Take Me to the Movies: Jazz in Film–New Exhibit in the Music Library

May 21st, 2014 § 173 comments § permalink

Now through June 30

While perusing the Internet Movie Database (IMBD) I stumbled upon quite an extensive list of films that feature Jazz, and what started out as a bit of procrastination turned into an interesting research project and exhibit. Take Me to the Movies: Jazz in Film features films and television series (held in the UCLA Library collections) from ca. 1950-1975 that use both diegetic (foreground) and non-diegetic (background) Jazz as part of the soundtrack.


Jazz has been used as part of film soundtracks since the cue sheets of the Silent Film era (1894-1928). However, it became prominent as part of the soundtrack (primarily diegetic) during the Classic era (1929-1963). The UCLA Library collections have numerous highlights from the rich history of Jazz in film and television, including the cue and timing sheets from Henry Mancini’s Peter Gunn, the manuscript for Alex North’s A Streetcar Named Desire and the soundtrack for Duke Ellington’s Anatomy of a Murder. While our exhibit case will only hold so much, we’ve included as much as possible to give you an idea of both the extensiveness of our collections and the richness of Jazz as a genre in film and television. For example, the exhibit includes a sound recording and piano songbook from The Glenn Miller Story (1954) and both the sound recording and original autobiography of Billy Holiday’s Lady Sings the Blues (1956/1972).

Further Reading & Research

Want to learn more about Jazz in film? Check out these resources—

Library of Congress: Jazz in Film Bibliography

Celluloid Improvisations Archive Website

K. Gabbard Jammin’ at the margins: Jazz and the American cinema

M.B. Holbrook’s Music, movies, meanings, and markets : Cinema Jazzamatazz

K.A. McGee’s Some liked it hot : jazz women in film and television, 1928-1959

P. Stanfield Body and soul : Jazz and blues in American film, 1927-63