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Stormy Weather Review

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Dancing great Bill 'Williamson' sees his face on the cover of Theatre World magazine and reminisces: just back from World War I, he meets lovely singer Selina Rogers at a soldiers' ball and promises to come back to her when he "gets to be somebody."

★★★★★

This all-black musical may have a silly, conventional backstage plot, but it was a rare opportunity for a selection of the sort of great black entertainers usually confined to poverty row “race” pictures to appear in a major studio movie and preserve their acts on film. Bill Robinson and the incredible Nicholas Brothers do the kind of athletic dances that would throw Michael Jackson’s back out, while Lena Horne sings Stormy Weather as if she meant it, Fats Waller does Ain’t Misbehavin’ with a gleam in his eye and Cab Calloway leads his band while wearing a zoot suit and a watch-chain that dangles past his knees. Sadly, in their rush to avoid stereotypes, the white filmmakers have skimped somewhat, aside from the irrepressible Calloway, in depicting the black fashions and slang of the era, going for a script that could have been performed by a white cast without anyone noticing. Also with Dooley Wilson of Casablanca in another stooge role.

Flawed but funny period musical.