Vintage Black Cinema at the ST. LOUIS BLACK FILM FESTIVAL
What better way to celebrate Black History Month than takein some vintage films about the black experience?
The folks behind the St. Louis Black Film Festival Presents a Classic Black Film Festival for Black History Month at Landmark’s Tivoli Theater (6350 Delmar in St. Louis’ Loop) each Thursday in February. Last year the St. Louis Black Film Festival presented a series of new films by black filmmakers, but this year are going back into the vaults and digging out some vintage cinema for audiences with an interest in black history to enjoy on the big screen.
The event kicks off tonight, February 2nd, at the Tivoli Theater at 5pm with the 1943 classic STORMY WEATHER, about the relationship between an aspiring dancer (Bill ‘Bojangles’ Robinson) and a popular songstress (Lena Horne). Robinson was the world’s preeminent tap dancer of his day, and is remembered for his appearances with Shirley Temple in four of her 1930s films. Ms Horne, whose signature song was the movie’s title tune, had a long stage and screen career and died in May of 2010. Famed black musicians Fats Waller, Cab Calloway, and the amazing Nicholas Brothers (whose eye-popping “Jumpin Jive” dance number was done in one take) all make appearances in STORMY WEATHER and the dance choreography is by Katherine Dunham, the dancer instructor, songwriter, author, educator, and activist from East St. Louis who died in 2006.
John Shaft is the ultimate in suave black detectives and STORMY WEATHER will be followed tonight by the original SHAFT at 7pm. Shaft is the cat who won’t cop out when there’s danger all about in Gordon Parks’ 1971 action film that was not the first ’70s Blaxploitation film but, with its iconic, Oscar winning theme music by Isaac Hayes, was the most influential. SHAFT is a fast-paced and savvy detective story involving a private eye (Richard Roundtree) and the police department in a power struggle between a black mobster (Moses Gunn) and the Mafia to control the drug, prostitution and numbers racket in Harlem. Roundtree would go on to play Shaft in two sequels and a TV series.
The other screenings this month are “Carmen Jones” and “Car Wash” on Feb. 9; “Imitation of Life” and “Cooley High” on Feb. 16; and “A Raisin in the Sun” and “Superfly” on Feb. 23. Stay tuned here at We Are Movie Geeks for details on those films.