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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Saturday, August 25, 2018

Ebony Parade (1947) [Lost Film]

"Ebony Parade" (1947) is a lost musical variety Race film featuring top entertainers from the 1940s, including headliners Cab Calloway and Count Basie. Musical variety films were typical during this period as production companies took advantage of Race film's popularity among Black moviegoers. In addition, musical shorts, also known as "soundies," were standard productions showcasing talented artists from across the nation. Many production companies, such as RCM, released several soundies during the 40s. As a result, Astro Pictures acquired the rights for re-releases of these films and pieced them together as one full-length movie.

The structure of these musical variety films consisted of a master of ceremony (MC) to host the show, and Mantan Mooreland was the host in this movie. First, the MC would do an introduction to the production, and depending on the host, they would also act as comic relief. Subsequently, the MC would announce the upcoming act, where the film would cut to a soundie where performance would ensure. Once the soundie finishes, the film cuts back to the MC, and this pattern continues throughout the film. Also, a fake audience adds to the illusion of this being a live-recorded show.

Calloway and his band perform their novelty tune "The Skunk Song," while Basie and his crew add their flavor with "Air Mail Special." In addition, the Mills Brothers perform their famous rendition of "Paper Doll," which also features the graceful and agile Dorothy Dandridge dancing her interpretation of the number. Furthermore, the film also features Atlanta, Georgia native Mable Lee, which some consider the 2nd Florence Mills. Miss Lee was a beautiful and incredible talent who starred in several soundies and films in the 40s. Lastly, other acts from Ruby Hill, Francine Everette, Cook & Brown, and the songstress Vanita Smythe also add their talents to the show.

Unfortunately, the full-length film is lost. However, due to the nature of how Astro Pictures made the film, we can see some of the soundies today as they have survived. We have identified the following soundies:
  • Cab Calloway & His Orchestra - The Skunk Song (1942)
  • Count Basie & His Orchestra - Air Mail Special (1941)
  • The Mills Brothers - Paper Doll (1942, featuring Dorothy Dandridge)
  • The Jubalaires - Brother Bill (1945)
  • Cook & Brown - Toot That Trumpet (1943, featuring Francine Everette)
  • Vanita Smythe - They Raided the Joint (1946)
  • Day, Dawn, & Dusk - Faust (1946)
There were several acts in this film, so I am sure there are more, but we need to prove which ones, as we did with the previously mentioned soundies from our resources.

Director: Unknown
Writer: Unknown

Starring Mantan Moreland, Dorothy Dandridge, Cab Calloway, Francine Everett, June Richmond, Vanita Smythe, Mable Lee, Count Basie, Pat Flowers, Day Dawn & Dusk, The Jubalaires, Cook & Brown, Ruby Hill, The Mills Brothers

This film is a typical 1940s musical variety show featuring several prominent entertainers during this period.

**This film is considered lost until notified otherwise. However, since the film consisted of archival footage, some soundies may appear sporadically. **