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Edgar G. Ulmer
Moon Over Harlem marks Edgar G. Ulmer's rare foray into "race movies"
From director Edgar G. Ulmer came this, his rare foray in "race movies", Moon Over Harlem. The story, about a rich widow who unknowingly marries a gangster to the consternation of her daughter, is the kind that already seemed old hat in 1939, though Ulmer does the best he could under the circumstances with the low budget and a short schedule of only four days. The best one could say about the results is that the dialogue does keep flowing and the score mostly keeps playing. Too bad someone didn't try to keep the movie preserved enough to maybe clean up some of the wear on both the soundtrack and print. All that said, the performances of Buddy Harris as mob boss Dollar Bill, Cora Green as new wife Minnie, Izinetta Wilcox as daughter Sue who also provides a nice singing voice, and Earl Gough as Sue's crusading boyfriend Bob are pretty good despite their limited rehearsal time. And it's nice to see jazz legends like Christopher Columbus and New Orleans native Sidney Bechet perform here during the wedding reception. I was also slightly amused by Freddie Robinson as Half-Pint. Also, if I didn't read the cast list here on IMDb, I wouldn't have recognized Jacksonville, FL, native Mercedes Gilbert, who I previously saw in Oscar Micheaux's Body and Soul, in this movie. In summation, Moon Over Harlem is uneven as drama but should be interesting enough for anyone curious about these old movies made for a certain segment of the United States who were being treated as second-class citizens at this time.
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