Stompin' at the Savoy (1992) - full transcript

Four young black women are trying to achieve their dreams of success in the 1930s Harlem.

[gentle music]

- [Esther] 1939, the
Great Depression.

We came up to New York
from North Carolina.

We didn't know we were
part of a big migration

of Black folks from
south to north.

All we knew was there
was nothing back home,

no jobs, no money, no hope.

Hope and dreams.

They were never in short supply

for Dorothy, Alice,
Pauline, and me.

All those nights we used
to troop up to the Savoy.

I guess we all had our
hopes and our dreams.

And I always knew I'd
make mine come true.

[gentle music]

- Esther, did Thomas
call yesterday?

- No, ma'am.

- Thank you.

♪ Savoy the home
of sweet romance ♪

♪ Savoy it wins
you at a glance ♪

[baby fussing]

♪ Savoy gives happy
feet a chance ♪

♪ To dance

- How is everybody?

Here we go.

♪ Your form just like
a clinging vine ♪

♪ Your lips so warm
and sweet as wine ♪


Are you coming
back this evening?

- Hmm.

♪ Your cheek so soft
and close to mine ♪

♪ Divine

♪ How my heart is singin'

♪ While the band is swingin'

- Esther, come on!

Esther! Come on!

♪ Never tired of rompin'

♪ And stompin' with
you at the Savoy ♪

♪ What joy a perfect holiday

♪ Savoy where we
can glide and sway ♪

♪ Savoy let me stomp
away with you ♪

- Paper, ma'am?

Paper, ma'am?



- Every Thursday
this woman asks me,

"Are you coming
back this evening?"

Shouldn't you know
by now I ain't?

[people chattering]

Oh, I wish I had
me a record player.

I love that song.


I am gonna get serious
and hook up with a band.

- [Esther] Mm-hmm.

- [Pauline] My next job
is gonna be singing.

For I am a singer.

[children playing outside]

What you know good, Alice?

- Hey, Pauline.

- When I ask you,
"What you know good?"

Don't come give me
no countrified "hey!"

- You picking on Alice again?

- She keep it up, she'll have
me talking all dicty like her.

- [Esther] Mm-hmm.

- Nobody could
ever call me dicty.

I just don't want you to sound

like you caught the last
train out the cotton field.

- Well, everybody
wasn't lucky enough

to be born in the Big
Apple like you, Pauline.

- Oh.

- D here yet?

- [Alice] She's in the bathroom.

- Damn, I just wish one time
I could get in there first.

- I wish I had me
some stockings.

Esther, you wanna go
down to the A&S with me?

- No, I don't have
no money to spare.

I gotta save all my money to
play the number this week.

- Wish I could.

- Well, it don't
cost nothing to wish.


7-3-9, right?

I played that number so many
times I know it by heart.

- I swear, I'll pay
you back next week.

- Mm-hmm.

Oh D, I got a
letter from my mama.

She says your daddy's
feeling much better.

- Yeah, I got a letter
from my sister, Cora.

Said Papa might be
going back to work soon.

- If there's any
work to get back to.

Well, slow down, girl,
where you headed?

- World's Fair.

- Again?

Do you have any idea how many
numbers you could combinate

with that 50 cents you spend
every time you go out there?

- I haven't even
seen half of it yet.

- Mm.

- Don't you wanna
learn about the future?

- I do.

- Mm-mm.
- Mine!

Now, who's gonna go down to
the Lafayette with me tonight?

Oh, come on!

The talent contest.

I think I've got a good chance.

- Pauline, we only get
one night a week off.

I'm sorry, but I'm going
to the Savoy, honey.

- Chick & Ella tonight.

And I promised to meet Ernest.

- Yeah, and I thought
I'd meet y'all there

after I see the
Futurama exhibit.

- [scoffs] You mean
to tell me all y'all,

my so-called friends,
would rather go dancing

than cheer me on
at the Lafayette?

- [All] Yeah.

- So would I.

[all laugh]

[kids chattering]

- You have a good time
tonight, you hear?

- That big bull stood on
my foot the whole way,

from Brooklyn to Harlem.

I don't even think I'm
gonna be able to dance.

- Oh you will, as soon as you
hear the music and see Ern.

- Yeah, I'm telling you,
they have these things

that's gonna show movies
right in your own home.

Um, televisions or televisuals,

and every home's gonna have one.


Really, that's what I saw.
- Come on, let's go!

