Black and Tan

US 1929

Black and Tan, by the coauthor of the classic Ballet mécanique, is in many ways a transitional work. Experimental elements are embedded within a narrative plot, making the film more “easily accessible” to the audience. The actual antiracist stance of the film—promoting black music—is thwarted as if in anticipation of future racism: while the black upper class is represented positively, the two piano movers are steeped in toxic stereotypes. Thus, the film depicts the transformation from biologically justified to socially legitimized racism. Nonetheless, it successfully captures the soul of jazz in breathtaking images (see alsoIf You Ever Have the Blues ...). There is another Duke Ellington film that was also one of the firstreeducationfilms shown in Germany, but it is not available online (Duke Ellington & Orchestra, 1945).

Video, 19 min

Black and Tan Dudley Murphy