The mission of The Department of Afro-American Research Arts and Culture to identify the global significance of the creative contributions pioneered by an international diaspora of Blackness
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Thursday, June 3, 2010

Amazing Grace (1974)

"Amazing Grace" (1974) is a comedy film directed by Stan Lathan, featuring the pioneering Chitlin' Circuit comedian Loretta Mary Aiken (a.k.a. Moms Mabley). Mabley was not known to appear in movies, but "Amazing Grace" was one of two features where she was the lead. The other film is "Boarding House Blues" (1948). In addition, she had a minor role in the Paul Robeson movie, "The Emperor Jones" (1933). 

Melvin Edward (a.k.a Slappy White) joins Mabley as the two comedians share excellent chemistry while providing viewers with their old-school entertainment. White is known as Redd Foxx's best friend, Melvin, on the "Sandford and Son" show. Mabley was 17 years older than White, so the two comedians come from two eras. White appeared in several more TV series throughout the 70s, 80s, and 90s. 

Furthermore, Thelma McQueen (a.k.a Butterfly McQueen) and Lincoln Perry (a.k.a Stepin Fetchit) make cameo appearances, adding to the reunion of pioneering black entertainers that broke grounds for the beautiful cast in "Amazing Grace." 

Moses Gunn and Rosalind Cash give an extra layer as they were two prominent actors in the 70s. Mabley suffered a stroke filming the movie but returned to work three weeks later. The film takes a different direction to account for Mabley's condition as she is sitting more often towards the end of the film. I recommend this movie because of its novelty and history. Plus, it's a funny movie.

Director: Stan Lathan
Writer: Matt Robinson

Starring Moms Mabley, Slappy White, Rosalind Cash, Moses Gunn, James Karen, George Lee Miles, Gary Bolling, Butterfly McQueen, Stepin Fetchit

    Moms Mabley, billed as "The Funniest Woman in The World" and one of the most successful African-American comedians of all time, brings her biting humor to the big screen in a starring role as "Amazing Grace." 

    Moms Mabley is Grace Teasdale Grimes, a Baltimore, Maryland, widow who discovers that a local mayoral election is a front for stealing funds from her neighborhood by the incumbent mayor and his cronies. Stirred to activism, Grace, with the aid of her neighbors, rallies the community to thwart the self-serving politicians in this rollicking comedy with a social bent directed by Stan Lathan (Sesame Street, The Steve Harvey Show) from a screenplay by Matt Robinson.