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Saturday, January 19, 2013

Boarding House Blues (1948)

Forget the "plot"--it's just contrived to string together various classic vaudeville routines and exciting musical numbers from Black performers of the 1940s. If you enjoyed Killer Diller (made by the same people as this one, and also featuring Dusty Fletcher and Moms Mabley), you'll want to see this one too. It offers a rare opportunity to see African-American vaudeville routines that were probably old in the 1920s, now performed in the waning days of vaudeville. Dusty Fletcher, best known for his smash hit "open the door, richard," is a wonderful physical comedian (her accompanied by some acrobatic person in an ape suit!), and ANY opportunity to see the legendary Moms Mabley should be taken advantage of. The musical performances by Anisteen Allen, Una Mae Carlisle, and Bullmoose Jackson are wonderful, and it's great to see bandleader Lucky Millinder as compere. There's also some off-the-wall "novelty acts" worked into the show, including the one-legged dancer "Crip" Heard. The emphasis here is on the acts you're watching, NOT on the filmmaking. All in all, this is a pleasant way to kill 90 minutes and also gives us a window into a form of entertainment long gone--classic African-American vaudeville.


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