Stormy Weather - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Stormy Weather Reviews

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Antonius Block
Super Reviewer
½ February 1, 2017
This film is full of joy and a real celebration of African-American entertainment in 1943. The premise is that Bill 'Bojangles' Robinson is looking back on a life in entertainment, and as he reminisces, we see one brilliant performance after another from a galaxy of stars. There's Robinson himself, of course, who at age 65 dances infectiously throughout the movie, but my favorites were his 'sand dance' on a riverboat, and his tap dancing on giant bongos. I loved seeing Fats Waller performing 'That Ain't Right' with Ada Brown, and then 'Ain't Misbehaving', his eyebrows all a-twitter. There's Lena Horne singing the title song, 'Stormy Weather' with a great segue to an imagined scene out the window which featured the stylish and sultry dancing of Katherine Dunham and her troupe (which reminded me of the Gene Kelly/Cyd Charisse number 12 years later in 'Singin' in the Rain'). The high-octane Cab Calloway and his orchestra play 'Jumpin' Jive', which included an amazing dance sequence by the Nicholas Brothers, who leap high and land in so many splits you wonder how their bodies can possibly take it. And those are just the highlights - this film is jam packed in its 78 minutes, with numbers that demonstrate stunning creativity and musicality.

There are a few stereotypes which sneak in, including comedians in blackface, but those elements are small, and the spirit of the movie soars. It may have less plot development, less nuance in its characters, and less polish than white musicals at the time, and could be rightly criticized as reducing its African-American stars to 'just entertainers'. On the other hand, this was the state of America at the time, the movie represents a step forward, and I was very happy for what I did see, instead of disheartened for what I did not. Perhaps thought of another way, the entertainers' performances are so brilliant they transcend the narrow framework they're placed in, exploding off the screen. How sad it is that Fats Waller would die just a few months after its release, and that this would be Robinson's last film, but how wonderful that all of these performances were captured in this beautiful little movie.
December 12, 2016
A few great tunes, a few mediocre tunes, but lots of great dance numbers - and why is everyone smiling so much?
March 11, 2016
STORMY WEATHER is a very unique film in a few respects. Given the time period it was made in, having an all-Black cast was probably pretty rare. It also affords a look at Black entertainers that few other films of the time had done. Still, there are extremely racist depictions that might not sit well with modern audiences. That aside, though, STORMY WEATHER has some amazing musical and dance numbers which may be enough to make you temporarily forget how much of a minstrel show the film really is. My personal favorites were Lena Horne's opening number "No Two Ways About Love," the title song, and "Jumpin' Jive," which has some of the best dancing ever recorded on film, courtesy of the Nicholas Brothers. The plot is nothing to write home about, but in a lot of ways, that really isn't the point. It's a showcase of Black talent, for better or worse (there is a scene where two characters put on blackface for a very racist/stereotypical vaudeville sketch), and talent on display is top-notch.
Super Reviewer
October 5, 2015
In the early 1940s "Uncle" Bill Williamson (Robinson) is sitting with some neighborhood kids in Hollywood when a theatre magazine arrives celebrating 25 years of African American music. Bill was present for all of it, so we flashback to him as a soldier returning from WWI and get a glimpse of the changing landscape of music for black performers over the previous quarter-century. Bill, his buddy Gabe (Dooley Wilson), and Selina, the girl he wants to make a life with (Lena Horne), carry the show exceptionally. Fats Waller, Cab Calloway, and The Nicholas Brothers give signature performances as well. Some songs and dances like the Cakewalk and the African jungle number show the inherent racism in show-business of that era even though no white characters appear to put up obstacles to these black characters achieving success. This movie treats us to two especially unique experiences. First, The Shadracks was a vaudeville comic duo who do a routine around a broke down jalopy. They demonstrate that even African American performers wore blackface as a mask that was acceptable to white audiences. Second, Katherine Dunham and Her Troupe do a balletic routine as a bridge in Lena Horne's performance of the title song Stormy Weather. This reminded me of Gene Kelly's balletic breaks in films from ten years later, and made me wonder if this could be the origin. I have not seen Cabin in the Sky yet from this same year. Were there other films from this time period that had fantasy dance numbers like this, or is this in fact the inspiration for those later movies that were beloved by the Academy? Great entertainment with rare opportunities to see black stars of this era own the screen.
½ June 22, 2015
A once-in-a-lifetime cast stuck in a typical Fox backstage musical; many pleasures to be had, nevertheless, including Fats Waller singing "Ain't Misbehavin'," Cab Calloway with the Nicholas Brothers performing "Jumpin' Jive," Bill Robinson's wonderful dancing and Lena Horne's beautiful rendition of the title song.
August 3, 2014
Other reviews have said it best....very thin story - almost non-existent. But, the closing number by Cab Calloway and the Nicholas Brothers is mind blowingly good!
February 4, 2014
The story isn't very interesting, but the music and dancing is amazing!
½ September 21, 2013
This movie may be extremely light on plot, but it more than makes up for that with the performances of some of the biggest talents of the time. I have to admit it was a bittersweet experience watching Fats Waller belt out Ain't Misbehavin' knowing he would be dead from pneumonia with months of the film's release. The movie's star Bill Robinson would also pass away in six years, making this film a bit of a swan song for some and a great springboard for others, such as the incomparable Lena Horne.
