Bandleader Cab Calloway is tiring of his sexy girlfriend Minnie, who in turn is jealous of Cab's manager Nettie. When Nettie gets Cab a job at the Brass Hat Club, Minnie retaliates for his imagined infidelity by setting gangster Boss Mason, owner of a rival club, against him. Will she regret her action before it's too late? (This plot resolves halfway through the film; the rest is a series of 'soundies' featuring the Calloway band's inimitable jive). All-black cast. Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
When Cab takes the wounded Minnie back into his room, the furniture has changed position - the bed is now away from the wall and in the middle of the room, and the chair is in the corner of the room where the bed used to be. See more »
The plot races by in the first 40 minutes, and after that we get a series of musical numbers. That's pretty much the formula for all early musicals with the only variation being whether the musical extravaganza comes before, after or in the middle of the story. In this case it was at the end, and I actually enjoyed that format. It was as if the filmmakers were telling us, "OK now that the silly plot is out of the way, here's what you really came here for."
Call me crazy, though... I actually liked the plot! And it ended on a very profound & emotional note, where Cab sings "Minnie's a Hepcat Now" a capella.
The second half brings us the musical showcase with the only link to the rest of the film being the appearance of a strange man reading a Variety newspaper. He & his newspaper also appear in almost every other scene without explanation, almost like "find Waldo", lending a surreal comedic flavour to the picture.
The only real downside to this movie, the disturbing part which I mentioned in my title, is the way Cab & others repeatedly smack poor Minnie around. Sure, I realize it's just a movie, but since Cab Calloway plays himself, we can't help but wonder if he may have been violent toward his women in real life. I found myself distracted by that thought.
Otherwise, I thought this was a thoroughly enjoyable flick with some great performances. Also, somebody help me out here... even though this was a "race" film, I swear I saw a white man in Cab's trombone section at the end. If so, could this be one of the earliest instances of an integrated band? Or maybe my vision sucks. Keep your eyes peeled and you be the judge.
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