“Paradise in Harlem” is a 1939 musical film directed by Joseph Seiden and starring Mamie Smith and Norman Astwood.
The story follows Billie Williams (Smith), a young singer from Harlem who dreams of making it big in the music industry. She meets a wealthy businessman named Bradley (Astwood), who offers to help her achieve her dreams. However, Billie soon discovers that Bradley is a con artist who is using her talent to make money for himself.
Meanwhile, a group of neighborhood kids, known as the “Harlem Tuff Kids,” are causing trouble around the neighborhood, stealing and causing mischief. Billie takes an interest in the kids and tries to steer them in a more positive direction by organizing a community center for them to participate in music and dance classes.
As Billie’s career takes off, she becomes increasingly aware of Bradley’s shady dealings and tries to break away from him. However, Bradley is not willing to let her go and schemes to keep her under his control.
In the end, the Harlem Tuff Kids come to Billie’s rescue, helping her to expose Bradley’s true intentions and saving her from his clutches. Billie is then able to focus on her music and her community center, creating a better life for herself and those around her.
“Paradise in Harlem” is notable for featuring an all-black cast and for its representation of Harlem’s vibrant music and culture. The film also tackles issues of exploitation and empowerment, highlighting the importance of self-determination and community support.
Frank H. Wilson, Vincent Valentini
Frank H. Wilson, Mamie Smith, Norman Astwood