Broken Strings (1940)

Approved  |   |  Drama, Music  |  7 August 2003 (Switzerland)
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After noted violinist Arthur Williams suffers a hand injury which ends his playing career, his hopes are transferred to his son, who prefers swing music to classical.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Sybil Lewis ...
William Washington ...
John 'Johnny' Williams
Tommie Moore ...
Mary (as Tommiwitta Moore)
Matthew 'Stymie' Beard ...
Dickey Morley (as Stymie Beard)
Pete Webster ...
Gus Herbert
Edward Thompson ...
Sam Stilton
Buck Woods ...
Fred Stilton
Darby Jones ...
Stringbeans Johnson
Jess Lee Brooks ...
Dr. Charles Matson
Earle Morris ...
Earl Wells (as Earl Morris)
Elliot Carpenter ...
Musician (as Alec Carpenter)
Charmaine Stevens ...
Chramaine Stevens
Cecile Stevens ...
Herself (The Stevens Sisters)
Leonetti Stevens ...
Herself (The Stevens Sisters)


Arthur Williams is a well-known violinist but he has an accident that injures his left-hand fingers and he can no longer play. Being a devotee of the classics, swing music grates his ears. His son, William, also has the soul of a true artist, and while he does well on classical music, his heart is into swing. Needing money, William, enters a contest in which he plans on playing classical music, but his violin has been tampered with by another contestant and when two of his violin strings break, he is forced to play swing. Written by Les Adams <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Music


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Release Date:

7 August 2003 (Switzerland)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Arthur Williams: My heart still belongs to the Masters, but look what swing has done for me!
See more »


Featured in Black Shadows on the Silver Screen (1975) See more »


Kentucky Babe
Music by Adam Geibel
Lyrics by Richard Buck
Danced to and sung by The Stevens Sisters
See more »

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User Reviews

Effective Race Film
26 February 2008 | by (Louisville, KY) – See all my reviews

Broken Strings (1940)

*** (out of 4)

This is without a doubt the best of the early black cinema films I've seen. Clarence Muse plays a classical violinist who loses movement in his hand after suffering an accident. Unable to perform, he picks up teaching students as well as his son but soon he begins to have a mental breakdown. Things aren't getting any better when he realizes his son doesn't want to play classical music but instead the son finds a liking to swing/jazz. Unlike some of of the other black cinema films I've watched this year, this one here features a wonderful group of talented folks so there's none of the bad acting that I've seen in previous films. Some will recognize Muse from films such as White Zombie, The Lost Weekend, Double Indemnity and Car Wash but none of them really gave him the chance to act. He does a very good job in his role here, although there are a few times where he goes a bit too over the top. Our Gang member Matthew "Stymie" Beard also appears as one of the students. The film tacks on an incredibly silly ending but the 60-minutes fly by with some nice laughs and some nice drama.

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