Louis Prima: The Wildest! (2000), 82 min.
Jazz trumpeter and consummate showman Louis Prima came to epitomize the night club and lounge scene of the 1950s and 1960s while reaching American homes through television appearances and recordings. His successful act juxtaposed Prima’s exuberant performances with the deadpan shtick of his wife singer Keely Smith. His Italian-American numbers Felicia No Capicia and Bacciagaloop (Makes Love on the Stoop), among others brought a playful sense of ethnicity to a national audience. The film Louis Prima: The Wildest! documents Prima’s Sicilian upbringing in New Orleans where he absorbed the styles of Louis Armstrong and King Oliver to his Las Vegas shows to his performance as King Louis in Disney’s 1967 animated adaptation of The Jungle Book. Archival footage and interviews with Keeley Smith, saxophonist Sam Butera, author Nick Tosches, among others, reveals an influential yet underrated musical talent.