This clips starts out well enough with Cab Calloway and his orchestra in their inimitable groove. This is Hall-Of-Fame entertaining here - masters who have honed their craft in front of exacting and demanding nightclub audiences. If all we got in this clip of the 1943 musical STORMY WEATHER was Cab and company, we would be in a state of near-total entertainment. But there's more. And so much more. This is what happens when performance traditions going back for generations meet the audacity and flash of eager youth. It's dizzying to watch. It's heroic.
The Nicholas Brothers, Fayard and Harold, had grown up on the stage and had, by default, the greatest dancing education imaginable for African Americans during the early part of the 20th century. The eldest, Fayard, watched such luminaries as Bill 'Bojangles' Robinson from the wings of the stage and sought to pick up as many steps as he could. The two brothers soaked up styles and influences from every available quarter and added their own dynamic showmanship.
They appeared in dozens of movies together. Some, like STORMY WEATHER were films directed at African American audiences. In films that were intended for general, mixed audiences, the Nicholas Brothers' scenes, as well as those of other non-white entertainers were frequently excised for showings south of the Mason Dixon line.
Watch the brothers in action below. Warning, don't try this at home.