Vintage Black Cinema
Issue Date: July 16, 2008
City: Newark, NJ
In 1945, Louis Jordan and his band, the Tympany Five, produced an 18-minute short film, also known as a “soundie,” called “Caldonia.” In the short film, Felix Paradise tempts Jordan to move to New York with false promises that he will have a great movie career. Blinded by Paradise’s false offers, Jordan loses his Hollywood contract as well as his girlfriend, Caldonia.
Directed by William Forest Crouch, “Caldonia” was Jordan’s most popular film short. In addition to “Caldonia,” the three other songs featured in the short are “Buzz Me,” “Honey Chile,” and “Tillie.” The film’s overwhelming popularity won it numerous bookings across the country as the opening film before the main feature. In theaters across the country, many audiences were drawn to theaters to see “Caldonia,” rather than the main attraction.
“Caldonia’s” success gave Jordan’s film career an enormous boost, leading to a number of cinematic roles. Louis Jordan’s work in “Caldonia” and other songs at the time gave him the nickname, “The King of the Jukebox.” Ranked fifth on Billboard Magazine’s all-time most successful black recording artists, Jordan has been credited as one of the early founders of rock and roll music. Louis Caldonia was honored on a 2008 U.S. postage stamp in a set of five stamps celebrating Vintage Black Cinema.