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Broken Strings (1942)

Approved | | Drama, Music | 7 October 1942 (USA)
After noted violinist Arthur Williams suffers a hand injury which ends his playing career, his hopes are transferred to his son, who prefers swing music to classical.


Bernard B. Ray


Bernard B. Ray (story), Carl Krusada (adaptation) | 3 more credits »

On Disc

at Amazon




Cast overview, first billed only:
Clarence Muse ... Arthur Williams
Sybil Lewis Sybil Lewis ... Grace 'Gracie' Williams
William Washington William Washington ... John 'Johnny' Williams
Tommie Moore Tommie Moore ... Mary (as Tommiwitta Moore)
Matthew 'Stymie' Beard ... Dickey Morley (as Stymie Beard)
Pete Webster Pete Webster ... Gus Herbert
Edward Thompson Edward Thompson ... Sam Stilton
Buck Woods Buck Woods ... Fred Stilton
Darby Jones ... Stringbeans Johnson
Jess Lee Brooks Jess Lee Brooks ... Dr. Charles Matson
Earle Morris Earle Morris ... Earl Wells (as Earl Morris)
Elliot Carpenter Elliot Carpenter ... Musician (as Alec Carpenter)
Charmaine Stevens Charmaine Stevens ... Chramaine Stevens
Cecile Stevens Cecile Stevens ... Herself (The Stevens Sisters)
Leonetti Stevens Leonetti Stevens ... Herself (The Stevens Sisters)


Arthur Williams is a well-known violinist but he has an accident that injures his left-hand fingers and he can no longer play. Being a devotee of the classics, swing music grates his ears. His son, William, also has the soul of a true artist, and while he does well on classical music, his heart is into swing. Needing money, William, enters a contest in which he plans on playing classical music, but his violin has been tampered with by another contestant and when two of his violin strings break, he is forced to play swing. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Music


Approved | See all certifications »






Release Date:

7 October 1942 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Arthur Williams: My heart still belongs to the Masters, but look what swing has done for me!
See more »


Featured in Black Shadows on the Silver Screen (1975) See more »


Humoresque in G-flat Major, Op. 101
Music by Antonín Dvorák
Played by Tommie Moore on piano and William Washington on violin
Reprised by them in a swing version
See more »

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User Reviews

About as good as you could find in Black cinema during this era.
25 September 2016 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

Back in the bad old days of racial segregation, black movie patrons often were not allowed into whites only theaters in the States. Not surprisingly, a small industry sprung up--black movies to be shown in blacks only theaters. Unfortunately, because the audiences were much smaller, there wasn't nearly as much money to be made with these black films...and the budgets were incredibly small. While these films today are interesting from a historical standpoint, you can't help but notice that the acting is often very suspect--as well as the direction. The usual Hollywood polish is missing and the films try hard but aren't particularly great films. An example of this is "Broken Strings"...a well intentioned movie that tries very hard but its shortcomings are obvious.

When the film begins, Arthur Williams (Clarence Muse) is doing a classical recital with his violin. He's brilliant and his future looks bright but he's soon in a traffic accident and his hand is injured...and his career is over. As a result, he's left making a few dollars giving violin lessons. However, he also has become a cranky jerk and is enraged when his young son begins playing swing music...and he forbids this. However, when a doctor is willing to try to repair Arthur's hand, the son goes to work performing in clubs...and he keeps it a secret. What's next? See the film.

The plot of "Broken Strings" is very much a reworking of "The Jazz Singer" and the film is entertaining. But even good actors (such as Muse who was a crossover hit in mainstream films) looked poor when delivering their lines...because the direction wasn't good and they didn't have the money to re-shoot scenes. It's a shame, as the film could have easily been better.

By the way, pay attention to the bratty, jerk-face kid, Dickie, who takes violin lessons--that's Stymie Beard of the "Our Gang" shorts.

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