You are to view the two short films, St. Louis Blues, which features Bessie Smit


You are to view the two short films, St. Louis Blues, which features Bessie Smith and Black and Tan Fantasy, which features Duke Ellington. In each case, the starring roles were played by two of the most significant jazz artists of the decade, with Ms. Smith being the top selling recording artist between 1920-30. Both of these films were made in 1929 and are considered the first two “music videos” of any kind and also the type of “long form” music video that was eventually made popular during the 1980s with work like Michael Jackson’s Thriller.
You are to write a detailed essay in three parts in response to these films. The first two parts should discuss each film separately and the third part should compare the two films, identify and discuss any things in common and also differences between the two. Since both films were made with either an all-black (St. Louis Blues) or predominately black cast (Black and Tan Fantasy), describe how life was depicted in the 1920s and specifically how attitudes towards black people in general, musicians and women were expressed in both films. Make note of any stereotypes that were dominant themes in these films and how such actions would be viewed today. Also comment on any similarities and differences of note that occur between these two films.


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