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Way down South they gave a jubilee
Them country folks they had a jamboree
They're drinkin' home, brew from a wooden cup
The folks dancin' got all shook up
--Chuck Berry, "Rock 'n' Roll Music"

The late 1950s saw a number of low-budget Rock and Roll films that used flimsy plots to showcase popular performers for the teen and drive-in audiences. Jamboree may be the most noteworthy.

The story concerns up-and-coming stars Pete (Paul Carr) and Honey (Freda Holloway-- dubbed by Connie Francis) and their manipulative managers. As they make bank, break up, mope, and reunite, we encounter a suburb's worth of musical stars introduced by as many noted disc jockeys.

It features better editing and production than the Alan Freed rock and roll movies-- but that's faint praise. We get actual production numbers for many of the acts, some of them featuring choreographed dancers. The music has been integrated somewhat plausibly, as recording sessions in the studio where our protagonists press their wax, and fellow performers in various venues. Dick Clark, whose American Bandstand had just gone national, hosts a telethon. Jerry Lee Lewis belts out "Great Balls of Fire." Thirteen-year-old Frankie Lymon makes a big-screen appearance. Paul Anka turns up, pre-superstardom. Fats Domino, Carl Perkins, and Buddy Knox rock the joint. And it's not only rock 'n' roll. Pete and Honey sing soft '50s pop, accompanied by strings. Jazz legend Count Basie contributes two numbers, one featuring Joe Williams. Slim Whitman does straight-up country. Brazil's Cauby Peixoto croons. Neal Hefti, of Batman theme fame, supplies the incidental music. Don't worry, say, over how an unplanned reunion can feature a new song for which the band miraculously has arrangements. Acting and plot aren't the point. Jamboree retains appeal as a time capsule of American pop, circa 1957.


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