Between swing and blues musical numbers, the story of comedian Lem Anderson, whose long-awaited chance to act dramatically vanishes when he witnesses a mob killing and is forced to leave ... See full summary »
Frank H. Wilson,
An elderly woman in a Baltimore neighborhood finds out that a somewhat slow-witted neighbor is being put up for local office by some shady politicians who have no interest in their ... See full summary »
Variety revue Killer Diller worth seeing for many black entertainers both legendary and obscure
Continuing to review movies featuring African-Americans in chronological order for Black History Month, we're now at 1948 with a revue presented on film by the All-American News company. What plot there is concerns Dusty "Open the Door, Richard" Fletcher being chased by some bumbling cops because of some ridiculous situation I don't feel like discussing here. The only funny parts of these segments were when one of those policemen said he knows where Dusty went because "I saw this picture before!" not to mention when another of them said "Let's do that again", the film went backward before the same running action ran as before. There was an amusing appearance by Jackie "Moms" Mabley on stage when discussing Old Mother Hubbard's gin or scatting to the song "Don't Sit on My Bed". Otherwise, it was mostly great musical acts like the Big Band-flavored Andy Kirk and His Orchestra, vocalist Beverly White, and The King Cole Trio with Nat himself playing great piano while singing "Ooh, Kickeroonie" and "Now He Tells Me" and then member Johnny Miller doing great bass on the instrumental "Breezy and the Bass". Also, Patterson and Jackson entertainingly impersonate The Ink Spots on "If I Didn't Care" before one of them does a tap dancing routine. Another duo of that sort are The Clark Brothers doing the kind of stuff The Nicholas Brothers had already done in several major shorts and features. And then there's the jitterbugging Four Congaroos which feature a couple of male-female pairs energetically doing what was the dance style of the day. Many of these acts, other than The King Cole Trio, aren't very well known today and appeared in few other films. The same could be said of many of the supporting actors though an exception would be Ken Renard, who plays the The Great Voodoo here, who subsequently appeared in many features and TV shows. In fact, I just watched him in the 1969 True Grit in which he was Yarnell Pointdexter, Mattie Ross's guardian during the hanging sequence when she was played by Kim Darby. Oh, and one more player here who had done many major features but would soon quit since she didn't like the stereotyping she endured was Butterfly McQueen who wasn't funny here. She would appear in Ms. Mabley's last film appearance of Amazing Grace in 1974. Okay, so on that note, I highly recommend Killer Diller if you're a curious enough film buff. P.S. Another player, Augustus Smith, was a native of Jacksonville, FL, which was where I once lived at from 1987-2003.
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