Film: 8414

Music | 1970 | Sound | Colour


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Interviews about the history of ragtime, perhaps as origin of Jazz and performances of Ragtime dances.

White man in his thirties sits at a piano and talks to off screen interviewer about the origins of Ragtime music on the plantations of the American south and in minstrel shows. He talks about Cakewalk tunes and begins to play 'Sadie Ring's Cakewalk' on the piano but it ends abruptly.
Cuts to old black man also being interviewed seated at a piano, he talks about how he dislikes the word 'Ragtime'. Shot ends.
Old white man seated in a garden again talking to camera talks of Ragtime schools. Ends.
Back to the old black man who plays the piano briefly then he talks about Scott Joplin while cleaning his glasses.
White woman dances to Joplin's 'Ragtime Dance' on stage. She wears green and pink tights and a flowery hat and dances to a slow ragtime tune but in a style that owes more to ballet. Close up of her dancing legs. The commentary talks about Scott Joplin. Dancer is possibly from the Royal Ballet company. The tune speeds up and ends.
Another stage filled with a full cast of black dancers in farming plantation costume. It is a performance of Joplin's opera 'A Guest of Honor'. They dance to a lively tune, jumping around the stage and throwing their hands in the air. The stage fills with dancers. A page from an original manuscript, 'A Guest of Honor - A Rag Time Opera. Words and Composition by Scott Joplin'. Back to the dancers on stage.
A small stage with bright lights and a glittering backdrop and a solitary chair, a black woman in a long purple dress dances in a style to represent 'Houses of ill repute', the dance is speeded up. Back to the old black man who talks of 'Gentlemen of Leisure', 'Ladies of the Evening', brothels and pimps. The dancer dances suggestively. The commentary talks about the poor image of ragtime due to its association with brothels and the seedy side of life. The woman starts to take off her dress and strips down to her underwear, she sits on the chair and raises her legs in the air. Fade to a very brief archive shot of dancing in a saloon and then cuts to the old man who talks and the film ends suddenly.

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