Sunday, October 28, 2012

Stormy Sunday • Nicholas Brothers

The Nicholas Brothers

When I was trying to come up with something clever to post, I was inspired by Hurricane Sandy approaching the East Coast, and wondered how clever I could get. I instantly thought of the great Lena Horne's "Stormy Weather", but knew that was a bit overused. However, I did happen across a scene from the movie 'Stormy Weather', featuring the brilliant dancers, Harold and Fayard Nicholas, better known as the Nicholas Brothers. Despite the overwhelming racism of the times, Harold and Fayard made a name for themselves with their amazing talent in the 1930s. They appeared on Broadway and in films, despite the fact they couldn't eat at the same restaurants, or stay at the same hotels as many of the people enjoying their performances.

The Nicholas Brothers

The first video clip is from The Black Network, a 1936 short with a fifteen-year-old Harold and twenty-two-year-old Fayard Nicholas performing “Lucky Numbers” by Cliff Hess. How fantastic this was captured and we are given the chance to enjoy it 76 years later.

The next featured routine is from "Down Argentine Way" from the movie of the same name. It was a musical by 20th Century Fox released in 1940, starring Betty Grable, Don Ameche, Carmen Miranda, and the Nicholas Brothers. It was the movie that introduced Carmen Miranda to the American audiences, and also was Grable's first lead role, the start of a long run with Betty Grable's name featured on marquees around the world.

The Nicholas Brothers appeared in the 1943 film starring a stellar cast featuring some of the big names in the African-American community, like Miss Lena Horne, Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, Cab Calloway, Fats Waller and Dooley Wilson. 'Stormy Weather' also showcased the Nicholas Brothers, performing some incredible dances. This included the song, "Jumpin' Jive", written by Cab Calloway, Frank Froeba and Jack Palmer, and includes a great vocal by Callaway It is often said that the great Fred Astaire once called "the greatest dance number ever filmed." It was also the inspiration for this post. Enjoy!

Finally, I love this clip of the Nicholas Brothers performing to "(I've Got A Gal In) Kalamazoo", from 1944 movie "Orchestra Wives." The movie featured the Glen Miller Orchestra with Tex Beneke, Marion Hutton and The Modernaires. The blond singer in the group is Marion, elder sister of another movie great, Betty Hutton. While the film might be seen as a bit on the cheesy side, it also includee early-in-career appearances by Jackie Gleason, Harry Morgan, Cesar Romero, And even Dale Evans! Enjoy this clip, and if you get the chance, check out the movie!

So, while I am not sure when, where, or if Sandy is going to hit my area, I certainly hope you are all safe as well. And I hope taking some time to watch some gave you a chance to escape some of the worries in your day, from hurricanes to endless political campaign commercials.

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