RedState Celebrates Black History Month: Stormy Weather

Stormy Weather 1943 20th Century Fox

In 1943, there weren’t many opportunities for Black performers to take on lead roles in the burgeoning film industry. There certainly weren’t many opportunities for all-Black casts to shine.

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Black performances were common and popular on the stage throughout the early 1900s, but as Hollywood films began to replace the stage, there didn’t seem to be the same avenues for Black performers. 20th Century Fox studios helped usher in a new era of Black stars on film with the release of Stormy Weather, starring the beautiful Lena Horne, Bill ‘Bo Jangles’ Robinson and Cab Calloway.

It was one of two all-Black musicals released that year, the other being MGM’s Cabin in the Sky. Lena Horne starred in both films.

Stormy Weather featured an all-star cast of some of the greatest Black performers in the world. Legendary artists like Fats Waller, Katherine Dunham and the Nicholas Brothers rounded out the story of a World War I veteran as he returns home to become a stage performer and woo the girl of his dreams.

The standout of the film is surely the Jive Jumpin’ dance by the Nicholas Brothers. Fred Astaire called their dance “the greatest movie musical number” he’d ever seen.

The film is considered a significant advancement in American film, so much so that the Library of Congress added it to the National Film Registry in 2001 as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

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Sadly, Stormy Weather was to be Bill Robinson’s last on-screen appearance. He passed away in 1949 without another film to his credit.

These days, a movie like this is hardly appreciated by the crowds of progressive scolds who seek to literally rewrite history. The way Black Americans were depicted in entertainment was certainly stereotypical and often discriminatory, but these ground-breaking performers do not deserve to have a “but” attached to their legacy.

What they did and who they were in their time opened the door for many more Black performers and launched the idea of the Black movie star, something that would have been deemed impossible even as this film was being made.

Stormy Weather and its cast is a testament to the creativity of Americans, and the ongoing progress of the American Dream.

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