‘Stormy Weather,’ a film released in 1943, was incredible for several reasons. One reason was that it featured a Black cast when Black performers rarely appeared in mainstream Hollywood films. The other reason is that the actors were some of the most talented singers, musicians, dancers, and actors of the day.
In this clip, Cab Calloway and his band perform the song “Jumpin’ Jive” while the legendary tap dancing duo, The Nicholas Brothers, perform. What makes this clip even more stunning is the addition of color to the original black and white film.
At the start of the clip, Calloway’s band begins “Jumpin’ Jive,” with every single musician giving the song all they’ve got. The piano player can barely sit on his bench because he’s so into the music.
Calloway directs his band and sings with his signature energy that seems to ignite the whole scene with the spark of life. He then walks over to two audience members, who turn out to be the Nicholas Brothers, world-renowned for their footwork.
What follows is perhaps the most intense and intricate tap dance scene in film history. The Nicholas Brothers, Fayard, and Harold, were famous for their acrobatic technique, known as “flash dancing.” The brothers were brought up as vaudeville performers and continued to dance on television well into the 1990s.
In the middle of their dance scene, the brothers reach a large set of stairs. On their way down the steps, the brothers take turns jumping over each other and landing in splits. It’s terrific acts like these that made the Nicholas Brothers one of the top acts of the Harlem Renaissance.
This classic black and white clip was colorized with De-Oldify so viewers may behold these incredible performers in all of their glory. ‘Stormy Weather’ was selected for the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.