Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Shortly before his death, comedian Fred Allen supplied the dry-witted narration for the Project 20 hour-long documentary special The Jazz Age. Inasmuch as the special aired posthumously, it can be regarded as a fitting epitaph for the talented Allen. Spanning the period from the 1919 Treaty of Versailles to the 1929 stock market crash, the special utilizes documentary footage and clips from dramatic films to recreate the era of "wonderful nonsense." The viewer is offered a kaleidoscope of landmark events, fads, foibles, and celebrities: the passage of the 18th Amendment, which led to Prohibition, speakeasies, and the rise of the gangster culture; the hero worship bestowed upon baseball legend Babe Ruth and "lone eagle" aviator Charles Lindbergh; public "crazes" like mahjongg and the Charleston; the "return to Normalcy" expounded by President Warren Harding and the "Business of America is Business" philosophy of his successor Calvin Coolidge; and on less frivolous note, the ascendance of the Ku Klux Klan and the disastrous aftereffects of the Florida Land Boom. Throughout the film, the songs of the 1920s are vividly recreated by Robert Russell Bennett, the man who previously orchestrated the music of Richard Rodgers on the classic TV series Victory at Sea. Rebroadcast several times throughout the 1950s and '60s, The Jazz Age remained in circulation on cable TV well into the 1990s.
fad, jazz, KKK (Ku Klux Klan), organized-crime, Prohibition, speakeasy, stock-market-crash