Dusty Fletcher, Moms Mabley, and others provide some good entertainment in Boarding House Blues
Last year, when I was reviewing movies for Black History Month in chronological order, one of them was Killer Diller-a revue surrounded by the thinest of plots-starring Dusty Fletcher and Jackie "Moms" Mabley. Well, it's that time again and once again, those two are in this one as well. Ms. Mabley plays the head of the title place with Fletcher as one of the boarders. The latter has some amusing scenes with an ape named Steggy (actually John Riano in an animal suit) especially when he does some falls. The two stars also have some funny stuff with a live rabbit they're trying to cook. Other than a few other boarders doing some shtick, not much happens before a succession of comic and musical acts are presented as an "audition" for an upcoming show. Among them: Stump & Stumpy-James Cross & Eddie Hartman-a comic tap dancing act with one of them doing some serious mugging, "Crip" Heard-a one-armed and one-legged tap dancer, The Berry Brothers-Warren & Nyas-doing their tap routines while singing, Lewis & White-doing some one-liners before their own dancing, Una Mae Carlisle-a singer who plays the piano singing a couple of pretty good songs like "Throw It Out of Your Mind" and "It Ain't Like That", Anistine Allen-who sings "Let It Roll" while doing some moves, Lucky Millinder-the bandleader, and one of his singers-Bull Moose Jackson whose rendition of "I Love You, Yes I Do" sounds like something that could have come out of various doo-wop groups later on in the '50s. Moms Mabley herself comes on with her amusing take on life before doing a song-and-dance bit. This was quite an entertaining film of obscure and rarely-seen-on-film acts that I'm glad was recorded for posterity. So on that note, Boarding House Blues is well worth a look. P.S. Marie Cooke plays a character that also supposedly sings but she doesn't perform for some reason. Bandleader Millinder was raised in my birthtown of Chicago, Ill. And Nyas Berry was a native of New Orleans, La., which is only a two-hour drive from where I currently live.
- Feb 2, 2012
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