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Broken Strings (1940)

Approved  |   |  Drama, Music  |  7 August 2003 (Switzerland)
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Ratings: 6.2/10 from 49 users  
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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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Title: Broken Strings (1940)

Broken Strings (1940) on IMDb 6.2/10

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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 Movies of Color: Black Southern Cinema (2002) 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

The world needs to see this film!
7 April 2006 | by (Michigan) – See all my reviews

This is by far the one of the top best of Black Cinema films. This truly was an excellent cast who had experience in acting and it shows. The cast weren't people picked up off the street like some in Black Cinema but trained actors and actresses. For an almost 60 minute movie, it's very fulfilling, fast pace but understandable. Clarence Muse, one of the great Black actors who don't entirely get the recognition he deserves gets one of his few opportunities to star in a movie and show his talent, most of his work were as stereotypes in Hollywood movies. Clarence plays a great violinist who loses the use of his hand but through his son, who has the same talent, he tries to live through and wants him only to play classical music, no swing or jazz, he's almost violently opposed to him playing swing but realizes soon after much convincing that all music is beautiful when he gains the use of his hand again. Sybil Lewis is the leading lady who would remind you of a Rosalind Russell, is a wonderful black actress who we don't hear about and many don't know her but in every role she's a natural, she plays the daughter of Clarence Muse character. Tomiwitta Moore is another wonderful, lovely black actress who's very charming in her role, she plays a young teen girl when she was really in her early 20's but because she was so petite, young looking and had a girlish voice she could play young girls or adult women. Tomiwitta and Sybil had better chances to be actresses, create their own images in Black Cinema, they had more control, they didn't have to be stereotypes and play monotonous roles like the black actresses in Hollywood. These ladies should be remembered more but because they didn't cross over their over looked yet they contributed to cinema and open doors by proving Blacks could be successful on their own making their own films showing if you want things done right do it yourself because you can't expect others to represent you rightfully and that's what ones in Black Cinema proved. Edward Thompson is wonderful as the trouble-making son of the boss who makes trouble when he can't have his way with Sybil Lewis character and tries to sabotages her boyfriend played by classy Pete Webster who all work at the same place. William Washington is wonderful as the young son who is a talented violinist who wants to prove to his father that swing can be beautiful music too but he has to suffer for it. Darby Jones is so entertaining and charming. You'll love his snake hips dance. The cute, talented Stevens Sisters are quite an eyeful, what ever happen to talent like that? Ruby Dandridge, Dorothy Dandridge mother is in this film and has a few scenes of comedy, you sure can tell that's Dorothy's mother. Stymie Beard, as we all know from the Little Rascals is great as the sneaky, conniving stool pigeon who tries to sabotage William Washington because he's better as a violinist. Also, Clarence Brooks and Jess Lee Brooks has small parts in the film, it's always good to see them. Elliott Carpenter illustrates how any form of music is beautiful. I love it when he says, "Blacks are the most musical people because they have suffered and know how to express music more soulfully and heartfully." Music can talk without saying a word.

This truly is a great film, I'm sure if it was a white cast it would be known and shown more. I also like this film because it shows a different side of Blacks that Hollywood wouldn't dare show. In this movie Blacks are who they really are, their elegant, classy, well-dressed, well-spoken in this movie. I love to watch these films to see Blacks in the nightclubs enjoying each other's company and presence, having a good time, showing they weren't always down and sad people. Black filmmakers today should check out Black cinema films such as this one, these movies give better portrayals of Blacks then today's films and the black movie stars today are able to be stars but selling out to be one, they aren't anything like Blacks in these types of movies.

I love the part where Clarence Muse says basically he's happy to be playing for his people because he and they share a kinship, a bond, and basically he hopes to be a credit to his race and history. Basically, he doesn't need whites approval or validation to feel like somebody like most black stars feel the need to cross over to whites, win so-called white awards to feel like somebody but this character feels otherwise and you hardly ever hear Blacks speak like that. That's the problem with today's generation if they used their talent to try to be a credit and good role model for their race and open doors they wouldn't be thinking about degrading themselves or their race they would want to use the talent they inherit from their culture for good.

This film also shows that Blacks were capable of playing roles and stories of people from all walks of life. Just because your Black doesn't mean the only stories you can act in has to be black-oriented. This is a black cast but color and race is not even a topic, just blacks being human beings and only through these Black cinema films were they able to be this way, even today, Blacks rarely get a chance to be human beings and play colorless parts. You'll enjoy this film with your family because it's timeless. Movies aren't made like this anymore. I wish this movie could be shown more, like on Turner Classic Movies, instead of ones just happening to find it.

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