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A Must See

Remembering A Classic: Stormy Weather Starring Lena Horne, Bill Robinson, & Cab Calloway

This summer marks the 72nd anniversary of the iconic film, Stormy Weather, starring Lena Horne, stormy-weather-43-poster-2Bill Robinson, Fats Waller and Cab Calloway. Named for the 1933 song by Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler, the story follows Bill Williamson (Robinson), a soldier coming home from war who wants to start a life as a performer. He meets the smoldering Selina Rogers (Horne) who helps him reach his dream but they both learn the difficulties of success. In a career-making performance, Lena Horne is transcendent and solidifies her place in the firmament of entertainment royalty. This cinematic gem was one of the first nationally successful Hollywood films that featured an African-American cast. In the advent of MGM’s Cabin in the Sky, this 20th Century Fox production dared to put in the mainstream something that simply was not there- black performers.

Also featured in this film is the incredible Katherine Dunham and her dance troupe. Dunham’s choreography was part of countless film and stage productions and her company travelled internationally for over 20 years. She inspired artists such as Alvin Ailey and her technique is still taught today in dance programs around the world.

Other brilliant dancers in this piece are the incomparable Nicholas Brothers. Their performance of “Jumpin Jive” with Cab Calloway and his orchestra is still one of the most thrilling dances captured on film.

What makes this film so important is not only the presence of artists of color on the silver screen, but the portrayal of black people as more than just domestic workers and servants in the background which had been Hollywood standard with few exceptions. This film joyously showcases some of the most talented entertainers while also breaking barriers and blazing trails for artists today.


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