Too Smooth For Words

Last week, Shelia Goss did an interesting round-up of classic black movies over the years. A couple of people mentioned Cabin in the Sky, but surprisingly, no one said anything about Stormy Weather, made the same year (1943). It's one of the backstage movies about putting on a show, which means the storyline is slim (and unbelievable, since Bill "Bojangles" Robinson was 65 to Lena Horne's 26 . . . but I digress). I have many happy memories of watching this movie with my siblings on Saturday afternoons. What makes this movie so wonderful is the many musical and dance performances, including Lena Horne singing the title song which has since become her theme. Dooley Wilson was funny, Fats Waller jovial, Cab Calloway all teeth, Bojangles tapped up a storm, Lena Horne was beautiful, Katherine Dunham and her troupe sexy.

But this movie contains what Fred Astaire - no slouch himself - called the best dance number ever filmed - the Nicholas Brothers in a flawless performance, the sheer athleticism of which boggles the mind. No wonder Fayard Nicholas needed a hip replacement later in his long life. One has to hope they did this in one take, but probably not.

Watch it and marvel! And have a great weekend. I have a signing in the Citicorp Center in downtown Chicago tomorrow afternoon and Saturday I'll be at the Romance Slam Jam, doing an author session with my friend and colleague Sean Young, a signing in the afternoon, and catching up with old friends and new ones the rest of the day. I'll be back to the blog on Monday.


shelia said...

It's been awhile since I've seen Stormy Weather. I just asked someone recently if they had heard anything about Lena Horne. She was before her time. She was like the Halle Berry of her day. I would love to get a chance to pick her brain and hear the stories of old Hollywood.

bettye griffin said...

Shelia, Lena Horne was, and is, when last seen, a gorgeous woman. I do remember my father saying that she had extremely skinny legs, which are very much in evidence in Cabin in the Sky. It's too bad that she made so few film appearances; the opportunities available to her were much more limited than those of actresses who came along after she did. But she was among the first, and she made a decent living in nightclubs.

She will soon be 91 years old and rarely makes public appearances.

Mel said...

I seen this clip (at the least the stair part) on BET best top ten dancers of all time. They didn't get the number one spot. I'd like to see Chris Brown or even Michael Jackson attempt those same stunts and live to tell the tale.

I may be biased because I love tap dancing. I always wanted to learn it myself. Heck, I wanted to name my son Savion because that man is unbelievably talented.

shelia said...

Thanks for the update.

bettye griffin said...

"I'd like to see Chris Brown or even Michael Jackson attempt those same stunts and live to tell the tale."

Great line, Mel!