Forties Swings, Hollywood Flash 1940-1945
When the Twentieth Century-Fox musical Down Argentine Way was released in 1940, one scene triggered a vociferous response from audiences across the country. That scene, just three and a half minutes long, featured the Nicholas Brothers, singing and tap dancing with lightning speed to a swinging samba. Audiences watching the scene would not stop whistling, clapping, and stomping their feet. Some even shouted up to the operator in the projection booth to stop the film, rewind it, and show the scene again. In the South, where it was the custom to censor segments of a film that contained scenes with black actors, Down Argentine Way was shown uncut, and both black and white audiences in their segregated movie houses screamed in excitement over the tap dancing of the Nicholas Brothers.
In a small town in Texas, the local newspaper informed its readers of how many minutes into the film the Nicholas Brothers appeared; townsfolk arrived at the theatre minutes before the scene, stood and cheered while watching it, and left soon after it was over. In Brooklyn, the marquee of a movie theatre announced, "Nicholas Brothers starring in Dawn Argentine Way," even though
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Publication information: Book title: Brotherhood in Rhythm:The Jazz Tap Dancing of the Nicholas Brothers. Contributors: Constance Valis Hill - Author. Publisher: Oxford University Press. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 2000. Page number: 155.
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