The Jessie Matthews Homepage


JESSIE MATTHEWS CENTENARY RETROSPECTIVE





The Jessie Matthews Homepage was relaunched on 7th January 2007 to mark the start of Jessie's Centenary year, with many new interactive features including a scrapbook, film reviews, anecdotes, music, and theatre programmes. I was also kept busy writing articles for magazines e.g. "The Vellum" and writing to Radio Shows e.g. Elaine Paige's Essential Musicals


On the 5th February 2007 Living Era released a superb CD titled 'Over My Shoulder: Centenary Issue' comprising 24 tracks from Jessie's 78's, which featured many of her best known songs. The sound quality of all of the tracks are of a high quality and the selection is well chosen giving a taste of Jessie as a recording artist, as well as international stage and film star . The CD was released in the USA on 13th March 2007.


Track Listings 1. My Heart Stood Still 2. By The Fireside (In The Gloaming) 3. One More Kiss And Then Goodnight 4. I'll Stay With You 5. One Little Kiss From You 6. Three Wishes 7. Let Me Give My Happiness To You 8. Dancing On The Ceiling 9. When You've Got A Little Springtime In Your Heart 10. Tinkle Tinkle Tinkle/Over My Shoulder 11. Everything's In Rhythm With My Heart 12. I Can Wiggle My Ears 13. It's Love Again 14. Tony's In Town 15. I Nearly Let Love Go Slipping Through My Fingers 16. Got To Dance My Way To Heaven 17. Head Over Heels In Love 18. Looking Around Corners For You 19. May I Have The Next Romance With You 20. Lord And Lady Whoozis 21. Gangway 22. Souvenir Of Love 23. Whip Poor Will 24. Look For The Silver Lining




The NFT at London's South Bank, marked Jessie's centenary by screening 10 of Jessie's films starting on 1st March and finishing on 11th March 2007. In this season, the NFT screened " There Goes The Bride", " The Good Companions", " Friday the Thirteenth", "Evergreen", "First A Girl" "It's Love Again" "Sailing Along", "Tom Thumb" and "Jessie Matthews On TV". The latter comprised the BBC Documentary "Catch A Fallen Star", Jessie's music hall appearance on "The Good Old Days", her last and superb appearance in front of an audience on "Night of 100 Stars" as well as her last television appearance in the 'Tales of the Unexpected' series "A Picture Of A Place". At the end of the programme which was completely sold out, we were treated to a screening of the "This Is Your Life" Jessie Matthews which had Buddy Bradley and Anna Neagle among others paying wonderful tribute to Jessie.The most rare and anticipated screening in the season of films was Jessie's debut as Director in the 1944 film short "Victory Wedding" with Sir John Mills and Dulcie Gray. A lovely tale of a soldier returning home not knowing if his girlfriend still loved him, and redescovering the love and support of his family friends and community. This was shown with "Candles At Nine". The NFT Season was featured on the London News TV show with Richard Stirling (writer and producer of the hit Stage show "Over My Shoulder") giving an overview of Jessie's life and career.



BBC Radio 2 marked Jessie's 100th Birthday on Sunday 11th March 2007 on two of their shows. The first was a tribute from Elaine Paige, whereupon Elaine read out a dedication from me, played the "Tinkle Tinkle Tinkle / Over My Shoulder" medley and talked about the legend that is Jessie and the film from which the medley came "Evergreen". Later in the evening, Russell Davies paid tribute to Jessie's beauty and artistry, played the track "I nearly let Love Go Slipping Through My Fingers" and talked about the parallels between Jessie's and Judy Garland's lives.

Dave Aylott, Producer of Desmond Carrington's BBC Radio 2 show "The Music Goes Round" had hoped to feature Jessie Matthews on Desmond's "occasional Friday" series, especially as they knew each other but the BBC were unable to put a programme together in time.



The Robert Burns Film Theatre in Dumfries, Scotland, screened "Evergreen" and "It's Love Again" in tribute to Jessie, on Sunday 20th May. See Brian Matthews piece on the Letters Page.

On 2nd July 2007 a double-CD was released by AVID titled "Jessie Matthews: A Centenary Celebration". I believe it to be the most comprehensive Jessie compilation to date containing hits from Jessie's films, stage shows, and radio broadcasts including many previously unreleased and new to even veteran collectors. The tracks were remastered using the cedar process and most without hiss skips or jumps. Among the many rare items are two hits that Jessie originated on the London stage but never recorded commercially: Noel Coward's "A Room With A View" and Cole Porter's "Let's Do It". Jessie's co-star and husband Sonnie Hale is heard on two duets : "Hold My Hand" and "Turn On The Music". Jessie's first husband, Henry Lytton Jr, is heard on the duet "Silly Little Hill". Other tracks never before issued include songs from the stage show "Charlot's Review of 1926", and the rarely screened short film "Life Is Nothing Without Music". In addition to the collectors items are dozens of wonderful songs from Jessie's career including songs from the films "Evergreen", "First A Girl" "It's Love Again" "Head Over Heels" "Gangway" "Sailing Along" "The Good Companions" and "Out Of The Blue". The Double CD was plugged on the 'Wake up with Wogan' radio show (currently the most popular radio show in the UK), tracks played on the 'string of pearls' radio show and publicised in many UK and USA journals. Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber was also said to be thrilled with the CD.


There were a scurry of Jessie Matthews DVD releases. These included: 'Candles At Nine', 'Mr & Mrs Simpson', 'A Picture of A Place' and 'Waltzes From Vienna' ('Le Chant Du Danube') . The latter was beautifully restored by Universal Studios released (in France) in their Alfred Hitchcock Collection. The film is the full 82 minute uncut version with all of the music and songs intact. This stunning print with excellent digital sound can be seen in English or French Language versions, with or without subtitles.





Michael Thornton, author of Jessie's excellent 1974 biography, virtually completed writing his new book about Jessie. Unfortunately material that was vitally important to the book was subject to national archive restrictions and could not be released. However,in July, Michael wrote a piece about Jessie for The Daily Mail. The article notably included testimony from divorce evidence which was originally prohibited from the biography in 1974.

The BBC were planning to make a new television documentary about Jessie to coincide with the centenary, however this project was also put back for an indefinate period.

Last but not least coinciding with the Centenary, ITN released many previously unavailable news reels that feature Jessie on their website. Many of the Pathe news reels can be previewed for free on line. Please see our Jessie Matthews News Reel page for full details.





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