17 user 7 critic

St. Louis Blues (1958)

Not Rated | | Biography, Drama, Music | 7 April 1958 (USA)
1:56 | Trailer
Will Handy grows up in Memphis with his preacher father and his Aunt Hagar. His father intends for him to use his musical gifts only in church, but he can't stay away from the music of the ... See full summary »


Allen Reisner





Complete credited cast:
Nat 'King' Cole ... W.C. Handy
Eartha Kitt ... Gogo Germaine
Cab Calloway ... Blade
Ella Fitzgerald ... Singer
Mahalia Jackson ... Bessie May
Ruby Dee ... Elizabeth
Juano Hernandez ... Rev. Charles Handy
Teddy Buckner ... Musician
Barney Bigard Barney Bigard ... Musician
George 'Red' Callender ... Musician
Lee Young Lee Young ... Musician
George Washington George Washington ... Musician
Billy Preston ... Will Handy as a boy
Pearl Bailey ... Aunt Hagar


Will Handy grows up in Memphis with his preacher father and his Aunt Hagar. His father intends for him to use his musical gifts only in church, but he can't stay away from the music of the streets and workers. After he writes a theme song for a local politician, Gogo, a speakeasy singer, convinces Will to be her accompanist. Will is estranged from his father for many years while he writes and publishes many blues songs. At last the family is reunited when Gogo brings them to New York to see Will's music played by a symphony orchestra. Written by Lisa Grable <grable@unity.ncsu.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The glitter and glory story of the man whose rhythm and blues beat became all America's heartbeat!


Biography | Drama | Music


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


While the 85-year-old W.C. Handy served as a consultant on this film, he never lived to see it open. See more »


Late in the movie, Gogo runs into Elizabeth and explains she was just passing through St. Louis. The Hanleys live in Memphis. See more »


Gogo Germaine: That's right, Reverend. Stick to your guns. You stick to them because, after all, prejudice is a time saver.
Rev. Charles Handy: I... I beg your pardon?
Gogo Germaine: Well, a busy man like you: You can form an opinion without wasting time bothering about facts.
See more »


Referenced in An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn (1997) See more »


Steal Away To Jesus
Sung by Mahalia Jackson and chorus
See more »

User Reviews

The life of W. C. Handy , the growing up and finding success part.
9 February 2002 | by wsegenSee all my reviews

It's incredible to see all this talent in one place. It's too bad that afro-americans were not supported commercially in the 50's, this film then could have been easy to find. As it is, the big A doesn't carry (or even mention) it. The performances of eartha kitt and nat cole are pretty subdued, for the period of the piece. But ella fitzgerald swings nicely and pearl bailey has a good moment. As for over all film quality, it's a bit stiff ( e.g., nat cole dropping his cane and falling to his kness against the screen door mimics lou pinela tring to convince an umpire he touched home plate), probably a bit more from direction than lack of talent, and the plot , trite. Fortunately, it doesn't dwell very long on the angst between slices of musical venue. A collector's item and an historical document.

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Release Date:

7 April 1958 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

St. Louis Blues See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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