10 user 4 critic

Black and Tan Fantasy (1929)

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


Dudley Murphy


Dudley Murphy (story)
1 win. See more awards »


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


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


Short | Drama | Music


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


An advertising poster for this film is pictured on one stamp of a set of five 42¢ USA commemorative postage stamps honoring Vintage Black Cinema, issued 16 July 2008. Other films honored in this set are The Sport of the Gods (1921), Princesse Tam-Tam (1935), Caldonia (1945), and Hallelujah (1929). See more »


Referenced in The Public Enemy (1931) See more »


Black Beauty
Written by Duke Ellington
Played by Duke Ellington and the Duke Ellington Orchestra (as The Cotton Club Orchestra)
See more »

User Reviews

Aside from some unfunny comedy, this is a nice showcase for what was occurring in the Harlem Renaissance.
9 July 2011 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

This film was included in the three DVD set "Saved From the Flames"--a collection of mostly ephemeral movies that have managed to avoid turning to powder, catching fire or melting--something that usually happened with the nitrate film stock used up through the 1950s. Like so many of the very early sound films, the sound quality is fair at best. However, it is your earliest sound film featuring Duke Ellington--and that alone makes it worth seeing and hearing.

Wow....will this film make a few heads turn here in the 21st century! It features some VERY broad acting by some VERY stereotypical black men--men who love to drink and are illiterate. I think this 'comedy' was included to please white audiences who might have seen it, as this was the sort of image of black America they felt comfortable seeing. Then, after the pair leave, Ellington and his friends perform some nice jazz--and inventive camera work. Personally, I think they should have just shown the jazz and dancing of the folks from the famed Cotton Club instead of inserting the needless comedy--especially as it isn't particularly funny.

As a window into the Harlem Renaissance, this is an invaluable film historically speaking. Lovers of early jazz will no doubt enjoy it and you can't help but admire these talented folks.

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Release Date:

8 December 1929 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Photophone System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See full technical specs »

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