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St. Louis Blues (1929)

 -  Short | Drama | Music  -  8 September 1929 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.5/10 from 174 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 overview:
Bessie Smith ...
Bessie - Battered Wife
Jimmy Mordecai ...
Jimmy the Pimp
Isabel Washington ...
Jimmy's Girlfriend
Hall Johnson Choir ...


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 <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


QUEEN OF THE BLUES (original poster-all caps)


Short | Drama | Music





Release Date:

8 September 1929 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The St. Louis Blues  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Photophone System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


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 »


Edited into Before Stonewall (1984) See more »


Rhapsody in Blue
Written by George Gershwin (1924)
Excerpts played as part of the score
See more »

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User Reviews

A historical gem.
14 July 2012 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

Bessie Smith is a legendary Black entertainer from the Harlem Renaissance. However, sadly, this is the ONLY known film in which she appeared. So, for historical reasons, this short if like gold. Now I am sure some might not agree--as the film shows Black people gambling and carousing and doing a lot of stereotypical behaviors. However, this was THE predominate view given in both Black and White-produced films of the time and you can't expect a lot of enlightenment back in 1929. It is a portrait of who we were as a nation at the time and who we wanted us to be--and I say just accept it as a little window into the times and way people thought. Plus, remember, this is still the only way to watch Smith deal with it!

"St. Louis Blues" gets its name from the famous W.C. Handy song of the same title. It consists of Smith arguing with her gambling and carousing boyfriend as well as Smith smacking the crap out of one of Jimmy's floozies! He slaps her around and mistreats her...yet she begs him not to leave. I KNOW this is very negative--a terrible message for women then and now. BUT, as I said, it is what it is. What follows is Smith singing her very famous tune "My Man"--and she sings it with a lot of soul and style. It also is an interesting short because it plays much less like a typical music video of the age but like a mini-movie. Smith was some talent and it's a great window into the times--warts and all.

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