william steig drawing


Race in Film: Stormy Weather

**This video was made specially for Roger Ebert’s Far Flung Correspondents. That is why my mug is in it. Now you can see all the facial expressions you could only dream of before… and I apologize now for the state of my hair.** The first thing you must realize about Stormy Weather before anything else, is that it is not real. Of course it isn’t real in the sense that it is a narrative film and as such it is fiction, but it is unreal in another way. It is a  romanticization of African American life offering one-dimensional characters without nuance– in “response” to the one dimensional un-nuanced characters in other films. The movie opens as famous dancer Bill Williamson […]

Hans Christian Andersen

Hans Christian Andersen is a splendiferous technicolor wonder. Fairy tales, cute kids, ballet, bergermasters, and 19th century Copenhagen. I’m not sure you could ask for more. You have already learned of my childhood switch to technicolor. It probably broke your heart. Here we have another staple in my musical roster. If it was safety and security I was after, Hans was the jackpot. The 1952 film is not a biography of Hans Christian Andersen, but rather a “fairytale about this great spinner of fairy tales.” In the film, Hans is a cobbler played by the angel voiced Danny Kaye. Stodgy grown ups have Hans banished from town for filling the children’s heads with joy and laughter, and he and his […]

Meet Me in St. Louis

This clip is from the 1944 MGM technicolor smorgasbord Meet Me in St. Louis directed by total genius Vincente Minnelli and produced by that musical making powerhouse Arthur Freed. I know I normally don’t mention producers, but if we’re talking about musicals of the 40s and 50s, and we are, we’ve got to include the Freed. The film follows a family’s adventures, trials, and minor tribulations in St. Louis, Missouri before the 1904 World’s Fair. It stars Judy Garland, Lucille Bremer, Leon Ames, the lovely Mary Astor, the always comforting even when prickly Harry Davenport, and child star Margaret O’Brien.