|STORMY WEATHER (director: Andrew L. Stone; screenwriters: story by Seymour B. Robinson & Jerry Horwin/ Frederick Jackson/Ted Koehler/H.S. Kraft; cinematographer: Leon Shamroy; editor: James B. Clark; music: Cyril J. Mockridge; cast: Lena Horne (Selina Rogers), Bill Robinson (Bill Williamson), Cab Calloway and His Band, Katherine Dunham and Her Dance Troupe, Fats Waller, Nicholas Brothers, Ada Brown, Dooley Wilson (Gabe Tucker), Babe Wallace (Chick Bailey), Nicodemus (Chauffeur); Runtime: 78; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: William LeBaron; Fox Video; 1943)|
plot doesn't matter, as it's only an excuse to
showcase the black entertainers as they
superbly do their showbiz things in a string
by Dennis Schwartz
Fox's response to MGM's Cabin in the Sky. It's an all-black musical that features such Negro luminaries as Bill Robinson, Lena Horne, Fats Waller, Cab Calloway, and the Nicholas Brothers. Also doing a comic stint is Dooley Wilson, remembered as the 'play it again, Sam' in Bogie's Casablanca (1939). Andrew L. Stone ("The Last Voyage"/"Highway 301"/"The Steel Trap") artfully directs, Katherine Dunham imaginatively provides the choreography and Benny Carter ably handles the musical direction. There are fourteen great musical numbers that include the lovely Lena Horne singing the title song and, the film's best number, "I Can Give You Anything But Love, Baby," and the indomitable Fats Waller playing the piano and singing "Ain't Misbehavin'."
thin plot doesn't matter, as it's only an excuse to
showcase the black entertainers as they superbly do
their showbiz things in a string of reviews. It was a
big hit with black audience. White audiences also
responded well to it.
story is told in flashbacks. Bill Robinson, playing a
loose version of himself, playfully talks with a group
of his black neighbor's youngsters in the yard of his
Hollywood home about his showbiz career and romance
with Lena Horne (also playing a loose version of
herself) after they see him on the cover of
Theatre World magazine. The story spans twenty-five
years and both major wars, as it begins with the end
of WWI and Dooley Wilson and Bill "Bojangles"
Robinson marching with their army band, Jim
Europe's 15th New York Regiment band, up 5th
Avenue, to cheers and later at a Gotham club Bill
meets his army buddy's sister, the club's headline
singer, Lena Horne and slow romance brews. It climaxes
with a show to entertain WWII
troops, with Robinson putting on a spectacular
finale tap dancing number and then learning Lena is
ready to marry and live with him in his Hollywood
What's there not to like about this upbeat musical!
REVIEWED ON 10/1/2014 GRADE: A-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