Puttin’ on the Ritz

Here are clips from the movies Puttin’ on the Ritz (1930) and the “Bojangles in Harlem” number in Swing Time (1935):

Musings on Mr. Bojangles

In honor of Mr. Davis’s birthday, I present this comparison that I have been pondering since I stumbled across this image of Davis (top) on the web. Mr. Davis performing Mr. Bojangles here is an intriguing counterpoint to my discussion of Fred Astaire’s “Bojangles in Harlem” number in Swing Time (1936). [Props to Elizabeth Abel’s “Shadows” essay in Representations, of course] Davis’ adoption of Mr. Bojangles as signature song speaks back to Astaire’s racial masquerade/homage to Bill Robinson in forceful ways that I don’t yet know if I will include in my book. To be continued, perhaps…

Snippet of Astaire’s performance: