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St. Louis Blues (1929)

 -  Short | Drama | Music  -  8 September 1929 (USA)
6.5
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Ratings: 6.5/10 from 176 users  
Reviews: 5 user | 1 critic

In this all-black cast short, legendary blues singer Bessie Smith finds her gambler lover Jimmy messin' with a pretty, younger woman; he leaves and she sings the blues, with chorus and ... See full summary »

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Title: St. Louis Blues (1929)

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Cast

Cast overview:
Bessie Smith ...
Bessie - Battered Wife
Jimmy Mordecai ...
Jimmy the Pimp
Isabel Washington ...
Jimmy's Girlfriend
Hall Johnson Choir ...
Choir
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Storyline

In this all-black cast short, legendary blues singer Bessie Smith finds her gambler lover Jimmy messin' with a pretty, younger woman; he leaves and she sings the blues, with chorus and dancers. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

QUEEN OF THE BLUES (original poster-all caps)

Genres:

Short | Drama | Music

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Details

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Release Date:

8 September 1929 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The St. Louis Blues  »

Company Credits

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 »
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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

This short film starring Bessie Smith was built around the blues singer's song of the same title. It is the only footage of her in existence. See more »

Connections

Edited into Bessie Smith (1969) See more »

Soundtracks

Rhapsody in Blue
Written by George Gershwin (1924)
Excerpts played as part of the score
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User Reviews

Must-See Race Film
1 May 2011 | by (Louisville, KY) – See all my reviews

St. Louis Blues (1929)

*** 1/2 (out of 4)

This early race Musical is without question one of the strongest I've seen for a number of reasons. The plot is fairly simple as legend Bessie Smith walks into a gambling hall and catches her husband with a younger, prettier woman. She begs for him to come back with her but the husband knocks her to the ground and walks out, which causes Bessie to pour herself a drink and sing the title song. This film works on a number of levels but as a race movie I think it's perhaps the best I've seen from the 20s or 30s. We've seen a black gambling house in house white films made by white folks so it was very interesting seeing the difference here and I'm going to go out on a limb and say this here is a lot more authentic than what the major studios were showing. The film is also interesting because it shows how women were looked at during this era because we see Bessie get knocked down and kicked yet she begs for the man to keep her. Even before this happens Bessie storms into the room and beats the fire out of the other woman, which is certainly something that didn't show up in those MGM shorts. Finally, I've read that this is the only known video footage of Bessie Smith and man what a voice she had. Her singing the blues would make anyone a fan of the genre and she certainly gives it her all and delivers a strong vocal performance. Her acting ability wasn't the greatest but I thought she did OK with it. The film is extremely raw and authentic and part of this is probably due to the obvious low-budget. This film works on just about every level and is highly recommended.


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