Monday, December 7, 2009

Reet, Petite, and Gone

Don't forget to visit b.vikki vintage on Etsy!

This post came together completely by accident. I checked out a few books from the library about vintage Black cinema this weekend, a few titles and images caught my eye, and I decided to research them more. Among the captivating titles was Reet, Petite, and Gone - a 1947 movie directed by William Forest Crouch, in the tradition of the race movies of the decade.

And just my luck (and yours!): the entire movie is available online HERE. It's definitely worth watching if you have the hour to spare. It's charming, effervescent, and more risque than you might imagine for a movie made in the 1940s.

All of the female leads and peripheral characters are absolutely stunning! And even more talented! They sing, they dance, and their wardrobe is arresting.

Below are some screencaps from the movie, promotional stills, and images from my library book,Black Cinema Treasures: Lost and Found by G. William Jones with a foreword by the late Ossie Davis. It really is a great read with stills from and synopses of black movies from the 1930s and 1940s that were, for decades, considered lost and unrecoverable. How fortunate for us all that they were found and preserved, for posterity.

The embroidered and I believe feather and floral detail on the bodice of that dress is beautiful. The cap sleeve makes for a wonderfully dainty silhouette.

A bared midriff! That hair accessory is adorable. I've seen just such an accessory on Etsy.

This polka dotted look on the chorus girls, or SHAKE DANCERS, as they were often called, would make a great swimsuit with the right adjustments. NOT FOR ME... but for someone...

I love this secretary's hair. As a curly girlie myself, I can appreciate the style. In a previous post, I mentioned that women of the early 20th century, especially those of us of color, didn't have much to work with in the way of suitable hair products before Madam CJ Walker.

A description of the movie from

On his death bed, wealthy musical star Schyler Jarvis wills the estate to his bandleader son, Louis, on one condition-that the young musician settle down and marry the daughter of one of Schyler's old flames. Unfortunately, the old man's shady lawyer, Henry Talbot, has altered the will to make it almost impossible for Louis to find the girl. Knowing that Talbot will gain control of the estate if he fails, and desperate for cash to finance his Broadway revue, Louis and his agent, Sam, set up auditions to find the intended bride, but unbeknownst to all, the girl is right under their noses.

This all-black musical is overflowing with great musical numbers by Louis Jordan and his swing band, The Tympani Five. In 1987, Jordan was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame under the "Early Influences" category, and 11 years later was inducted into the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame. Rolling Stone Magazine ranked him as the 59th Greatest Rock 'n' Roll Artist of all time, and the raw musical talent and confident smoothness that earned him that status is well documented in this rare treat from black cinema history. Starring Louis Jordan and the Tympany Five, Milton Woods, Lorenzo Tucker, Bea Griffith. Directed by William Forest Crouch.

Here's a clip of my favorite dance number from the film. It's amazing how modern these moves seem! And they're sexy without being scandalous. "WHAM! SAM! DIG THEM GAMS!" ENJOY!

The lyrics of the second number, I Know What You're Putting Down, are quite sensational. It's like The Scarlett Letter all over again. As much as I love the sartorial vocabulary of the 1940s and mid-century America, I don't know if I could deal with the suppressive nature of traditional gender roles and expectations, and the fact that women's sexual liberation was still only a novel idea.

There's a whole lot of talk around town
About the way you're carrying yourself
Whole lot of talk around town, woman
About the way you're carrying yourself
You're jiving everybody in town
But old b., that's me
I know what you've been putting down
Kinsey's Sexual Behavior in the Human Female is still six years away at this point.... though, not much has changed, even with the access to more information over 55 years since produced.

For more information, and a great, informative, colorful review of the movie, visit Wild Realm Reviews HERE.

I've got about a dozen more movies from this era to feature, so I guess this will be a feature as well, along with Vintage Black Brides and Weddings, and Vintage Voters (which will begin tomorrow).

Also, this past weekend marked the 2 month anniversary of b.vikki vintage! It's been a crazy two months. Quite the whirlwind. Thank you to all of my followers, readers, and commenters - and to all of the blogs and websites that have featured or linked to b.vikki vintage in the past 2 months.

Don't forget to visit b.vikki vintage on Etsy!


  1. stumbled upon your blog on blogspot feautures. i really like it! now i'm curious to look up a lot of the movies you have on here. you learn something new everyday! thank you!

  2. THANK YOU for posting about this movie, once the craziness of class is over, I'll definitely have to check it out. It looks super interesting...

    xx Jenny

  3. Hi I'm new here and so glad I found your fun blog, with great style! Just have to start following so I don't miss a thing! Sharon xx

  4. Thanks for posting this. I love watching old movies with us in it.

  5. Thanks for the film rec! I'll definately have to check that one out.

  6. A truly great blog. You should try to get some vintage stuff from Africa too. I'm not quite sure where to find it though. Possibly try google district 6.

  7. It looks quite interesting. I would like to check this movie out. I think that I will try it out. I hope that it is available on digital download or dvd.

  8. Thank you so much for the link! I hate when bloggers speak great stuff about certain artistic production but they do not add any support or download link! You got in the point with such a great movie, besides, the music is just excellent!

  9. What an excellent hotos and information continue like that because I like so much the retro things, all things related to movies and jazz bands, thanks for it.