“Tell these fools anything, but tell me the truth.”
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:
- Aspiring Stars
- Flashback Films
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
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.