This documentary presents clips from black films from 1929 through 1957. Musical performers include Paul Robeson (in Song of Freedom), Bessie Smith (St. Louis Blues), Eubie Blake and the ...
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This documentary presents clips from black films from 1929 through 1957. Musical performers include Paul Robeson (in Song of Freedom), Bessie Smith (St. Louis Blues), Eubie Blake and the Nicholas Brothers (Pie-Pie Blackbird), Lena Horne (Boogie Woogie Dream), Nat 'King' Cole (Killer Diller), Sammy Davis Jr. (Rufus Jones for President), Cab Calloway (Jitterbug Party), and Ethel Waters (Carib Gold). Dramatic excerpts include Murder in Harlem (1935), Juke Joint (1947), and Souls of Sin (1949). Also included are clips from white films stereotyping blacks, including Griffith's Birth of a Nation, and a blackfaced Bing Crosby in Crooner's Holiday (1934). Written by
Made in 1990 THATS BLACK ENTERTAINMENT is definitely an exciting homage to the extraordinary talent from black musicals of the 30s 40s 50s. There is a lot to enjoy here of you are not familiar with the musical performers or the time frame. It shows many clips from unseen or unknown films/shorts but many are annoyingly too short or foolishly cropped top and bottom to make a rectangle 'widescreen' image, hence cutting the feet from dancing performers while the narrator tells us what great dancers they were... the Bill Robinson scenes in particularly fall victim to this silly edit practice. If you have seen the Hollywood docos THATS ENTERTAINMENT and THATS DANCING, then you will be familiar that this film follows the same format... but it is the astonishing roster of musical talent and the awesome clips that make this film a winner. I particularly liked the fact it introduced a hip hop segment right at the start of the genre with HOUSE PARTY. Reginald Hudlin, Nelson George and particularly Russell Simmons are particularly appealing whereas Spike Lee here, seems actually boring. And a clip from 1986 shows why the world adopted LL COOL J: one of the most likable and enduring hip hop artist of all. In the first five minutes there is a dynamite Sammy Davis Jr tap routine with his uncle and cousin as the Will Masters Trio that will hook you in for the next hour or so. This s a terrific musical documentary. It even has the unforgettable Nicholas Brothers 'stair' number from STORMY WEATHER, priceless in any film and an outrageous omission from the mainstream dance docos made for white auds in the 70s and 80s. The Cinemascope 50s clips of Eartha Kitt and Dorothy Dandridge are equally exciting and memorable.
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