Da 5 Bloods
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I May Destroy You
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77 years ago "Stormy Weather" was filmed starring an all-black cast with Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, Lena Horne and an array of talented black musicians, singers and dancers.
The Nicholas Brothers combined tap, jazz, ballet and acrobatics.
The acrobatic tap duo's iconic scene from the 1943 musical "Stormy Weather is considered one of the greatest dance sequences ever, and it was unrehearsed and filmed in just one take.
As the years pass I believe we appreciate more than ever the talent of this cast. Dance numbers and musical performances still make you want to get up and dance, move your body to the rhythm or just drum your fingers on the arm of your recliner and tap your feet.
All dancers of the past 40 years should see this movie and learn we didn't create the dance moves in recent decades.
This is an American cinema classic and the title track, when it arrives, is as sublime as any performance ever captured on celluloid. It is astonishing that this movie even exists, for it captures the genius of Black America at a time when they could go fight Nazis and then come home to segregation and de facto apartheid.
The best, GREATEST musical movie ever made! With 2 of the best movie songs ever sung: Ain't Misbehavin' and the title song!
What a fun musical! Forget the plot, this was great singing, fantastic dancing, and an interesting look at post WWI to the beginning of WWII black America. The entire cast is black which is still unusual, but apparently a real rarity in those days. Rhe last act is the best tap dancing Ive ever seen.
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.
A few great tunes, a few mediocre tunes, but lots of great dance numbers - and why is everyone smiling so much?
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.
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.
The story isn't very interesting, but the music and dancing is amazing!
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.