6.4/10
313
10 user 4 critic

Black and Tan (1929)

Not Rated | | Drama, Short, Music | 8 December 1929 (USA)
Duke Ellington in a jazz musical short with a tragic plotline.

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington Orchestra ...
Cotton Club Orchestra (as The Cotton Club Orchestra)
...
Fredi - Duke's Girlfriend
Hall Johnson Choir ...
Choir
Edgar Connor ...
Piano Mover
Alec Lovejoy ...
Piano Mover
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Storyline

Duke Ellington plays hot jazz in a fictional story that finds him down on his luck; he tries in vain to dissuade his friend, dancer Fredi Washington, from working with heart trouble even though it means work for his band. Sure enough, she collapses on stage... Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Short | Music

Certificate:

Not Rated
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Details

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Release Date:

8 December 1929 (USA)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Sound Mix:

(RCA Photophone System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Film debut of Duke Ellington. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Public Enemy (1931) See more »

Soundtracks

Hot Feet
Music by Jimmy McHugh
Played by Duke Ellington and the Duke Ellington Orchestra (as The Cotton Club Orchestra)
See more »

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User Reviews

Only for Diehard Ellington Fans
4 January 2001 | by See all my reviews

Practically plotless excuse to feature the music of Ellington, accompanied by Harlem dancers. Only for the most died-in-the-wool Ellington fans. Essentially a very primitive early music video of mainly historical interest. Ellington's recordings from that era abound, so that the film's main value lies in its serving as a visual document.

The sound is abysmal, the plot corny, and the dancing nothing to dance about. Many of the images are so murky and dim as to be unintelligible. The entire film consists essentially of 3 tableau set pieces, ornamented with some rough camera tricks, too arty by far. The central plot, the dancer's death, is unconvincing and shrilly melodramatic.

Of note is the derogatory racial stereotyping of the two characters who begin the film by showing up to repossess the Duke's piano. They are ridiculed for their illiteracy and for how easily they are dissuaded from their duties with a bribe of a bottle of hooch.


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