The Cut Outs


20nichHere are a few outstanding dance sequences from the Golden Age. But regrettably many people at that time never saw them. Why? One word. Racism.

This was the fate of many Black performers who appeared in Hollywood movies. Filmmakers would shoot the sequence in such a way that the offending part (meaning when African American performers appeared on screen) could easily be edited out without ruining the flow of the movie.

This was a common occurrence particularly down South. Hollywood was constantly worried about offending Southerners.

In essence besides the often horrid portrayals and stereotypes offered up of African-Americans, TinselTown gave distributors the opportunity to simply wipe the film clean.The really depressing part is sometimes these performers were head and shoulders the best thing in an otherwise subpar film.

In many ways for far too long Golden Age Hollywood used the South as their personal smoke screen to hide the fact they were by and large the greatest practitioners and distributor of racism the world had ever known. As Dr Thomas Cripps pointed out in Slow Fade To Black, revenue from Southern movie theaters did not warrant Hollywood’s alleged fear of offending.

In other words they did what they did because they agreed with the South and carried that message far and wide.

First up is the insane Lindy Hop number from Hellzapoppin. Naturally they run after “Massa done caught them” having fun

Next is the always good Nicholas Brothers with the young knockout Dorothy Dandridge from Sun Valley Serenade. Apparently the Nicholas Brothers didn’t think much of the song Chattanooga Choo Choo but convinced the producers to put Dandridge in it. Note also a subtle shift in the lyrics as well.

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