Friday, December 11, 2009

Dirty Gertie from Harlem U.S.A. (1946) & Juke Joint (1947)

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More films from the late 1940s featuring all Black casts! Both films in this post, Dirtie Gertie from Harlem U.S.A. and Juke Joint were directed by and starred Spencer Williams.

Unfortunately, these movies aren't available for online viewing. If I'm ever able to watch them, I'll do a proper review.

Two small-time con men, Bad News Johnson and Cornbread Jones, are down to their last quarter when they breeze into town. Sweet-talking Johnson finds them a room at the home of Mama Lou Holiday by posing as a Hollywood big shot and promising to give acting lessons to Mama's beautiful daughter, Honey Dew. The fiery matriarch is determined to keep her young girl from following in the trampy footsteps of her older sister, Florida, and hopes that the acting lessons will help her "good" daughter win the local beauty contest.

Amazingly, Johnson's guidance pays off with a victory for Honey Dew. To celebrate, the girl's shiftless father, Sam, takes her to the seedy Juke Joint, the same dive where floozy Florida hangs out, drinking, dancing, and planning her get-away to the big city with shady bar owner Johnny. When Jones and Johnson tell Mama Lou what's going on, she decides to go down and take care of business herself, packing a mean umbrella.

Multi-talented Spencer Williams wrote, directed and appeared in dozens of films, most of them all-black productions, from 1928 until 1947. Retiring shortly after making Juke Joint, Williams was lured out of retirement in 1951 to play Andrew H. Brown in the beloved Amos 'N' Andy TV series. Starring Spencer Williams, July Jones, Leonard Duncan, Red Calhoun. Directed by Spencer Williams.
I love the names of the characters in this movie: Honey Dew, Bad News Johnson, Cornbread Jones. You can just tell the whole thing's going to be over the top.

One thing that struck me about this poster was the name July Jones. Reminded me of the actress January Jones who plays Betty Draper on Mad Men.

More information about Juke Joint can be found HERE at Wild Realm Reviews.

On to Dirty Gertie... Love that title.

It seems that in nearly every picture of the eponymous Gertie, she's giving major FACE! So much attitude. I wish I could watch the movie and give a full report.

More about Dirty Gertie From
Dancer Gertie La Rue is the toast of Harlem, but she's been two- timing her beau, Al, the man who put her in the spotlight. Fearing Al's retribution, Gertie drags her entire show troupe out to the remote island of Rinidad, where she hopes to lay low for a while. She's also managed to make her self imposed exile a lucrative one, setting up a residency at Diamond Joe's nightclub. While Gertie drinks, cusses, and flirts her way across Rinidad, dark clouds are gathering overhead; local revivalist Jonathan Christian is on a moral crusade to have her deported.

A native of Harlem, Francine Everett was a multi-talented performer, acting, singing, and dancing her way across stage and screen. A stand- out in race films , Francine appeared in several of the genre's best pictures, including Paradise in Harlem, Big Timers, and Ebony Parade.

I've got more images and information about vintage African American films from the 1930s-1950s on my tumblr (, so be sure to check that out!

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  1. I really love the way you've presented everything. I want to see the film now!

  2. Juke Joint was a great band , how nostalgic, my father loves their music!

  3. Saw DIrty Gertie on TCM yesterday afternoon. Really really cool movie, I never knew where the term came from until now. Francine Everett is one beautiful woman too bad in those times we were such an apartheid nation. Like sports, the best ones were shut out of the game, now it's a loss for everyone. Thanks for your blog to bring some of it back!