Paradise In Harlem

517. PARADISE IN HARLEM (1940-usa). WITH frank wilson, mamie smith, luck millinder and his orchestra, juanita hall singers. Back when African-Americans only were allowed to play maids and pullman porters in Hollywood movies, dozens Of independently produced, all-black-cast features were made specifically for black audiences. Here, dark-skinned performers were able to play G-men and gangsters, showgirls and cowboys, and to display the full range Of their talents. This is an outstanding example Of the genre, an entertaining combination musical gangster drama. The scenario follows the plight Of Lem Anderson (played by the esteemed actor Fran Wilson), a famed but troubled vaudeville performer, unhappy because he has not been able to fulfill his dream Of playing Othello. Lem’s problems are not limited to his prOfessional frustrations: his will is dying, he fears for his beloved nephew’s future, and he innocently becomes involved in complicated crime scheme. The great blues singer Mamie Smith is on hand, and she steams up the screen during each Of her numbers. Lucky Millinder and his Orchestra also really swing here. The presence is proOf positive that the era’s hot big bands who appeared in movies were not just headed by the likes Of Benny Goodman, Artie Show and Harry James. 83 minutes. Musical All Black