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April 30, 2006


Fats Waller Photo Galleries, Stormy Weather 1943
The last day of April 2006 was stormy weather down on the farm, too cold and miserable for a walk- but just right for delving into the 1943 movie musical Stormy Weather.

Specifically, I've worked up some extensive photo galleries from the Fats Waller sequence. He sang a battle-of-the-sexes duet with Ada Brown called "That Ain't Right." Then he performed his signature song "Ain't Misbehavin'."

Ada Brown and Fats Waller performing "That Ain't Right"
Doing the math, I was surprised to figure out that Ada Brown was about 53 years old here. I would have guessed 40ish. She's still kind of hot here, though that's not exactly the main point. She had some lungs on her, is what- and she had the force of personality to know what to do with them.

Not that this impresses Fats. Note his closing summation response to her complaints of ill treatment: "Suffer, Excess Baggage, suffer." I capitalize "Excess Baggage" cause Fats says it like he thinks it's her Christian name.

Anyway, I ended up drawing up a sequence of approximately 82 images of this performance displayed on 16 pages.
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Fats Waller performing "Ain't Misbehavin'"
Fats pretty much fully justified his time on this Earth even just by composing this one perfect song. As gravy, this big movie performance is the best rendition and hottest jam I've ever heard of the song by anyone. For one thing, you might consider this valuable medicine if you've got the kind of fever that can only be cured by more cowbell.

Dooley Wilson has a brief but intensely beautiful little dance sequence, starting here on page 19. I'm not sure I could put my finger on all the specific parallel actions, but this 1943 reminds me strongly of vintage Michael Jackson dance moves, circa "Billie Jean." It's kinda weird to think of them as related, as they're such different personalities and different worlds- but Dooley wasn't much short of a moonwalk here.

I ended up with about 135 images from this sequence on 30 pages. This includes some images of Lena Horne, Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, and Ada Brown. This plays in the movie as one continuous sequence, following "That Ain't Right."

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Time is short for any of us, but only more so for poor Fats. He caught pneumonia and died during the train ride home from California to Harlem after this filming. Thomas Wright Waller was 39 years old. As he said in his repeated tag line in the movie, "One never knows, do one?" Just makes these last classic images of Fats Waller more precious.

Besides which, there are other photo galleries at MoreThings for the Stormy Weather movie, including sections for Lena Horne, Cab Calloway, and Bill "Bojangles" Robinson.

posted by Al at 4/30/2006 11:30:00 PM

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