June 3, 2013
amazing movie, I fell in love with it as a young child and as an adult knowing the actors and actresses in this movie and what the stood for , I love it even more as an adult
July 14, 2012
No real story line here. You don't care, it's a great opportunity to see many of the most talented African-American performers strut their stuff. Lena Horne, Bill Robinson, Cab Calloway, Fats Waller and the incredible Nicholas Brothers. Just watch and enjoy all of the fabulous music and for the great dance number by the Nicholas Brothers at the end.
Super Reviewer
July 12, 2012
while it's certainly a white fantasy of black life in 1943 (where racism didn't exist) it stars many of the greatest entertainers of the 30s and 40s. bill robinson was already 65 when this was made; lena horne was an up and coming 26. of course their relationship was completely desexualized and the plot was just an excuse for musical numbers anyway. but it's hard to beat fats waller, cab calloway in a zoot suit and the fabulous nicholas brothers.
June 13, 2012
Lena Horne was beautiful (and a terrific singer) as well as many of the "extra" dancer ladies. ;)
½ May 13, 2012
Lena Horne only great movie
½ August 18, 2011
This movie is pretty light on plot. Or you could say relatively no plot at all. Anyways, Lena Horne stars in this big- budget musical directed by Andrew Stone is 1943. Supported by an all- African American cast (some white people with their face painted black I might add), "Stormy Weather" is just a plain old FUN time. Unlike many musicals that were getting really popular in the 1940s, this is not in Technicolor, which honestly adds to the style of this movie. Also unlike those other movies, this one actually has catchy, bluesy songs, and Lena Hornes soulful rendition of "Stormy Weather" is just beautiful, and its very easy to see why here she is considered such a big deal today. She was the first Black star they had in this business, and though she eventually got blacklisted, her films are still very memorable today, especially this one which is superb. Even though this movie might not have a plot, or even good acting involved, who cares? This is a groundbreaking film that anyone will enjoy.
July 19, 2011
Not so great plot, legendary music. The songs and dances are performed by people who shaped what they did; Fats Waller, Cab Calloway, Lena Horne, Bill Robinson, (who got the not so easily accomplished achievement of greatest dancer of all time crowned by none of other then Fred Astaire himself.) etc.
January 31, 2011
The plot may be thin in this all-black musical, but instead it focuses on big budget numbers featuring some of the hottest acts of the time. And what performances they give! Lena Horne, Bill "Bojangles" Robinson and Fats Waller are stunning, but the absolute highlight is the finale. It truly begins with Horne's emotional rendition of "Stormy Weather", but heats up when Cab Calloway takes the stage, along with the brilliant Nicholas Brothers. This number features some of the best foot work ever to grace the screen, and coming from a huge Gene Kelly fan like myself, that's saying a lot. The song, "Jumpin' Jive", will make you want to do just that!
Super Reviewer
October 13, 2010
This movie has a good story, but I didn't like how it ended. Most of the movie is singing, anyway. Overall, it's okay.
September 1, 2010
More musical revue than movie with some good acting scenes throughout. This film is the debut of the Lena Horne trademark song "Stormy Weather" which really highlights the film about being an African American entertainer from the late 1910s to the 1940s. Fats Waller, Cab Calloway, Ada Brown, The Nicholas Brothers provide their musical talents, the Katherine Dunham dancers provide their only screen credit in the "Stormy Weather" sequence, but the acting takes place amongst Lena Horne in one of her rare leading roles (1943 was technically her year given Cabin In The Sky really putting her on the map), Dooley Wlson ( "Sam" in Casablanca), and Bill "Bojangles" Robinson (most famous for dancing with Shirley Temple). Great musical, but could have used more acting from the cast (if only Hollywood used African American talent wisely and equally).
½ August 14, 2010
A definition of a 1930's through 50's musical. Though the plot is a little underdeveloped even for a musical, it's heart is it's diverse array of music and art. The characters aren't super-memorable, except for one or two, but each one has a unique way of entertaining the audience. It has some humor, and the musical sequences are over the top. I rate this so high as a music lover and I love old media more than anyone I know, but I will admit the plot is quite typical, and has been recycled for nearly a century, but the music and dancing of the film is the best I've heard from the 40's era so far, and I've listened to a lot of that stuff. The performances are just as good as the music, with some great dancing, yet can be awkward and weird to many of this century about a third of the time. They are also over the top, and are long-breathed, with the only lengthy delay between numbers somewhere in the middle. Each musical number is in high contrast from the other, and the last one is of epic proportions, that blowed me away in several ways. The best character would be Fats Waller, who is very colorful, yet his part is short lived, being in only 3 or so scenes, but he performed my favorite song in this film, which when I found on YouTube, got me to watch this musical just for Fats Waller. I recommend this film to anyone that hasn't seen many black and white films, because this really is a great example of what a lot are like... So yes, you can say this is a typical film, but it's one of those typical films that has it's own twist to make it worthwhile.
July 22, 2010
if you're waiting to see the Nicholas Brothers, like I was, you'll wait until the second to last number, but it's worth it! Besides, you had to wait until they were all famous enough to have a stage with huge stairs :) (oh, and one of Lena Horne's other famous songs is Honeysuckle Rose, in case you were wondering like I was)
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