In honor of Black History Month, I’ll be featuring films either starring or representing African American themes.
My next film for the month is “Stormy Weather (1943). An American musical film produced and released by 20th Century Fox. Considered one of the best Hollywood musicals with an all African-American cast, the other being MGM’s Cabin in the Sky. “Stormy Weather” is considered a brilliant showcase of some of the top African-American performers of the time, during an era when African-American actors and singers rarely appeared in lead roles in mainstream Hollywood productions, especially those of the musical genre.
This movie blew my mind! I saw it as a kid in the early sixties having no idea that there had ever been an all Black cast in a Hollywood production. Most of the premier entertainers of the 1940’s appeared in this tour de force that still stands as one of the best musicals of all time!
Classic Cab Calloway – “Zoot Suiting” it!
|Directed by||Andrew L. Stone|
|Produced by||William LeBaron|
|Written by||Jerry Horwin, Seymour B. Robinson (story)
H.S. Kraft (adaptation)
|Music by||Harold Arlen|
|Editing by||James B. Clark|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Running time||78 minutes|
Katherine Dunham and troupe’s “Stormy Weather” full dance sequence.
“Stormy Weather” was the 2nd all Black cast film made by a major studio in the 1940’s. “Cabin in the Sky” (1943) was the 1st, produced by MGM. Lena Horne starred in both and became famous for her rendition of “Stormy Weather” although Ethel Waters first performed the classic at The Cotton Club Nightclub in Harlem in 1933.
Ethel Waters was a famous blues, jazz, gospel vocalist and actress. Her best-known recordings include “Dinah”, “Stormy Weather”, “Taking a Chance on Love” and “Cabin in the Sky” (She also starred in the film) Let’s enjoy her interpretation of the classic tune by Arlen and Koehler:
The song was written by Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler who worked as music composers at the renowned Cotton Club from 1930-1934. They wrote many of the jazz revue songs that were performed at the club and are still classics today. Harold Arlen wrote the music and Ted Koehler the lyrics.
“Stormy Weather” was selected in 2001 to The Library of Congress National Film Registry.
Get ready to have your “mind blown”! This dance sequence by the Nicholas Brothers is unreal. Check it out. Holy crap!!