Syncopation (1942)

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Syncopation (1942) Poster

Covering a quarter-century of American 'syncopated" music (Ragtime, Jazz, Swing, Blues, Boogie Woogie)from prior to WWI through prohibition, the stock-market crash, the depression and the ... See full summary »

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6.5/10
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27 June 2013 | Michael_Elliott
Nice Music and Cast but Uneven Script
Syncopation (1942)

** (out of 4)

Well-meaning but ultimately flat tale trying to teach Americans why "black music" is so important. Our film follows three people throughout a twenty-plus year period as George Latimer (Adolphe Menjou) sees his daughter (Bonita Granville) want to play music herself and she gets her chance when she meets a young man (Jackie Cooper) who wants to put a band together. This film starts off on a very weird note with the strangest credits I've ever seen. We get a quick glimpse of slaves being taken from Africa to America and then we get the credits, which simply introduce the "people in front of the camera" and then we see another group of names followed by "people behind the camera." Why they decided to do this I'm not certain but it was quite strange. SYNCOPATION offers up quite a bit of good including the music, which features Jack Jenney, Joe Venuti, Harry James, Benny Goodman and Charlie Barnet among others. The soundtrack to the film features some popular tunes and these here certainly help keep the viewer interested in everything that is going on. Another plus are the three lead performances, which are all pretty good. I thought Granville and Cooper had some nice chemistry together and even though it's obviously not them playing the instruments, I thought both of them sold it quite well. The biggest problem with this film is that it tries to hard to tell people that Jazz isn't evil. I thought the film was a bit too preachy about it at times and at other times it's almost like the filmmakers are trying to beat the viewer over the head. Another problem is that the story of this couple going through various eras of music just never really works as it just feels forced and there's not much holding it together. The film certainly means well and it's portrait of blacks is certainly a lot more positive than the majority of films from this period.

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