Rufus Jones for President (1933)

Genres - Musical  |   Run Time - 21 min.  |   Countries - USA  |  
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Made in the Warner studio in Brooklyn, this notorious musical is one of many 20-minute two-reelers created by Roy Mack. Many film historians have voiced the opinion that he would be better known today had he made features. His films often began with naturalistic and even real-life locations, realizing simple ideas like following someone seeking employment during the Depression. However, the mood would suddenly change into escapist fare once the musical numbers began. In this film, scripted by Dorlan A. Otvos and Cyrus Wood, a young boy (Rufus Jones, played by eight-year-old Sammy Davis Jr.) falls asleep in his mother's (Ethel Waters) lap and dreams he is President of the United States. If that were the entire gist of the film, it might have been a charming fantasy. But, despite the wonderful singing of Ethel Waters, the spectacular dancing and singing of the young Davis, and an excellent supportive cast including Hamtree Harrington, Dusty Fletcher, and Edgar Connor, the screen is replete with derogatory and offensive African-American stereotypes (involving chickens, watermelons, crapshooting, etc.). One can imagine the cast, needing the work in those hard times, had to grin and bear it.



ambition, President


High Artistic Quality, High Historical Importance, High Production Values