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"Bubbling Over" (1934) - Director Leigh Jason's Musical-Comedy Short, Featuring Ethel Waters in an "All-Colored" Cast


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The 1934 musical-comedy short "Bubbling Over" stereotypes the "lazy black man," with Hamtree Harrington playing the good-for-nothing head janitor, Samson Peabody, constantly hounded by the Assistant Janitor, Ethel Peabody (played by Ethel Waters), the two of them leading an "All-Black Cast!"

Waters played the unforgettable role of Jennie Henderson in the very best episode of "Route 66," "Goodnight Sweet Blues" (which I urge anyone-and-everyone reading this to watch, over-and-over again - it's life-changing television).

This 19'30" musical manages to fit in four numbers: "Taking Your Time," (in which Ethel humorously nags Samson), "Southernaires Quartet," (a delightful song about "hanging your hat in a Harlem flat"), "Darkies Never Dream," (Ethel's lament about her life of drudgery), and "Company's Comin' Tonight," (an upbeat ensemble about a rich uncle arriving in town (from the, um, State Asylum)).

"Bubbling Over" is worth watching for historical terms, and if you can tolerate "lazy, black humor," you may get a laugh or two out of Ethel Waters' dialogue after her first song ("Wake up, Samson, you're going to be late for your nap!"). 

At the end of the day, I can appreciate the humor, but still wish that films like this were never made. Ethel Waters and company deserved a whole lot better.

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