It started in the middle 1990's while i was interviewing old time dancers who had been in films during the 1930's and 40's. Always talking about the movies they were in, and trying to collect them all.
During one of these interviews the legendary Hal Takier described film clips he had not seen of, or heard of since the time of filming. One of these movies i discovered at the UCLA archive titled "Boogie Woogie" from 1945. However there was still a Film he simply described to me as being "Arabian" or "Middle eastern" themed, he said "a short film", and it was "during the war".
I searched endlessly as i went through all my resources, nothing ever came up. As the months rolled along I would see Hal and Marge and try and get more information hoping he'd recall more information.
I remember that i finally discovered the title, Maharaja from a book i got from Dwight Lapardis, on the Soundies Dist. of America (Short Films). that like others didn't mention any dancers at all, it just mentioned a band and a date filmed, So I added it my list of possibilities.
My Collection of shorts and specifically soundies at this point was already pretty large, and i religiously scanned my 16mm Film collectors subscriptions. Some dealers only sold shorts and sometimes "lots of unknown" soundies, which is how i discovered Chool Song with Dean Collins. But still no Maharaja...
I finally came in to contact with the film collector Mark Cantor and in our first exchange, i asked him about these titles, and he quickly remarked that "Maharaja" from 1943 had dancers in it, he knew this right away because it was one of his favorite soundies, and actually inside the Panaram Machine in his house. Mark was excited to hear Hal was still alive, and really looked forward to interviewing him.
It was such a great moment for Hal and Marge to show the film on the screen at Bobby Mcgees for the first time, For everyone to see it in front of Hal, sitting there with his classic smiling grin…
Since then, we have seen Maharaja, Hal and Betty influence dancers and scenes around the world. Dancers have recreated it on stage, and Teachers have have taken steps, tricks, and the style. Everyone has their reasons, but the impact Hal and Betty have is undeniable today.
Thanks to the generosity of Mark Cantor, who was willing to share Maharaja from his collection, reuniting it to its dancers…
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
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