Boy, What A Girl (April 7, 1947)

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Boy, What A Girl
 

Released on April 7, 1947: Two struggling music producers try to get the money for a new show, but run into problems that create the premise for a wonderful musical comedy featuring many of the hot jazz performers of the day.

Directed by Arthur H. Leonard

The Actors: Tim Moore (Bumpsie), Elwood Smith (Jim Walton), Duke Williams (Harry Diggs), Alan Jackson (Mr. Cummings), Sheila Guyse (Francine Cummings), Betti Mays (Cristola Cummings), Sybil Lewis (Mme. Deborah Martin), Warren Patterson (Donaldson the landlord), Slam Stewart (Slam, Slam Stewart Trio), Deek Watson (himself, Deek Watson and the Brown Dots), Sidney Catlett (himself, Big Sid Catlett), Ann Cornell (herself), Gene Krupa (himself), International Jitterbugs (themselves, The Harlemaniacs), Basil Spears (himself), Milton Wood (Maitre 'd at the Pussy Cat Cafe).

 

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In 1947 America there were about 600 movie theaters that had mostly African-American audiences, and because of this liited nationwide audience most of the films featured were low budget. The producers of this film wanted to create a comedy with an all-black cast that would also appeal to a white audience, and this is the result. It was filmed in New York City, and featured Vaudville comedian Tim Moore as a cigar smoking female impersonator, and several of the best black musicians of the time. It provides a fascinating look at the state of dance, music and comedy in black America in 1947. The only non-black character in the movie is famous drummer Gene Krupa. He stopped by the set one day to visit fellow drummer the famous Big Sid Catlett. When the director spotted Krupa, he convinced him to play drums in a cameo appearance.

The comedy plot that weaves its way around the song and dance numbers is a simple but good one. Two struggling musical producers need funding for a new show, and they believe that they can get it from two people - the elusive Madame Deborah Martin from Paris, and a local wealthy man wiht two young daughters, Mr. Cummings. Mr. Cummings has promised to finance half of any show they produce as long as they can come up with the other half, and Madame Deborah has promised to provide that half. On the fateful day Mr. Cummings arrives first, but the boys get a telegram telling them that Madame Deborah will be delayed by several days. In a panic, they convince Bumpsie, a very big man who dresses in drag, to pretend that he is Madame Deborah so that Cummings will chip in his half of the money. Of course, Cummings falls for the female impersonator as the laughs continue to surround the fabulous musical numbers. All would have gone well, but Madame Deborah shows up unexpectedly and discovers that someone is already there claiming to be her. She joins the group incognito to see what is going on, providing another plot twist in this great comedy that has even better music numbers by some of the finest musicians of the day.

So pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn, cover it with warm melted butter, and get ready for a comedy with jazz and pathos and love and the best treasures of 1947 Harlem.