Stormy Weather (1943 – DVD)

“I sure hope I’ll be able to walk out of here without any trouble… me too”

I’d read Fred Astaire’s quote that the ‘Jumping Jive’ sequence (Performed by the incredible Nicholas Brothers) in 1943’s ‘Stormy Weather’ was “The greatest movie musical number I’ve ever seen!” and he should know.  I managed to find a copy in LoveJoys in Covent Garden and took a punt hoping it would be a decent DVD transfer.  I was delighted when it not only turned out to be a crystal clear presentation but one of the best musicals I’ve seen.

Unusually for a film of the period ‘Stormy Weather’s cast in entirely African-American featuring some of the greatest musicians of the time like Bill ‘Bojangles’ Robinson, Dooley Wilson, Cab Calloway, Ada Brown and Fats Waller. The best scenes feature Robinson and Wilson as a couple of wise cracking chancers trying to break into show business.  Perhaps operating to the sidelines of the Hollywood mainstream allowed the script writers to be a little loser and baudier than usual and the jokes featuring these two are a rapid fire riot.  One or two of the songs featuring female lead Lena Horne sound a little dated but mostly the soundtrack rocks.  The best number is a rambunctious bar-room-blues version of ‘That Ain’t Right’ performed by Fats Waller & Ada Brown.  I know this is gonna be a favourite film that I’m gonna watch and watch.

You can watch the finale featuring the Nicholas Brothers’ jaw dropping tap routine below:

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