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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Showing posts with label Short. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Short. Show all posts

Saturday, December 9, 2023

A Tough Winter (1930)

"A Tough Winter" (1930) is a comedy short part of the "Our Gang Comedies [a.k.a. The Little Rascals]" by Hal Roach and is the 99th episode of the series. The film stars Stepin Fetchit, Allen 'Farina' Hoskins, Jackie Cooper, Mary Ann Jackson, Bobby 'Wheezer' Hutchins, and Pete the Dog.

Lincoln Theodore Perry [a.k.a. Stepin Fetchit] became famous in Hollywood in 1929 and starred in nine films. However, his fame was due to his negative stereotypical depiction of Black people in movies. Most of his portrayals were shiftless, slow-talking, tap-dancing, and dim-wittedness. He was a comedic relief, making him the first black actor to earn $1 million. 

Allen 'Farina' Hoskins started acting in 1922 as an original cast member of the "Our Gang Comedies." He had a total of 118 credits, with his last in 1936. He branched away from the "Our Gang Comedies" in the 1930s and appeared in a few films, such as "The Mayor of Hell" (1933) and "Reckless" (1935). 

Unfortunately, many Hollywood films that feature Black actors in the 20s and 30s suffered from racist stereotypes. The early years of "Our Gang Comedies" were a product of the era, so Farina and Stepin Fetchit are examples of Hollywood's depiction of Black people. It may be challenging for some to see this film and not feel offended, which is understandable. But we must be critical and truthful about history, even if it makes us uncomfortable. Pretending it didn't happen helps nobody.

Director: Robert F. McGowan
Writers: Robert A. McGowan, H.M. Walker

Starring Stepin Fetchit, Farina' Hoskins, Jackie Cooper, Mary Ann Jackson, Bobby 'Wheezer' Hutchins, Pete the Dog, Thomas Atkins, Walter Weidler, Warner Weidler

Stepin Fetchit allows the gang to come in from the cold and later attempts to help Mary Ann clean up after a "taffy pull" goes wrong.

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Boogie-Woogie Dream (1944)

"Boogie-Woogie Dream" (1944) is a short musical featuring Lena Horne, Albert Ammons, Pete Johnson, Teddy Wilson, and his Orchestra. Official Films is responsible for the production and distribution of the movie. The film showcases musical talent when Lena sings "Unlucky Woman" and Albert and Pete perform "Boogie Woogie Dreams." Teddy Wilson and his Orchestra provide additional musical numbers while playing for Lena.

Official Films released the movie in 1944, but filming started in 1941, two years before Lena Horne starred in "Stormy Weather" and Cabin in the Sky." So by 1941, Lena hadn't made it into the Hollywood limelight even after appearing in her first leading role in the 1938 film by Ralph Cooper, "The Duke is Tops." In addition, Pete Thomas and Albert Ammons were professional pianists famous for their jazz and boogie-woogie compositions. Teddy Wilson was also a prominent pianist who worked with Louis Armstrong, Lionel Hampton, and Billie Holiday. Wilson formed his short-lived big band in 1939, then led a sextet at CafĂ© Society from 1940 to 1944. 

While the film was short, it received many advertisements in 1944 and 1945. However, Lena's sudden stardom increased attraction in this movie. 

Director: Hans Burger
Writer: Karl Farkas

Starring Lena Horne, Albert Ammons, Pete Johnson, Teddy Wilson, Virginia Pine, Russell Morrison

After hours at a nightclub, the hired help has a jam session, which a couple of overdue customers wanted to hear.

This movie presents the first digital transfer provided by the Department of Afro-American Research, Arts, and Culture. The film was scanned from a 16 mm reel to hi-definition.

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Paper Doll (1942, Soundie)

The Mills Brothers perform "Paper Doll" featuring Dorothy Dandridge dancing. Juanita Moore is one of the girls sitting on one of the Mills Brothers' lap.

I Dreamt I Dwelt in Harlem (1941, Soundie)


The Delta Rhythm Boys perform "I Dreamt I Dwelt in Harlem" (1941).