Stormy Weather (1943)

Stormy Weather (1943)

“Tell these fools anything, but tell me the truth.”

Synopsis:
A World War I veteran (Bill Robinson) reflects back on his rise to fame as a dancer, which started when he and his buddy (Dooley Wilson) met a beautiful singer (Lena Horne), and continued along a path filled with many talented artists and performances.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • African-Americans
  • Aspiring Stars
  • Dancers
  • Flashback Films
  • Musicals

Review:
The paper-thin romantic flashback “plot” matters not at all in this delightful musical revue from 20th Century Fox, featuring toe-tapping performances by Robinson and Horne, as well as Fats Waller, Ada Brown, Cab Calloway, and the inimitable Nicholas Brothers [who were also stand-out highlights in Kid Millions (1934) and Down Argentine Way (1940)]. It’s hard to pick a favorite, given they’re all well presented and performed with enormous enthusiasm — but my personal top-picks would likely be the Nicholas Brothers’ dancing “Jumpin’ Jive” (purportedly named by Fred Astaire as the “greatest movie musical number he’d ever seen”), Horne’s rendition of the title song, Robinson tap dancing on ashes on a boat to Memphis, and Fats Waller and his orchestra performing “Ain’t Misbehavin'”.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Countless (actually, close to 20) enjoyable musical performances by powerhouse Black musical icons




Must See?
Yes, as an invaluable and still most-enjoyable all-black musical revue. Listed as a film with Historical Importance and a Personal Recommendation in the back of Peary’s book.

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One thought on “Stormy Weather (1943)

  1. Agreed, a must-see – for its place in cinema history and as an ‘all-round good show’. As per my first-viewing post ( 4 / 19 / 16) in ‘The ’40s-’50s in Film’ (fb):

    “Vamp me, Professor – vamp me!”

    ‘Stormy Weather’ (1943) [blu-ray]: Oddly, this film has eluded me until now, and the first time I’m seeing it is in this blu-ray with some very nice enhancement and definition. ‘SW’ came out the same year as ‘Cabin in the Sky’ and is the ‘other’ black musical of that year. IMHO, ‘SW’ is a much better film – utterly charming and, in a number of ways, a delightful surprise. In 77 minutes, there are 20 musical numbers (!), just about all of them memorable. The film’s titular number comes near the end, showcasing Lena Horne in all her splendor and turning into a lovely ballet-esque sequence. From there, there’s a kind of ‘can you top this?’ denouement of songs, which squeeze in a dance by the Nicholas Brothers (‘Jumping Jive’) that (as Astaire then told them) was “the greatest movie musical number I have ever seen”. High praise, indeed. The plot – such as it is – is a slim but nicely comic showbiz story that is more or less an excuse to highlight Fats Waller (who I had never seen on film, and here singing ‘Ain’t Misbehavin”), Cab Calloway, Ada Brown, Dooley Wilson, Katherine Dunham and the film’s star, Bill ‘Bojangles’ Robinson.

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