Will Handy grows up in Memphis with his preacher father and his Aunt Hagar. His father intends for him to use his musical gifts only in church, but he can't stay away from the music of the ...
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Will Handy grows up in Memphis with his preacher father and his Aunt Hagar. His father intends for him to use his musical gifts only in church, but he can't stay away from the music of the streets and workers. After he writes a theme song for a local politician, Gogo, a speakeasy singer, convinces Will to be her accompanist. Will is estranged from his father for many years while he writes and publishes many blues songs. At last the family is reunited when Gogo brings them to New York to see Will's music played by a symphony orchestra. Written by
Lisa Grable <email@example.com>
Although uncredited, conductor of the finale C. Bakaleinikoff is billed on the poster outside the concert hall. See more »
Late in the movie, Gogo runs into Elizabeth and explains she was just passing through St. Louis. The Hanleys live in Memphis. See more »
Well, what is it?
[she looks at the paper]
Nine hundred dollars!
[he reads the letter]
For phonograph records of 'Careless Love'. Do you think this money's evil?
What I think and what your Papa think are two different things. Your Papa thinks the only true riches are in Heaven.
It's nice to have a little pocket money while we're waiting to get there!
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I found the father-son estrangement contrived along conventional religion vs the devil lines, but moving nonetheless. I had forgotten what a good piano player Nat Cole was. Ertha Kitt is the heart of the film. She acts as she sings -- biting, precise, and all-knowing. I think the great Pearl Bailey is wasted here -- wonderful as the Aunt, but we only hear her singing a snippet of the title song. Cab Calloway was also much more talented than permitted to be here. I saw him as "Sportin' Live" in the post-WW II revival of "Porgy and Bess." We get a too brief taste of the great clarinet player, Barney Bigard, and an anachronistic appearance by Ella Fitzgerald singing "Beale St. Blues." The film provides a good definition of the blues as an authentic American musical and poetic form. This one, almost 50 years old now, has aged well. It makes one regret that more African-American based and performed films were not made when these great stars were available. Thanks again, TCM!
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