|Index||4 reviews in total|
This story about the life of Bill "Bojangles" Robinson begins in 1916, when
after his performance he meets the young pharmacology student who he
eventually marries. She was about 20, he was in his early 40s. The film ends
about 30 years later, with what looks like original footage of his funeral
procession in NYC. To 99% of the people "Bo" was a great and generous
person and entertainer. To the other 1% who knew him intimately, he was
apparently a real S.O.B.
A compulsive gambler and womanizer, his life was pretty close to a happy trainwreck. Dancing professionally until past the age of 65, he suffered with heart problems and died at age 71. During his prime he was the highest-paid black performer, and he was the black dancer in some of the early Shirley Temple movies.
The film is based on his biography, co-produced by star Gregory Hines, so I assume it is an accurate protrayal. In general I like fact-based films best, and I really like this one. I rate it "8" of 10. I also am a big fan of great dancing, and this film has that. I consider Hines not only a superb actor, but also one of the best modern dancers, and his portrayal of "Bojangles" seems so perfect. However, the real highlight for me is 1 hour 16 minutes into the film, when the newcomer kid, played by Savion Glover, does a routine that dazzles Bojangles, then they do a routine together in the dingy nightclub. The whole scene with all the tapping only lasts about 3 minutes, but it is a remarkable 3 minutes.
The DVD is very simple, no access to a menu, no digital sound, no extras. It is a Showtime movie.
At the height of his career, Bill "Bojangles" Robinson was
highest paid Black entertainer. He died penniless. Bojangles
considered the best dancer alive and his specialty was tap. He started
the black-face productions and shocked people when he worked as a solo
He was a headliner in Canada which didn't have the same issues with
as America. He starred on Broadway and then began making
predominately appearing as the Butler to a white star, usually
Temple. Bojangles was known as "The Man with the Smile" since
broad smile never left his face while he was dancing. Unfortunately
Showtime movie shows the pain and anger behind the smile. The pain
caused a young boy to assume the name of his brother in an attempt to
from their grandparent, the pain that caused a string of broken
and the pain that caused an incessant urge to gamble away his life
Gregory Hines portrays Bojangles. Hines is one of the premier
dancers alive. Hines is an incredibly expressive actor without saying
word. His eyes can speak volumes of what is going through his soul and
percussive music from his taps tells a story all of their own.
The movie does drag at times and Bojangles isn't the easiest of characters to like. However the movie is more than worth renting just to watch all of Hines' tap sequences. The man is an incredible dancer. His heir apparent, Savion Glover, appears in one sequence that is truly phenomenal to watch.
"Bojangles" tells the story of legendary hoofer Bill Robinson who tapped his way to stardom and success as America's highest paid black entertainer only to die penniless. Hines brings charisma, charm, and lots of great tappin' to the title role in this polished and sanitized biography. A fun watch especially for those who love tappin'.
The grand daddy of all the folks who make beautiful clicking noises
with their feet is portrayed here by Gregory Hines in the TV film
Bojangles. As Fred Astaire said in Swing Time "ask anyone up Harlem
way, who that guy Bojangles is. Astaire knew what he sung about because
Bill Robinson was both a friend and dancing rival.
But Astaire got to play all kinds of sophisticated parts in films and dance with Ginger Rogers. Bill Robinson was reduced to playing butlers, doormen, and house servants of all kinds and his most famous dancing partner was Shirley Temple. He yearned to play wider range parts and in the end in his last film Stormy Weather he and newcomer Lena Horne made some beautiful music together.
When Bill Robinson in show business touring the tank towns, Jim Crow segregation was being enshrined into law by the Supreme Court with Plessy vs. Ferguson in 1896. What was unofficial before was legal now and Robinson like his contemporary Bert Williams endured the inferior eating establishments and accommodations to work his trade before mostly white people in the audience. He also had to put up with the ludicrous idea of performing in black face. He was made up as surely as Al Jolson was for Dockstadters Minstrels.
Somethings like a vaudeville partner and a first wife are eliminated from this story. Robinson did work a double dancing act and was married briefly before the character of his wife (second) was introduced. Kimberly Elise plays the character. She was a beautiful and serious minded woman who never got total control of her husband's vices which included gambling and a too generous nature.
Peter Riegert plays his manager and Maria Ricossa plays Riegert's wife who was a vaudeville performer who put them together. There is also a marvelous bit by Jonathan Higgins as Darryl Zanuck, something I assure you would never be done while Zanuck was alive.
The marvelous dancing and three dimensional acting of Gregory Hines is the real reason though to see and wonder at the dancing marvel that was Bojangles.
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