×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Johnny & Jones, Two Boys and an Opera

Like Germany's Comedian Harmonists, Dutch duo Johnny & Jones were a musical novelty act that delighted audiences with their antic take on American jazz. They also shared the Harmonists'fate, popularity not being a safeguard against Nazi persecution of Jews. Hans Hylkema's hourlong docu retraces the path of Johnny & Jones.

Like Germany’s Comedian Harmonists, Dutch duo Johnny & Jones were a musical novelty act that delighted audiences with their antic take on American jazz and swing. They also shared the Harmonists’fate, popularity not being a safeguard against Nazi persecution of Jews. Hans Hylkema’s hourlong docu retraces the path of Johnny & Jones as well as limited archival materials will allow, while also chronicling creation of an opera on the duo by composer Theo Lovendie and librettist Carel Alphenaar. The pair’s story is by far the most compelling part of the docu, but the whole still makes for a solid fest and broadcast item.

Max Kannewasser and Nol van Wesel began performing humorous original songs a la Cab Calloway at the department store where they both worked. As pros, they toured Europe, recording for Decca, etc. Those discs suggest a funny, lively act — sadly, no performance footage survives. The mystery is why the duo was granted one last Amsterdam recording studio session in late August ’44, just before their deaths. (One witness claims both were then left outside to freeze overnight, with other gravely ill Bergen-Belsen inmates.) Package is well-turned.

Johnny & Jones, Two Boys and an Opera

Netherlands

  • Production: An Interakt and Volta Film production. Produced by Rene Mendel. Executive producer, Barbara Wiessing. Directed by Hans Hylkema.
  • Crew: Camera (color/B&W, Beta SP), Peter Mariouw Smit; editor, Mario Steenburgen; music, Johnny & Jones, Theo Lovendie. Reviewed at Roxie Cinema, July 1, 2003. (In San Francisco Jewish Film Festival.) Running time: 60 MIN.
  • With:
  • Music By: