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Black and Tan (1929)

 -  Drama | Short | Music  -  8 December 1929 (USA)
6.3
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Ratings: 6.3/10 from 232 users  
Reviews: 9 user | 4 critic

Duke Ellington in a jazz musical short with a tragic plotline.

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Title: Black and Tan (1929)

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Duke Ellington Orchestra ...
Cotton Club Orchestra (as The Cotton Club Orchestra)
Fredi Washington ...
Fredi - Duke's Girlfriend
Hall Johnson Choir ...
Choir
Edgar Connor ...
Piano Mover
Alec Lovejoy ...
Piano Mover
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Storyline

Duke Ellington plays hot jazz in a fictional story that finds him down on his luck; he tries in vain to dissuade his friend, dancer Fredi Washington, from working with heart trouble even though it means work for his band. Sure enough, she collapses on stage... Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Short | Music

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Details

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Release Date:

8 December 1929 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Photophone System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

An advertising poster for this film is pictured on one stamp of a set of five 42¢ USA commemorative postage stamps honoring Vintage Black Cinema, issued 16 July 2008. Other films honored in this set are The Sport of the Gods (1921), Princesse Tam-Tam (1935), Caldonia (1945), and Hallelujah (1929). See more »

Connections

Featured in Black Shadows on the Silver Screen (1975) See more »

Soundtracks

The Duke Steps Out
Written by Duke Ellington
Played by Duke Ellington and the Duke Ellington Orchestra (as The Cotton Club Orchestra)
See more »

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User Reviews

Duke's First
1 May 2011 | by (Louisville, KY) – See all my reviews

Black And Tan Fantasy (1929)

** (out of 4)

This early Paramount talkie is best remembered today for being the film debut of Duke Ellington but it's also one of the strangest shorts I've seen from this period. Ellington and his partner is in his hotel room practicing for their big gig when a couple movers come into repossess the piano. Ellington's girlfriend Fredi Washington then enters the room of bribes the movers with a bottle of alcohol and then we go to the Cotton Club where Ellington and Washington perform their act. This isn't a good film but it's certainly worth viewing at least once for a few reasons. It's interesting to note that many of the supporting players, especially the movers, are negative stereotypes (dumb and drunk) but Ellington plays it straight. One wonders if he refused to act down for the material or if the studio was just smart enough to treat him with some respect. Another fascinating thing is some of the shots that happen throughout the picture. I liked some of the style like the first dance group who we get to see through their reflection on the floor. Another nice shot has Washington dancing on a glass floor and the camera is underneath and looking up to capture her. There's some more bizarre editing, which doesn't work as well but it's at least something different than we're use to seeing. I must admit that the ending somewhat took me by surprise and it's interesting to see it end the way it did. I certainly won't ruin anything but where this all comes from is somewhat of a mystery.


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