Sometimes, there can be nothing more pleasing than selecting and playing a dusty old record from a jukebox. These coin-operated machines arrived in the United States around the 1940s, where they got their nickname ‘jukebox’ from the Gullah word ‘Juke’ or ‘Joog’ – meaning rowdy & disorderly. In most jukeboxes ‘song-popularity counters’ were embedded within, meaning owners could get an idea of which songs were making the most money on the jukebox.
Jukeboxes have made it onto our screens in a variety of different shows and films. These mechanical marvels provide a certain comforting aesthetic, taking the audience to a certain time and place instantly. Here are a few examples of different jukeboxes in the media.
Arthur Fonzarelli, or as many know him ‘The Fonz’, was infamous for his methods of getting the Jukebox in ‘Arnolds’ restaurant to get going. With a simple kick or fist pump to fire up the Jukebox, the Fonz reiterated that he was the King of cool. In this clip, the audience sees Al on the phone to Fonzie in effort to try and get the jukebox to work.
The Girl Can’t Help it
‘The girl can’t help it’ a feature film in the form of a musical comedy from 1956, satirising the music industry – especially the jukebox business. Featuring stars from the golden era such as Tom Ewell, Jaynes Mansfield and Julie London, the film seems to glow with the hues emitting from the multiple jukeboxes featured in it.
Natural Born Killers
Natural Born Killers features one of the most notorious opening scenes there ever has been. Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis get riled up in a backward eatery in America, taking the diner-dwellers by surprise. The three minute scene is surreal, violent and tense – the jukebox adds a certain romantically nostalgic element to the scene; simply adding to the general bizarre nature of it.
Shaun of the Dead
Shaun of the dead is an English cult ZomRomCom which took the nation by storm. In the film, Shaun and the gang find themselves in their local pub, ‘the Winchester’, cornered by a hoard of oncoming zombies. On barricading the doors and windows with pub furniture, a member of the group tries to cut the lights by playing with the fusebox but accidentally triggers the jukebox; cuing ‘Don’t stop me now’ by Queen. The jukebox fits in perfectly within the mise-en-scene of the dusty local; truly reminiscent of our favourite ‘down-the-road’ pub where pork scratchings, pints of ale and knackered gambling machines all hold their place.
‘Looks like there’s gonna be a brawl, you gonna play something good?!’
‘Hell yeah! Rolling Stones, Street Fighting Man – G SEEEVVOOOUUN’
‘….You just hit G eight’
*Cue Pina Colada Song*
Dirty Work is a film from the late nineties, where two guys to make fifty thousand dollars quickly. Since Mitch and Sam cannot hold down a job, they start up their ‘revenge for hire’ business; becoming their own bosses. In this comedic scene, American comedian Chris Farley tries to pick the right song for the fight in true Jukebox coolness, however it quickly backfires on him when he realises he has picked the wrong tune by accident.
Jukeboxes will always have a place on the screen. Reminiscent of a time past; jukeboxes are viewed through rose tinted glasses in a veil of nostalgic romance, coated in a layer of quirkiness.
This list was put together with in partnership with Home Leisure Direct.