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 ... See full summary »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
Blade
...
Singer
...
Bessie May
...
Elizabeth
Juano Hernandez ...
Rev. Charles Handy
Teddy Buckner ...
Musician
Barney Bigard ...
Musician
George 'Red' Callender ...
Musician
Lee Young ...
Musician
George Washington ...
Musician
...
Will Handy as a boy
...
Aunt Hagar
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Storyline

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 <grable@unity.ncsu.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The glitter and glory story of the man whose rhythm and blues beat became all America's heartbeat!

Genres:

Biography | Drama | Music

Certificate:

See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

7 April 1958 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Lamento Negro  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Although uncredited, conductor of the finale C. Bakaleinikoff is billed on the poster outside the concert hall. See more »

Goofs

Late in the movie, Gogo runs into Elizabeth and explains she was just passing through St. Louis. The Hanleys live in Memphis. See more »

Quotes

Aunt Hagar: Well, what is it?
[she looks at the paper]
Aunt Hagar: Nine hundred dollars!
W.C. Handy: [he reads the letter] For phonograph records of 'Careless Love'. Do you think this money's evil?
Aunt Hagar: What I think and what your Papa think are two different things. Your Papa thinks the only true riches are in Heaven.
W.C. Handy: It's nice to have a little pocket money while we're waiting to get there!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn (1997) See more »

Soundtracks

Steal Away To Jesus
(uncredited)
Traditional
Sung by Mahalia Jackson and chorus
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Very Moving
4 September 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

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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