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Swing! (1938)

 -  Musical | Drama
5.5
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Ratings: 5.5/10 from 68 users  
Reviews: 6 user | 1 critic

Ted Gregory is trying to be the first black producer to mount a show on Broadway, but he has trouble with his star singer.

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Title: Swing! (1938)

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Cora Green ...
Amanda 'Mandy' Jenkins
Larry Seymour ...
Cornell Jenkins
Hazel Diaz ...
Eloise Jackson / Cora Smith
Alec Lovejoy ...
Lem Jackson / Big Jones
Amanda Randolph ...
Liza Freeman (as Mandy Randolph)
Trixie Smith ...
Lucy
Carman Newsome ...
Ted Gregory
Nat Reed ...
Ted, Gregory's Assistant
Sammy Gardiner ...
Sammy, Gregory's Assistant
Dorothy Van Engle ...
Lena Powell
Doli Armena ...
Miss Watkins, a Trumpet Player
Columbus Jackson ...
A Hustler
George R. Taylor ...
Mr. Becker, Theatrical Backer
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Leon Gross
Consuelo Harris ...
(as Miss Harris)
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Storyline

When Mandy Jenkins catches her husband Cornell out on a date with Eloise Jackson in a small cabaret in Birmingham, Alabama, she and Jackson have a fight. Months later, Eloise is living in Harlem and about to star in a musical, produced and directed by Ted Gregory, who hopes to be the first black producer to put on a show on Broadway. Mandy, meanwhile, has also moved to Harlem, and is hired by Gregory as wardrobe mistress at the suggestion of his secretary, Lena, with whom Gregory has fallen in love. But Gregory has problems getting backing for the show, and is unhappy that Eloise often comes drunk and late to the rehearsals. And things look hopeless when Eloise breaks her leg falling down a stairway while in a drunken stupor. Written by Arthur Hausner <genart@volcano.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Musical | Drama

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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Connections

Featured in Movies of Color: Black Southern Cinema (2002) See more »

Soundtracks

Bei Mir Bist di Schön
Music by Sholom Secunda
English lyrics by Sammy Cahn and Saul Chaplin
Played by Leon Gross's orchestra and sung by Cora Green
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Fun to watch in some ways and historically important, but it's also a bad film
3 January 2009 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

SWING! is an important film because it's one of the remaining Black-produced and acted films from the 1930s. Many of these films have simply deteriorated so badly that they are unwatchable, but this one is in fairly good shape. It's also a nice chance to see many of the talented Black performers of the period just after the heyday of the old Cotton Club--a time all but forgotten today.

Unfortunately, while the film is historically important and has some lovely performances, it's also a mess. The main plot is very similar to the Hollywood musicals of the era--including a prima donna who is going to ruin the show and the surprise unknown who appears from no where to save the day. However, the writing is just god-awful and a bit trashy at times--and projects images of Black America that some might find a bit demeaning. This is because before the plot really gets going, you are treated to a no-account bum who lives off his hard working wife (a popular stereotype of the time) and when he is caught with a hussy (who, by the way, totally overplays this role), they have a fight which looks like a scene from WWE Smackdown! And, the one lady wants to cut the other lady with a straight razor--a trashy scene indeed! Later in the film, when the prima donna is behaving abominably, her husband punches her in the face and everyone applauds him! It seems like the film, at times, wants to appeal to the lowest common denominator in the audience PLUS they can't even do this well--with some of the worst acting I've seen in a very long time.

Still, if you can look past a lousy production in just about every way (with trashy characters, bad acting and direction and poor writing), this one might be worth a peek so you can see excellent singing and tap dancing--as well as to catch a glimpse of forgotten Black culture. Just don't say I didn't warn you about the acting--it's really, really bad!


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