A Chronicle of America’s Jazz Age is a 1950 American documentary film produced by Richard de Rochemont. The film is narrated by Frederick Lewis Allen, Robert Q. Lewis, Allen Prescott, Red Barber, and Elmer Davis. The film opens with shots of city streets lined with cars and sidewalks full of people, before cutting to the front of the New York Public Library (01:21), where a young man browses the American History section before coming across the book that leads into the footage of the 1920s. The first topic is the Armistice of 1918 (03:55), and a crowd gathers in Times Square to celebrate. The steamship George Washington (04:33) takes President Woodrow Wilson to Europe, but Americans are distracted by entertainment including “human flies” who climb buildings (04:54), wing walkers on airplanes (06:12), and baseball games between the Giants and Yankees (05:07). Fashion dominates the day, and French fashion leads the way with night gowns (05:17) and extravagant hats. Aviation is captivating the nation: the Navy’s NC-4 (06:23) takes off on its flight to Great Britain; a British R-34 (06:44) moves across the sky; planes make up the Post Office Air Mail Service (07:00); famous WWI ace fighter pilots Eddie Rickenbacker and Bert Acosta (07:15) pose for photos. American soldiers, like Alvin York, return to the U.S. aboard steamships (08:14). The American Legion holds the 1921 convention in Kansas City (08:36), which features Baron Jacques of Belgium (08:56), Britain’s Sir David Beatty, and General John J. Pershing. Elsewhere, race riots plague city streets (09:19) and the KKK (09:39) spreads its influence. Labor activists like Old Mother Jones (10:28) fight for better wages. In Boston, the police force goes on strike (11:00), leading to the development of a voluntary police force. Massachusetts Governor Calvin Coolidge (11:33) gains popularity saying the police have no right to strike against public safety. A bombing hits Wall Street just outside JP Morgan’s office (12:22). Raids on communist headquarters (12:56), stoked by anger at communists and socialists, lead to the deportation of aliens. Vaudeville acts (14:24) are very popular, featuring the likes of Harry Houdini (15:00) and Gallagher and Shean (15:20). People love the beach (15:32), especially at Atlantic City with its bathing beauty parade (15:52). Dancing takes the nation by storm, as the numbers at dance halls (16:25) swell. Classical dancing (16:38) and ballet are also popular, as is Ruth St. Dennis (16:44). Anna Pavlova and Feodor Chaliapin relax after fleeing post-Bolshevik Russia. Pianist and politician Ignace Paderewski is also popular. Sen. Henry Cabot Lodge, Sr. leads the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s opposition to President Wilson’s (17:56) League of Nations. Women vote in their first presidential election (18:42), largely supporting the handsome Warren G. Harding. Entertainer Al Jolson (19:01) also lends his support. Democrat James M Cox of Ohio (19:38) doesn’t stand a chance. Harding is sworn in (19:47). President Harding pardons Eugene V. Debs (20:56), and later calls for an international conference to limit armaments (21:47). Sky scrapers are built (20:28). Music captures the nation’s attention. The Black Bottom dance (22:05) and Peggy Hopkins Joyce (22:20). Hollywood tests the reaction of viewers to Rudolph Valentino kissing Vilma Banky (23:20). Will Hays (23:50) is signed up to clean up movies and keep reformers at bay. Popular stars include John Barrymore and Dolores Costello (24:16); Rudolph Valentino (24:26), whose funeral (24:44) is attended to by throngs of people; Rod Larocque and Vilma Banky (25:18); Charlie Chaplin of Dough and Dynamite (25:30); Douglas Fairbanks of 1922’s Robin Hood (26:10); the magical duo Greta Garbo and John Gilbert of 1927’s The Flesh And The Devil (26:30); and Will Rogers (26:58). Al Jolson (27:16) stars in Jazz Singer. Prohibition leads to new sources of income for organized crime. Gerald Chapman (28:30) is a criminal who is arrested and condemned to death. Chicago is home to gangs of bootleggers who are arrested but quickly freed, largely because of the city’s greedy mayor Bill Thompson (29:11). Al Capone (29:35) rules Chicago’s underworld. Religion is still a mainstay in American society, as massive churches pack in the crowds (29:52), drawn by sermons from evangelists like Billy Sunday. In Science, psychologist Emile Coue (30:14) and Austrian Dr. Adolf Lorenz, who demonstrates his bloodless surgery technique (30:23), are widely respected. Madame Marie Curie (30:45) arrives in the U.S. to accept a gift for discovering radium, and Thomas Edison (31:05) remains a nationally respected figure.
This film is part of the Periscope Film LLC archive, one of the largest historic military, transportation, and aviation stock footage collections in the USA. Entirely film backed, this material is available for licensing in 24p HD, 2k and 4k. For more information visit http://www.PeriscopeFilm.com
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