Tagged "a vitaphone Pepper Pot," An All-Colored Vaudeville Show (1935) is nonstop high-end entertainment of the era.
The show begins with the "least" of the acts, but still fun. The Three Whippets are a tumbler act, three guys dressed like chefs who hop, leap, hand-stand, do the splits balanced on the back of two chairs, flipping through the air with acrobatic extremeness.
As they zip about, the song "Nagasaki" by Harry Warren & Mort Dixon is blasting away.
Brooklyner Adelaide Hall is next up. She sings "To Love You Again" in a classically trained mode, with the sentiment: "I never meant it when I said we were through." Adelaide had been a Broadway star in the 1920s, & recorded "Creole Love Call" with Duke Ellington in 1927.
In the 1930s she went to London for a starring role in a stage review, becoming so beloved by English audiences that she just never returned to the United States.
She became the first black woman to have a BBC radio show of her own, & established her own nightclubs in London & Paris.
To see Adelaide in An All-Colored Vaudeville Show is a complete treat, cuz what a talent she was. At the instrumental break for her number, she bursts into tap, holding up her evening gown, as if singing that well weren't talent enough for anybody.
Though the song begins conservatively enough, it gets livelier until she is scatting. Her "wordless improvisations" are said by some to be the earliest scat jazz, an influence on Louis Armstrong who influenced everyone else.
Third act is the Nicholas Brothers, who are just so damned young here.
Harold & Fayard would mature into the best tappers the world has ever known, but how on earth could they be this good at such young ages? We're seeing Fayard at age twenty & Harold is a scant thirteen!
Eunice Wilson is the fourth act, backed up by The Five Racketeers. Eunice sings "I Don't Know Why" written by Fred E. Ahlert & Roy Turk. It's a "zazu-zass" number & a total marvel from the lips of such a beauty.
I can't think of a living singer this exciting, performing at the opposite end from tragic blues, a happy-go-lucky attitude like one got from Cab Calloway or Louis Jordan or Louis Armstrong, but rarely from the gals.
Her back-up band gets its own chance to shine with a rendition of "Hold that Tiger" aka "Tiger Rag."
I'd been so wowed by Eunice that I didnt' notice the backdrop was a giant watermelon, but focusing the camera further back on the stage to catch the Racketeers, it's hard to ignore the stereotyping reference.
But the show's been so good, even that seemed amusing instead of an intrusion of the usual idiocy.
The five young men consist of guitars & a drummer, with added "fake instruments" as is a tradition with "Tiger Rag." The drummer leaps from his seat & drums the walls & stage.
Then Eunice Wilson rushes back in for the big finale for a Tiger Rag tapdance. If I had one-one-hundredth of that degree of talent I'd be so effing full of myself.
Russell Weathercoop & his date Virginia (Russell Morrison & Virginia Pine) are a ritzy-ditzy seeming couple to be dropping in at a jazz club. Russell is in fact a producer scouting for new talent.
They're listening to Teddy Wilson & His Band. Although Russell is impressed -- Teddy Wilson was in fact a great jazz pianist. The ritzy couple were impressed, but Russell was really looking for a gal singer.
=He's about to leave, but Virginia has to powder her nose first. That's when he hears an amazing jazz singer in the kitchen. It's Lena Horne, & now Russell's really impressed.
In her apron, drying dishes, she sings the blues number "Brand New Evening Gown" which runs: "I wish I had a brand new evening gown/ I wish they'd let me sing some lowwww down blues/ I wish I didn't have to keep on polishing these glasses/ I swear I'd never never wish anymore."
So far as Lena knows, the only people in the world who can hear her are her two pals, handyman Albert (Albert Ammons) & piano tuner Pete (Pete Johnson).
Pete's been adjusting the piano & played along with Lena's blues. But now he goes then goes into a boogie-woogie riff. And since for some bizarre reason there are two pianos in the kitchen, Albert sits at the other one.
While they're fantasizing they're a jazz trio performing at this very cafe, the handyman & tuner begin to play title instrumental Boogie-Woogie Dream (1944), written by Albert Ammons & Pete Johnson.
Inexplicably, it really becomes a dream. No longer in her work clothes, Lena's wearing a fine gown & Albert & Pete are in white tuxes, each at their own grand piano.
With the two pianos going full blast, it's simply terrific, with those big guys Albert & Pete elegant as all hell. Then Lena starts a fairly straightforward blues number, the Teddy Wilson composition "Unlucky Woman."
And, oh, what a beauty Lena was, rendered the more beautiful when she sings! Teddy's band materializes by magic to accompany her:
"I was born on a Friday, married on a Friday too/ Yes I was born on a Friday, married on Friday too/ Never had no bad luck, no bad luck, until the day I met you."
Alas she awakens from the mystical "group dream" & she & her two pals are still only in a kitchen. The phone is ringing, & somebody asking for a Mr. Weathercoop. That guy was sound asleep with his girlfriend virginia And they too shared the mystic dream.
Russell takes the phone call & assures someone he's been working hard all night & has found exactly what the show needs. He hangs up & invites Lena, Pete, & Albert on a sure-thing audition.
This one-reel musical packs in a lot, all of it magic. A pleasant fantasy tale & great music, from Official Films which in the 1940s produced a lot of soundies for use is visual jukeboxes. In 1941 the company would chop this little gem of a film into fragments to recycle for that purpose.
copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl