Boarding House Blues (1948)

boarding house blues 1948

Ultra thin storyline as an excuse to bring on some great acts. Singers,dancers and comedians that have mostly been forgotten over the years. That’s too bad because the bulk of the acts are very entertaining. There are names that have lasted through time including Moms Mabley, Una Mae Carlisle, Lucky Millender, Bullmoose Jackson and Annisteen Allen. The movie is a lot of fun.

The first half takes place at Moms Boarding House. The worst bit of the movie takes place at the beginning as Dusty Fletcher sneaks in a man in an ape suit called Steggy to join his animal act. The bit doesn’t work. Things pick up as a new tenant, singer Lila Foster (Marie Cooke) shows up.  Some great comedy follows and then there’s a bit with Dusty trying to kill a rabbit for some stew in Moms kitchen.

He can’t do it so Moms grabs a knife from Dusty and says leave it to her. The doorbell rings and she answers it with the knife in her hand. It’s Stanley (Johnny Lee) from the loan company looking for the monthly payment on the piano. He’s got a bad stutter which wears thin after a short while. He sits down for dinner with everyone, ends up with nothing and runs out.

Moms has until midnight to come up with fifty bucks for the rent collector or everyone will be thrown out. Midnight and here he is. He spots Lila and says if she’ll marry him he’ll put off Moms debt.  Lila asks for twenty-four hours to think it over.

Lila and boarder Jerry go to see producer Norman Norman. He can’t do any more shows after his last flop. They take him to see a fortune teller. It’s Moms who says he’s going to have a big success. He gives her a hundred bucks. It’s arranged for everyone to audition for Norman.

Now the second half of the movie kicks in with all the acts. Jerry is the MC. It gets off to a most unusual star with ‘Crip’ Heard, a dancer with one arm and one leg.  Lots of entertaining acts to follow. Since it’s presented as an audition there’s no audience and thereby no applause after each performance. The movie theatre audience most likely provided the applause. It all comes to a fun ending with a party at Moms.


About vintage45

I'm a big fan of vintage books,movies,TV shows and music. I encourage everyone to patronize your local used book/record store and pick up some of the good stuff. My posts are capsule reviews of some favorites that you may want to investigate. The albums posted aren't really reviews but items from my collection that are still available. I try and point out highlights of each one and let the music speak for itself. Thanks to all for checking out the blog.
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