Double Deal (December 16, 1939)

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Double Deal
 

Released on December 16, 1939: A gambler and a safe-cracking gangster compete for the attention of a nightclub singer, and murder will complicate things.

Produced by Dixon R. Harwin

Directed by Arthur Dreifuss

The Actors: Monte Hawley (Jim McCoy), Jeni Le Gon (Nita, nightclub singer and dancer), Edward Thompson (Dude Markey), Florence O'Brien (Sally), Freddie Jackson (Tommy McCoy), Al 'Buck' Woods (Slim, Sallys boyfriend), Maceo Bruce Sheffield (Murray Howard), Charles Hawkins (unknown), Jack Clisby (unknown), Tom Southern (unknown), Vernon McCalla (unknown), Charles Gordon (Policeman Lanny), Arthur Ray (unknown), F.E. Miller (nightclub comedian), Shelton Brooks (himself, singer in nightclub floor show), Lucille Battle (nightclub patron), Mildred Boyd (nightclub patron), Alfred Grant (nightclub patron), Avanelle Harris (nightclub patron), Juanita Moore (nightclub patron)

 

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The Gangster, the Gambler, and the Girl

Famous black actor Monte Hawley is a gambler named Jim McCoy, who has a girlfriend named Nita who sings and dances in a local speak-easy nightclub owned by a gangster boss. Before actor Monte Hawley hit the big screen he teamed up on Vaudeville stages with two future actors, Mantan Moreland and Eddie ‘Rochester’ Anderson. His pals would find greater movie fame because in the early days of cinema black actors were more often cast in character roles than in leading-man roles, and Monte Hawley had the look and demeanor of a leading man, not a character actor.

The gambler’s dancing and singing girlfriend is Nita, played by Jeni Le Gon. Jeni’s real name was Jennie May Ligon, or Jennie Ligon. As an actress she shortened her first name and split up her last name, but phonetically she was still Jennie Ligon. After her acting career Jeni moved to Vancouver, British Columbia where she founded a dancing school. In 2002 she was part of the inaugural class inducted into the Tap Dance Hall of Fame. Jenni passed in 2012 at the age of 96.

In this story she sings and dances in the gangster’s nightclub, and the owner’s right-hand henchman, Dude Markey, played by Edward Thompson, wants the singing tap dancer to fall in love with him, but she only has eyes for the handsome gambler Jim McCoy.

This leads to that and her boyfriend Jim, and his kid brother Tommy, are accused of robbing and killing the nightclub owner, but henchman Duke is really the murdering safe-cracker. Unfortunately, all the evidence points to the gambler and his kid brother, so it looks like the singer may end up with the gangster-henchman while her boyfriend Jim goes to prison for robbery and murder. Pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn with plenty of warm melted butter drizzled over it and enjoy the show.

Al 'Buck' Woods and Florence O'Brien
Al 'Buck' Woods and Florence O'Brien
Edward Thompson
Edward Thompson
Edward Thompson
Edward Thompson
Edward Thompson and Maceo Bruce Sheffield
Edward Thompson and Maceo Bruce Sheffield
Freddie Jackson
Freddie Jackson
Freddie Jackson
Freddie Jackson
Jeni Le Gon
Jeni Le Gon
Jeni Le Gon and Edward Thompson
Jeni Le Gon and Edward Thompson
Jeni Le Gon and Monte Hawley
Jeni Le Gon and Monte Hawley
Jeni Le Gon and Monte Hawley
Jeni Le Gon and Monte Hawley
Jeni Le Gon
Jeni Le Gon
Jeni Le Gon
Jeni Le Gon
Jeni Le Gon
Jeni Le Gon
Maceo Bruce Sheffield and Edward Thompson
Maceo Bruce Sheffield and Edward Thompson
Maceo Bruce Sheffield and Jeni Le Gon
Maceo Bruce Sheffield and Jeni Le Gon
Maceo Bruce Sheffield
Maceo Bruce Sheffield
Monte Hawley
Monte Hawley
Shelton Brooks
Shelton Brooks