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A young songwriter leaves his Kentucky home to try to make it in New Orleans. Eventually he winds up in New York, where he sells his songs to a music publisher, but refuses to sell his most treasured composition: "Dixie." The film is based on the life of Daniel Decatur Emmett, who wrote the classic song "Dixie." Written by
"Lux Radio Theater" broadcast a 60 minute radio adaptation of the movie on December 20, 1943 with Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour reprising their film roles. See more »
The movie changes all sorts of historical facts: The movie makes Emmett a bachelor wooing "Jean Mason" who is confined to a wheelchair. The song Dixie was intended as a sort of dirge but is given a sprightly tempo only because the theater, in the deep south, has caught fire. In fact Emmett married Catherine Rives circa 1853 and remained married until her death in 1875, there is no indication that she was disabled. Dixie was first sung, and at its familiar tempo, in NYC on April 4, 1859, in a non-burning music hall. The movie has only the first verse sung over and over again because, frankly, the second and third verses are a bit "unenlightened" by modern standards. A couple of years later Emmett was appalled that the Confederacy had appropriated his song and he promptly wrote several songs for the Union Army. See more »
Dixie Historical Film Review A popular musical stage show of the early and mid 19th Century was minstrelsy. Minstrel shows a variety of comical skits in which both black as well as white people painted their faces black. The film Dixie, directed by A. Edward Sutherland was a story about the intertwining characters and their production of a Minstrel show, Though Minstrel shows content embodied racial hatred they were the first form of musical theatre that was American-born and bred. It was embraced by all colors despite its ignorant and obnoxious slander of African Americans.
Minstrelsy had an initial structure normally broken into a three act performance. A dance sequence was first on stage. Singing songs and preparing the audience for the second part which included a coordinate speech said by "Mr. Interlocutor". This pun-filled speech in Dixie was said by Mr. Cook, played by Raymond Walburn, while he was in the center of the stage. The final act in the show was a song almost like one slaves would sing while working at the plantation.
In the film the characters refer to African Americans as "darkies". To accomplish "blackface" performers would burned corks and painted their face black with the soot, and then extenuated their lips with red paint, with the objective to appear as black as possible. Minstrelsy typical distastefully portrayed African Americans as lazy and moronic people gallivanting around.
Though enjoyed by audiences of all colors minstrelsy began to lose popularity with the gain of social rights against racism. In the 1930's it was considered suitable portrayal of black America by White America, with blind bigotry. The film Dixie did not have African American's performing in the Minstrel show they were all white. But during this era that was acceptable and considered comic relief.
Despite the slander against African Americans culture and characteristics all races enjoyed the comedy of the Minstrel show. But the fact that audiences at that time did not speak up sooner concerning the physical appearance of the blackface actors and overall enacting of blacks, leaves one with a strong impression, truly displaying the horribly rude comments and acts going on in our society. However Dixie correctly followed the structure of minstrelsy and had an interesting plot, forcing the audience to quickly forget how inconsiderately racist the movie actually is. This helps us ultimately realize the awareness of whites view on black culture.
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