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Boarding House Blues (1948)

Tenants of a Harlem boarding house put on a show to save their home.


Josh Binney


Hal Seeger




Cast overview, first billed only:
Moms Mabley ... Moms (as Jackie Mabley)
Dusty Fletcher Dusty Fletcher ... Dusty
Marcellus Wilson Marcellus Wilson ... Jerry
Marie Cooke Marie Cooke ... Lila Foster
Augustus Smith Augustus Smith ... Norman Norman
Johnny Lee Johnny Lee ... Stanley (as John D. Lee Jr.)
Emory Richardson Emory Richardson ... Simon
Harold Cromer Harold Cromer ... Moofty
Sidney Easton Sidney Easton ... Boo Boo (as Sid Easton)
Freddie Robinson Freddie Robinson ... Freddie
John 'Spider Bruce' Mason John 'Spider Bruce' Mason ... Boarders (with 'company') (as John Mason)
John Riano John Riano ... Steggy (the ape)
Lucky Millinder Lucky Millinder ... Self (bandleader)
Una Mae Carlisle Una Mae Carlisle ... Self (singer)
Bull Moose Jackson Bull Moose Jackson ... Self (singer)


Despite the slapstick atmosphere there, the inhabitants of Moms' theatrical boarding house in Harlem are broke and in danger of losing their home. For some ready cash, they trick a producer into helping them put on a show, featuring a variety of black specialty acts. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




Did You Know?


Moms: Sure, I like Cab Calloway. Everybody talks about it. I know it. Say Cab treats me like a dog. He does. Treats me like a dog? He called me a dog. Yes, he did. What did he call me? "An old dog". Sometime, I wish I was a dog and he was a tree. I'd get even, I'm telling you that much!
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Featured in It's Black Entertainment (2002) See more »


Written by Hot Lips Page
Performed by Una Mae Carlisle
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User Reviews

Lets put on a show is a wonderful record of Black Vaudeville, but not a particularly good movie
20 September 2005 | by dbborroughsSee all my reviews

This movie is less a film than a collection of routines from the black vaudeville circuit. The results are decidedly mixed as a movie but as a record of the routines and acts it contains its a historical document (then again many historical documents are not very entertaining) The plot has Jackie "Moms" Mabley running a boarding house for various performers. When times get tight they put on a show to help Moms out. Its threadbare and simply the excuse to hang the various routines and songs on. The bits are certainly better than the whole and while I did enjoy said bits, I was left feeling rather empty at the end. Definitely worth a look or two if you love vaudeville, or the history of comedy. Actually its worth a look see if you want some laughs and aren't particularly picky about annoying things like plot. As they say its worth a bag of popcorn.

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Release Date:

September 1948 (USA) See more »

Filming Locations:

New York City, New York, USA

Company Credits

Production Co:

All-American News See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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