Black vaudeville acts are featured in this Vitaphone Pepper Pot short. In addition to those listed in the credits, acts include The 3 Whippets, a group of acrobats; and The Five Racketeers,... See full summary »
The Nicholas Brothers,
The 3 Whippets
George and Gracie enter an elegant drawing room, looking everywhere for something. Turns out, they're looking for the audience, and when George spots the camera, they start in on their ... See full summary »
Rose Marie, aged five or six, sings three numbers in the Vitaphone sound stage decorated as an elegant drawing room. "Heigh Ho, Everybody, Heigh Ho," "Who Wouldn't Be Jealous of You," and "... See full summary »
The curtain opens; behind it are two pianos where Charles Bourne and Phil Ellis, billed as the Music Boxes, are seated playing. After a few bars, Blossom Seeley and Bennie Fields enter - ... See full summary »
In Hell, Satan appears to tell us that rhythm is coming to life again, then we're taken to a sound stage where Jimmie Lunceford conducts his dance orchestra. He's in black tie and a tuxedo ... See full summary »
Jimmie Lunceford and His Orchestra,
The Three Brown Jacks
Returns from a party and states that he's still hungry. He eats the cigar he was smoking and then does some shimmying around the room. He then proceeds to light and eat his matches and then... See full summary »
An elderly barber shop owner wins a sweepstake and uses the winnings to elaborately remodel his run-down shop. For in-house entertainment he hires his musician friends as the jazz orchestra and the four shoeshiners are skilled tap dancers.
Claude Hopkins & Orchestra,
June Daily, daughter of stockbroker J. C. Daily, is engaged to father's assistant Richard Burton, but is enamored of tap-dancing elevator operator Hal Smith. J.C. has a hot tip on stock for... See full summary »
When a porter is hospitalized with a berth mark (putting his head in the wrong berth), the Benevolent Protective Society calls on the Black Knights of the Red Cap to do a show to raise money. A grand dress rehearsal in the high-ceilinged station starts at 4 a.m. An 11-piece band plays an up-tempo piece, followed by two tap dancing numbers: couples perform and give way to dancing red caps, then the men dance an even faster one with athleticism and acrobatics. A woman seated with her luggage sings the blues, followed by a male dancer who uses a jump rope, and a finale with a chorus line of maids in uniform and couples dancing. Board the Tropical Express and the Sunshine Limited. Written by
Redcap Attendant #1:
Brethren, it is up to the Black Knights of the Redcaps to give one of our benefit performances - there being only - four dollars left in the treasury.
Redcap Attendant #4:
There's twelve dollars and sixty-five cents!
Redcap Attendant #1:
There was twelve dollars and sixty-five, until I rolled that bum seven.
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Full of the things that made the Harlem Renaissance great.
This is a short film from Vitaphone. Oddly, while most of Hollywood had no place for blacks in films except to be servants or comic relief, Warner Brothers featured quite a few black acts in their Vitaphone shorts--thus allowing us to preserve this part of our history.
"Smash Your Baggage" is has an all-black cast and although the film has a few derogatory stereotypes (such as the porters using up their funds shooting dice), it has a positive message that can be enjoyed by all. Because they have no funds in their relief fund, the porters decide to put on a benefit the next day. What follows has very little plot but LOTS of make the film fun--crazy good dancing. First, there are two of the most amazingly athletic tap dancers you'll ever see. You just have to see them to believe them--and some of what they do looks almost like break dancing fused with tap. The guy who jumps rope and taps was also pretty amazing. About the only flat moment was the lady balladeer. This isn't entirely her fault--as there was an issue with the quality of the sound. The bottom line is that this film features some amazing stuff--so amazing you can understand why today there's such nostalgia for the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and 30s.
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