't Do Without You," before taking on a Latin beat with "La Rosita" and concluding with "(If You Want to Miss a Heaven on Earth) Stay Out of the South," bouncily sung by the band's ukulele virtuoso. The picture was undoubtedly an effective opener for an evening at the movies in 1928. Harry Reser and His Eskimos (1936) bear out their name by dressing in cold-weather attire and playing on a stage decked out like an enormous igloo. Everything is covered with snow and icicles and it's no wonder that when an ice salesman shows up - the film has comedy, too - he doesn't manage to make a sale. There's smooth-as-silk playing on everything from Hawaiian-style slide guitar (in this Alaskan setting!) and Hammond organ, as well as lovely crooning by Lynn Gordon and the Modernaires on "You Hit the Spot" and a thumping "Tiger Rag" with bandleader Reser breaking out his banjo for a bravura solo. The most amazing sight is the Three Yates Sisters doing "Tap on Toe," a tap dance done on their toes. Anything can happen in a Vitaphone Melody Master short. The 1933 picture featuring the Mills Blue Rhythm Band begins at the Blue Rhythm Club, where the eponymous ensemble entertains the crowd with spirited sounds supplemented by dancing and singing. When one of the patrons says he needs to hold a rent party to raise funds, everyone parades to his posh penthouse - more suitable for a millionaire than for someone who needs to have rent parties - and the fun continues, complete with a trio of tap-dancing police officers. The movie turns weird just before the end when the stylish clothing of the merrily dancing partiers abruptly turns into the kind of stereotyped "native" garb you'd see in a low-budget Hollywood jungle movie of old. Then presto, they're back in their dinner clothes for the finale. What's the point? It's impossible to say, but it adds a touch of wild surprise to this Vitaphone Melody Master. The Band Beautiful Music: Oscar Levant, Walter Donaldson, Ethelbert Nevin, Irving Berlin, Edwin B. Edwards, Nick LaRocca, Tony Sbarbaro, Henry Ragas, Larry Shields With: The Ingenues (themselves) BW-9m. The Yacht Party Director: Roy Mack Cinematographer: E.B. DuPar Music: Turner Layton, J. Fred Coots, Aarold Arlen, Joseph Meyer, Roger Wolfe Kahn, Walter Donaldson, James V. Monaco, Harry Akst, Bernice Petkere With: Roger Wolfe Kahn, Gertrude Nissen, Melissa Mason, The Foursome, Jay Johnson, Del Porter, Roger Wolfe Kahn Orchestra (themselves) BW-9m. Barber Shop Blues Director: Joseph Henabery Producer: Screenplay: Cinematographer: E.B. DuPar Film Editing: Art Direction: Music: With: Orlando Roberson, The Four Step Brothers, Claude Hopkins & Orchestra (themselves) BW-10m. Johnny Green & His Orchestra Director: Joseph Henabery Producer: Samuel Sax Cinematographer: E.B. DuPar Music: Johnny Green, Bernice Petkere, Sammy Fain, Robert Sauer, Milt Taggart, Frank Welson, Harry Warren With: Jay Johnson (Marvin), Del Porter (Elmer), Marjory Logan, Jimmy Farrell, Duke McHale, Johnny Green & His Orchestra (themselves) BW-11m. Jimmie Lunceford and His Dance Orchestra Director: Joseph Henabery Producer: Samuel Sax Cinematographer: Ray Foster Music: Saul Chaplin, Jimmie Lunceford, Milton Ager, Charles Newman, Murray Mencher, Sherman Wallace, Harry Warren, Will Hudson With: The Three Brown Jacks, Myra Johnson, Jimmie Lunceford and His Dance Orchestra (themselves) BW-7m. Swing Cat's Jamboree Director: Roy Mack Producer: Samuel Sax Cinematographer: Ray Foster Music: Turner Layton, Jimmy McHugh, Saul Chaplin, Harry Warren With: Louis Prima, Shirley Lloyd, Ted Gary, Mitzi Dahl (themselves) BW-9m. Hi De Ho Director: Roy Mack Screenplay: Burnet Hershey Cinematographer: Ray Foster Film Editing: Bert Frank Music: Harold Arlen, J. Fred Coots, Shelton Brooks With: Cab Calloway and His Cotton Club Orchestra (themselves) BW-11m. Gus Arnheim and His Cocoanut Grove Orchestra Music: Irving Berlin, Paul Dupont, Harold Dixon With: Gus Arnheim, Sunny Howard, Harry Robinson (themselves) BW-10m. Harry Reser and His Eskimos Director: Roy Mack Producer: Screenplay: Cinematographer: Ray Foster Film Editing: Art Direction: Music: Harry Reser, Harry Warren, Harry Revel, Cliff Hess, Edwin B. Edwards, Nick LaRocca, Tony Sbarbaro, Henry Ragas, Larry Shields With: The Three Yates Sisters, The Modernaires, Lynn Gordon, Harry Reser and His Eskimos (themselves) BW-9m. Mills Blue Rhythm Band Director: Roy Mack Screenplay: Cyrus Wood Cinematographer: E.B. DuPar Music: Alexander Hill, Claude Hopkins, Bob Williams, Victor Young, James P. Johnson, Burton Lane,Harry Revel, Harry White, Mlise Simons With: Sally Gooding, Fredi Washington, Hamtree Harrington, "Blues" McAllister, The Three Dukes, Mills Blue Rhythm Band (themselves) BW-10m. by David Sterritt

Quotes

Trivia