Broken Strings

11. BROKEN STRINGS (1940-USA). WITH Clarence Muse, Sybil Lewis, Matthew ÒStymieÓ BEARD. Co-scripted by CIARENCE MUSE. Muse was a lawyer, composer, writer and, most famously, an actor. He was blessed with a stentorian voice, and from the fate 1920s though mid 1960s he graced the casts of scores of Hollywood features. However, Muse was black – and so his roles were mostly limited to servants and other submissive characters. Still, whenever possible, he played them with extreme intelligence and dignity, and in so doing transcended the racism inherent in these characterizations. In fact in 1973, Muse was among the initial personalities enshrined in the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame. You won’t find him shuffling along or fracturing the English language in this enjoyable all-black-cast feature. That’s because, in these films, blacks were able to play non-stereo typical roles, and Muse does well here as Arthur Williams, a classical violin virtuoso who comes in conflict with his swing music-loving son. The film is at its best during the various musical numbers, and when its scenario focuses on the dynamics of the father-son conflict. Watch for Matthew “StymieÓ Beard, of “Our Gang” comedy fame, as one of Muse’s music students. 60 minutes. Drama All-Black