Film: 818

Music | 1940 | Sound | Colour


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Leadbelly, real name Huddie Ledbetter from Louisiana, who was a convicted murderer but talented folk musician.
A sound and colour film of the black singer, song-writer performing one song.
Faded up shot of Leadbelly in white jeans, pink shirt and white straw hat standing and playing a 6-string acoustic guitar. He is in open-air, possibly on a rock or hilltop. Just visible along bottom of screen is landscape, wild looking with trees. Rest of background is bright, blue sky.
Leadbelly begins to play, turning toward camera but constantly looking up to sky. Introduces song but title not clear enough to hear. Speaks over first song chords: "You gotta jump down to pick a bail o' cotton". Then, possibly, "You can't fool around". Guitar playing speeds up as he starts to sing tune.
Closer view of Leadbelly playing, detailing his guitar and face as he sings. He constantly rocks or sways with guitar to time of music.
Singing first chorus, he leans back and shows happy, involved expression, looking to sky then down to guitar. Returns to previous shot position.
Good close-up shot of Leadbelly with hat pushed back, guitar neck raised looking just past camera as he sings. Shot of his face only, with serious expression, looking just over top of camera. Shot held as he proceeds through song then returns to first shot position with him now front on to camera.
Shot, again, of upper-half of Leadbelly, leaning forward and back to punctuate song lines. Looks up into his face against blue sky. Returns to previous position but slightly closer showing well, his guitar playing technique.
Returns again to first position as Leadbelly now performs in more excited way with greater swaying to music.
Close-up of top half with guitar in full view, as he sways on verses and leans back on choruses. Close-up of face looking to left of screen while guitar neck intermittently surfaces, showing fingers in chord positions.
Playing changes: more muted for effect and possibly, slightly faster. Returns to previous shot with Leadbelly looking always up to sky. Back again to original position with guitar's neck firstly pointing to sky then down to ground. Leadbelly is front-on to camera but looks to right of screen.
Close-up of face tilted back with intense expression. Shakes head to emphasise song lyrics. Great shot looking up at him exactly side-on to camera with guitar pointing skyward. Strap also prominent.
Close-up of soundboard of guitar with patterned rim, as right hand strums. Close-up of neck of guitar with his left hand playing chords.
Looking up at his face as he sings to right of screen with relaxed expression. Playing and singing accelerates while there is close-up of face.
Close-up of guitar neck then back to Leadbelly's face. He smiles broadly. Top-half shot with him leant back and smiling.
Returns for final time to original position as he pauses during chorus refrain, leans back, looks to sky and sings final lines slowly with crescendo effect. Holding last note, he bends over and looks down at ground as picture fades out.

To request more details on this film, please contact us quoting Film number 818.