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Yamekraw (1930)

 -  Short | Musical
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Ratings: 6.5/10 from 20 users  
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In a wordless story with semi-surreal stage sets, a poor black man ventures from his ramshackle rural home to the big city, where a dancing girl in a dive two-times him. He returns to his home and wife's arms.



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Credited cast:
Jimmy Mordecai


Through song and dance, the story of the the lives of the residents of Yamekraw, a rural primarily black and poor settlement on the outskirts of Savannah, Georgia, is told. The story focuses on a young couple in love, they who decide to get married. To support their new married life, the husband travels into the big city, where the temptations are many. The question becomes whether their marriage can survive both the separation and the temptations he faces while away. Written by Huggo

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Short | Musical





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Vitaphone release #1009. See more »

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Warner-Vitaphone meets the avant garde
29 March 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

When "Jammin' The Blues" was released by Warner Bros. in 1944, it was recognized as a breakthrough in visual razzle-dazzle, nominated for an Oscar, later singled out by Leonald Maltin in his THE GREAT MOVIE SHORTS, became a cult favorite among jazz film collectors and finally entered into the National Film Registry. Yet, as Warner starts unveiling its vast short subject collection gradually on DVD, including the Archive's 6-disc set of Melody Masters and Vitaphone Varieties (Warner Bros. Big Band, Jazz & Swing), a treasure-trove of nuggets are being rediscovered... some of which may be one-reel "Citizen Kanes" aching for critical attention.

On one level, this short subject "dates" poorly: scenes of happy-but-lazy "negro life" in a rural "shanty" cabin outside of Savannah, Georgia with watermelon eatin', cotton pickin' and rockin' with Mammy on the front porch.

On another level, the look of the film and the art direction are years ahead of its time. In a curious way, it invites comparison to avant garde experiments of the late twenties like "Life and Death of 9143: a Hollywood Extra". Many camera angles are slanted with people popping out of the corners of the screen. Silhouettes and funhouse mirrors are utilized to eye-popping effect. Stylized "palm" trees make the human actors appear as if they are coverting in a toy Plasticville, while the city dance hall segment could pass for a seventies discotheque. Even the train is carefully constructed as "surreal". It is possible that this film was Warner-Vitaphone's response to the artsy musical shorts that William Cameron Menzies was releasing through United Artists at this time.

According to Roy Liebman's VITAPHONE FILMS, the studio was sued for using the music without permission. With this in mind, one of the title cards listing James P. Johnson was probably a "reissue" edit.

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