- I'm gonna get sick Saturday,

and see about amateur night
at the Harlem Opera House.

- [gasps] That's
where Ella started!

- Well, then I guess
it's good enough for me.

- Yeah, but are you good
enough for the Opera House?

- Will you drop dead, please?

- Oh!

I'm going to the ladies room.

- Ooh, Chick Webb!

- I wonder if
Ernest is here yet.

- Well, I came here to dance.

Come on.

["It Don't Mean a Thing [If
It Ain't Got That Swing]"]

♪ It don't mean a thing if
it ain't got that swing ♪

♪ Doo wop doo wop doo wop doo
wop doo wop doo wop doo wop ♪

♪ It don't mean a thing
all you gotta do is sing ♪

♪ Doo wop doo wop doo
wop doo wop doo wop ♪

♪ Makes no difference
if it's sweet or hot ♪

♪ Just give that
rhythm everything ♪

♪ Give the rhythm
everything you've got ♪

♪ It don't mean a thing

♪ If it ain't got that swing

♪ Doo wop doo wop
doo wop doo wop ♪

♪ No it don't mean a thing
if it ain't got that swing ♪

♪ Doo wop doo wop
doo wop doo wop ♪

♪ Doo wop doo wop
doo wop doo wop ♪

♪ Doo wop doo wop
doo wop doo wop ♪

♪ Doo wop doo wop doo wah

[crowd applauding]

- Woo! [laughs]

Oh, appreciate it.

Chick Webb.

Yes, Chick Webb,
ladies and gentlemen.

[crowd applauding]

Thank you.

[crowd applauding]

- Hey, beautiful.

- I've been looking for you.

- Mm-hmm, between dances.

You look so...

So good.

[swing music]

- Did you get it?

- No.

- You'll get it soon.

- I thought this damn
Depression was ending.

And I haven't worked
in three weeks.

I should be hearing from
the WPA any day now.

- I know you will.

[swing music]

Come on.

Can't let this good
music go to waste.

[swing music]

- Next week I'm gonna
be on that bandstand.

- Oh.

- Know why?

I'm gonna be the new MC.

- Ooh, my God!


- [Esther] Who is he?

- If I knew his name,
I'd be over there

making use of it right now.

- Hell, baby,

you mean to tell me you
don't know Walter Turner?

- Well, you do?

- My main man.

Owns a cafe right
down here on Lennox.

- Well, I sure would
like to meet him.

- Solid.

[swing music]

- Oh, Pauline.

[swing music]

He's coming over, Pauline.

- Uh, Paula, Dorothy--

- Pauline.

- Pauline, Dorothy, Esther,

I want you to meet
Walter Turner.

- I'm very glad to meet you.

- Hi.
- Hi.

- You ladies come here often?
I haven't seen you before.

- Yeah, every Thursday,
every other Sunday.

- Hey, baby, you
want to struggle?

- Sure.

- Yeah, we're here every
Kitchen Mechanics' Night.

- Would you like to dance?

[swing music]

- That look into my eyes crap
didn't get over with him.

[Pauline scoffs]

- Well, it got over with you.

- Why'd you ask me to dance?

You know Pauline
wanted to dance.

- I already danced with her.

With chicks just like her.

I wanted to dance with you.

[swing music]

That's better.

How long you been
up in New York?

- Five months.

- From?

- Hertford.

Hertford, North Carolina.

- Carolina?
- Mm-hmm.

- So how you like it up here?

- I like it.

It's big and you could drop
dead, nobody would care.

But here, there are all
these different people

doing different things.

Makes me think maybe I could
do something different, too.

- Yeah, like what?

- I don't know.

Not housework, though.

At home you're lucky
if you got any job.

But here, you know, I think
maybe I got more of a choice.

- See all these women here?

They all work in
some ofay's kitchen.

And a lot of the fellas here
ain't got no job at all.

Have you never heard
of the Depression?

You never heard if you're
white, you're all right,

and if you're black, get back?

- You don't work
for no white folks.

- Girl, I could just

as easily be driving
some white man's car.

Yeah, you can do a little
something for yourself,

but just wanting it
don't make it so.

Unless you want it bad enough.

[swing music]

- Walter, that's some crazy car!

- Oh!

Well, I guess I'll see you
next week at the Savoy.

Or at your place, Walter.

- All right, goodnight.

- Come on, Esther.

- [Esther] I'm coming.

