Directed by Andrew Stone and starring an array of top talent including, Lena Horne, Bill Robinson, Cab Callaway, Katherine Dunham, Fats Waller, The Nicholas Brothers, Ada Brown, Dooley Wilson, and so many more, it’s an incredible film from a music and dance perspective and a troubling film from the perspective of accurate portrayals of the characters in the film, not to mention almost zero character development. There’s a lot to cover in this film and we do our best.
To help us out we both did quite a bit of research. Here’s are some of the more enlightening articles we found.
“According to a Feb 1943 editorial in California Eagle , William Grant Still, who was a famous African-American composer, was hired as the film's music supervisor, but resigned "because [his] conscience would not let [him] accept money to help carry on a tradition directly opposed to the welfare of thirteen million people." In the editorial, Still accused the studio of labeling "Negro" music and dancing as cruder and rougher than the quality numbers that he was producing and that his musical arrangements were thus unrealistic.”
“Shane Vogel suggests that Lena Horne and Katherine Dunham's performances of "Stormy Weather" in the film are, like Ethel Waters' performance of the song in The Cotton Club Parade of 1933, African American modernist critiques of American culture.”
“The Early Years - The Portrayal of Minorities in Hollywood Film Industry”, June 2007 - written by Roberto Rodriquez.
Kartina Richardson’s review of the film at the Mirror Film website.