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 […]

Race in Film: Swing Time & Shall We Dance

*This video includes clips and commentary for both “Swing Time” and “Shall We Dance”, so don’t turn it off after the Bojangles number! Also my voice cracks a lot in a weird way… I guess I’m becoming a real man.* This, more than any previous Race in Film post, gets to the nitty gritty of the whole series, and I am very nervous. It might be strange to get timid nine posts in, but there seems to be no rhyme or reason to what I am comfortable talking and not talking about. Judy Garland is fair game, but Fred Astaire… Fred Astaire… He is the man that makes my knees lose themselves. I am in love with his high waisted […]

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 […]