Saturday, October 28, 2017

Gang Smashers (1938) Nina Mae McKinney




Director:

 Leo C. Popkin

Writers:

 Ralph Cooper (story), Hazel Barsworth (screenplay) 

Stars:

 Nina Mae McKinneyLaurence CrinerMonte Hawley, Mantan Moreland

This is the story of a protection racket, in Harlem, that is infiltrated by a police woman posing as a nightclub singer. Cast as Laura Jackson was Nina Mae McKinney, who played the seductress "Chick" from the first all-black musical Hallelujah (1929). McKinney was a talented actress/singer that did not get any big breaks because she was black. Also of note in this movie is Phil Moore billed as the musical director. Phil Moore was a pioneer in block-chord piano style and an important arranger-conductor. Moore was the composer of the 1943 hit song "Shoo Shoo, Baby". He is seen but briefly in this movie at the piano. Character actor Mantan Moreland was his usual funny self in a supporting role as Gloomy. Gang Smashers is a good film that moves at a rapid pace.  ★★1/2

Nina Mae McKinney & Monte Hawley

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