IMDb > St. Louis Blues (1929)
St. Louis Blues
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St. Louis Blues (1929) More at IMDbPro »


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6.5/10   200 votes »
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Dudley Murphy (writer)
View company contact information for St. Louis Blues on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
8 September 1929 (USA) See more »
QUEEN OF THE BLUES (original poster-all caps)
In this all-black cast short, legendary blues singer Bessie Smith finds her gambler lover Jimmy messin' with a pretty... See more » | Full synopsis »
1 win See more »
User Reviews:
A historical gem. See more (7 total) »


  (in credits order)
Bessie Smith ... Bessie - Battered Wife
Jimmy Mordecai ... Jimmy the Pimp
Isabel Washington ... Jimmy's Girlfriend
Hall Johnson Choir ... Choir
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Hall Johnson ... Choir Leader (uncredited)
James P. Johnson ... Piano Player (uncredited)
Alec Lovejoy ... Gambler (uncredited)
Thomas Morris ... Coronet Player (uncredited)

Directed by
Dudley Murphy 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Dudley Murphy  writer

Produced by
W.C. Handy .... co-producer
Cinematography by
Walter Strenge 
Film Editing by
Russell G. Shields  (as Russell Shields)
Production Management
Richard C. Currier .... production supervisor (as Dick Currier)
Sound Department
George Oschmann .... sound recordist
Music Department
W.C. Handy .... music arranger: choral arrangements
Rosamond Johnson .... music arranger: choral arrangements
Other crew
Alfred N. Sack .... presenter
Crew verified as complete

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
16 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.20 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (RCA Photophone System)

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 »
Movie Connections:
Edited into Bessie Smith (1969)See more »
St. Louis BluesSee more »


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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful.
A historical gem., 14 July 2012
Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida

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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