Youth, Love and Death, a little idea of the Ballet Russe with Adolph Bolm, and Ruth Page.
St. Louis Blues
Blues at the bar with Bessie Smith, a minor masterpiece at a quarter-hour and no mistake.
Black and Tan
They’re gonna take away the piano but the girl has a club date.
Snappy jazz numbers multiply the single image, she dances and dies.
Not yet, on her deathbed the “Black and Tan Fantasy”.
Fredi Washington, Duke Ellington and His Cotton Club Orchestra.
The Emperor Jones
The pride of Hezekiah Baptist Church in his brass buttons for Pullman, “no Prodigal Son”. He shakes a few dollars loose and kills a fellow porter over a girl, escapes from the rock quarry, takes ship as a stoker and wangles himself a title by overthrowing the “black trash” president of a Carib Isle.
Brutus by name.
He taxes the coffee and lashes his subjects till one morning the palace is empty and he must flee six months ahead of schedule to his overseas bank account.
Robeson leads the cast in perfect accuracy the very year Hitler became chancellor of Germany, Mussolini is likewise recalled in his very brilliant performance.
Mordaunt Hall (New York Times) has “a distinguished offering, resolute and firm” and so forth, but Variety (cited by Halliwell) has “questionable commercially.”
Even odder, Halliwell’s Film Guide speaks of a “stagey transcript of a stagey play,” and there is Jonathan Rosenbaum (Chicago Reader), “arty, dated, but interesting”.