Stormy Weather is a 1943 American musical film produced and released by 20th Century Fox. The movie is considered one of the bestHollywood musicals with an African-American cast, the other being MGM‘s Cabin in the Sky. The film is considered a primary showcase of some of the top African-American performers of the time, during an era when African-American actors and singers rarely appeared in lead roles in mainstream Hollywood productions, especially those of the musical genre.
Stormy Weather takes its title from the 1933 song of the same title, which is performed near the end of the film. It is based upon the life and times of its star, dancer Bill “Bojangles” Robinson. Robinson plays “Bill Williamson,” a talented born dancer who returns home in 1918 after fighting in World War I and tries to pursue a career as a performer. Along the way, he approaches a beautiful singer named Selina Rogers, played by Lena Horne in one of her few non-MGM film appearances (and one of only two films from the 1930s-40s in which Horne played a substantial role). The character of Selina was invented for the film; Robinson did not have such a romance in real life. Dooley Wilson co-stars as Bill’s perpetually broke friend.
Other notable performers in the movie were Cab Calloway and Fats Waller (both appearing as themselves), the Nicholas Brothers dancing duo, comedian Miller, singer Ada Brown, and Katherine Dunham with her dance troupe. Despite a running time of only 77 minutes, the film features some 20 musical numbers. This was Robinson’s final film (he died in 1949); Waller died only a few months after its release.
The film’s musical highlights include Waller performing his composition “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” Cab Calloway leading his band in his composition “Jumpin’ Jive,” and a lengthy sequence built around the title song, featuring the vocals of Lena Horne and the dancing of Katherine Dunham. Horne also performs in several dance numbers with Robinson.
In 2001, Stormy Weather was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” It was released on DVD in North America in 2005.
credits: wikipedia-Stormy Weather (1943_film)
Nicholas Brothers–Style and moves
A signature move was to leapfrog down a long, broad flight of stairs, while completing each step with a split. Its most famous performance formed the finale of the movie, Stormy Weather 3] Fred Astaire once told the brothers that the “Jumpin’ Jive” dance number in Stormy Weather was the greatest movie musical sequence he had ever seen. In that famous routine, the Nicholas Brothers leapt exuberantly across the orchestra’s music stands and danced on the top of a grand piano in a call and response act with the pianist.
Another signature move was to arise from a split without using the hands. Gregory Hines declared that if their biography were ever filmed, their dance numbers would have to be computer generated because no one now could emulate them. Ballet legend Mikhail Baryshnikov once called them the most amazing dancers he had ever seen in his life…