From The Golden Age of Hollywood, comes a 20th Century Fox film directed by Andrew Stone vaguely based on tap-dancing legend, Bill "Bojangles" Robinson.
Stormy Weather (1943) follows the life and times of Bill Williamson (Bill Robinson), a dancer looking to make it big, and his relationship with beautiful singer, Selina Rogers (Lena Horne).
Thin on plot, but a complete orgy of the greatest black performers (greatest performers, full stop) of the 30s and 40s. It has loads of classic musical numbers, swinging jazz, and great tap-dance performances.
As of 2001, this film was put in the National Film Registry.
Don’t Know Why There’s No Tropes Up in the Sky:
- Blackface: Of the black minstrel kind.
- Break Up Song: “Stormy Weather” is a classic one.
- The Cameo: Cab Calloway! The Nicholas Brothers! Fats Waller! Ada Brown!
- Career Versus Man: Bill wants to build a dream home for Selina and for her to quit her singing career and start a family with him. She decides not to. By the end, Selina changes her mind and decides to settle down with Bill.
- Dream Ballet: During the “Stormy Weather” number.
- Exact Words: Chick is intensely jealous of Bill but puts him in the show at Selina's insistence. Selina extracts a promise from Chick to put Bill "at the very top" of the show. Cut to the next scene, when he's an extra, in a perch at the very top of the set.
- Expy: Robinson plays one Bill Williamson, who hit it big in show business.
- Framing Device: Bill tells reminisces to his neighbour’s kids and most of the story is told in flashbacks.
- Gray Rain of Depression: What the song "Stormy Weather" is about.
- Jerkass: Selina's boss.
- Jive Turkey: Cab totally confuses Bill with some “hep” talk, and it is awesome.
- Jukebox Musical: A lot of popular music from the 30s and 40s are used.
- Hey, Let's Put on a Show: Cab invites Bill to do a routine for his show that's entertaining soldiers before going off to WWII.
- Let's Duet: The ending musical number is about a nervous Bill unable to knock on a lover’s door, but he ends up singing with her anyways.
- Love Theme: An orchestral reprise of "Stormy Weather" plays during Bill and Selina’s break up.
- May–December Romance: Bill is a lot older than Selina.
- Mock Millionaire: Bill’s friend, the shoe shiner, pretends to be a very giving millionaire in order to stop some showgirls from striking.
- The Musical: Not a lot of story, really, but a hell of a lot of musical numbers.
- Romantic False Lead: Chick, the leader of Selina's theater troupe, and Bill's rival for her hand. He's an obvious Jerkass who never stands a chance.
- Sensational Staircase Sequence: "Jumpin' Jive," sung by Cab Calloway as the Nicholas Brothers perform what's often called "the ultimate stair dance." They dance on the floor, on the orchestra members' bandstands, and an extended series of split-leaps over each other down a giant staircase.
- Show Within a Show: Too many to count. Bill upstages one because of a Jerkass boss who won't let him show off his talented tap-dancing.
- Titled After the Song: The movie's title is taken from the 1933 Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler song.