- Come on, Esther!

- Goodnight.

When am I gonna see you again?

You, uh, you off Sunday?

- Yeah.

- Well, do you have any plans?

- Um...

Well, we're going to the
Savoy early, around five.

- What if I meet you there?

- Okay.

- See you Sunday.

- Bye.

- Esther.

You slay me.

[jazzy music]

[bright jazz]

[people clapping]

- If he ain't here
in 20 minutes,

like the West Indians
say, "I gone."

[Esther sighs]

- Hey.

You looking for somebody?

- Hi.

- Looks kind of dead in here.
Why don't you let me feed you?

Come on.

- No, uh-uh.

No, I brought Dorothy
and Pauline with me.

- How come girls always
travel in packs like rats?

- 'Cause I was afraid
you wasn't gonna show up.

Besides, it wouldn't
be nice to leave them.

- Hey, oh!

Did you really think I
wasn't gonna show up?

- I believe in being
prepared for the worst.

- Oh! This from the girl
who was coming to New York

to do all these
different things.

- Oh, you think that's funny?

- Come on, sit down.

Sit down.

I think any time you want
something and you go after it,

that's great.

So what you gonna do?

- Oh, you're gonna
think this is stupid.

- Try me.

- Well...


See, I play the number
every day, every week,

and if I ever hit, I'm gonna
be something just like you

except I'm gonna
open a beauty shop.

'Cause I used to do
everybody's hair at home,

I got a real flair for it.

- Maybe I could help you.

- How?

- Maybe I know a lady
who owns a beauty shop.

I could call her up, tell
her to give you a job.

You know, shampoo girl,

teach you how to do those heads.

- You mean you just
call this lady up

and she'll give me a
job just like that?

- Mm-hmm.

- And you're not afraid
this lady'll get jealous?

- Oh, Larraine's not
really like that.


she's my sister.

[Esther laughs]

- All right, Miss Johnson.

You just step right over
here to the shampoo bowl.

- I thought she got married.

- She's saying she did.

Claims he's with Count Basie.

The way she looks, more
like Count Dracula to me.

- She not doing so hot, huh?

- Oh, honey, she looks so bad.

All she have to do is close
her eyes, she'd be dead.

- Good afternoon, ladies!

- [Woman] Hey, look
who's here, Herman!

- Anything for me
this afternoon?

- You know I do.

- Ooh, girl, you old faithful.

I meant anything else.

[coins clinking]

- I want to combinate
on 1-6-8 for ten cents.

- 1-6-8, that sounds familiar.

- Ought to.

Last three numbers of
Walter's cafe address.

- And I want to place 10
cents straight on 7-3-9.

No, make that 40 cents.

What you doing here?

- [Woman] Don't
press it so hard!

- I couldn't take that woman
and her uniform no more.

- You lose your job?

- Mm-hmm.

- Oh, no.

What you gonna do?

- I don't know,
find another one or

maybe retire to
Florida. [laughs]

You know of anything?

- Mm-mm.

- Say, where is everybody?

- [sniffs] Your
mama went shopping.

- Alone at last.

- Boy, quit!

And watch where you're walking.

I just scrubbed there.

- Alice, I like you.

I really like you.

- What would you do if your mama

was on the other
side of that door,

listening to you right now?

Probably die.

I don't know why you
keep bothering me.

- Because I like you.

And it doesn't matter
that you're colored.

- Not much, it don't.

I'm light.

So, to you that makes me better.

Still colored, but better.

A lot of colored people
think that way too, Paul.

But I don't.

- Alice, I--

- I got a man.

He's black as your shoe.

He's good and handsome

and I love him.

If I had to choose between
him or anybody else,


I choose him.

Now I got a floor to scrub
before your mama gets home.

- That's it.

Do the same thing
underneath that curl.

Do both sides, that
way it'll last longer.

- And it's got to last me.

Don't know when I'm
gonna get back in.

Getting ready for the
season opener in Saratoga.

- [Larraine] You
going up there again?

- Yeah, girl, and
you should, too.

There's no colored beauty
shop anywhere near there.

- What am I supposed
to do with this place

while I go traipsing up there?

- Oh, let your operators
take care of the shop.

You're only gonna be
gone a couple of months

and you can make lots of money.


- Ooh!
- God bless!

- Ooh!

- [Larraine] Careful.

- Sorry, Miss Brown.
- How much you gonna pay me

to let this woman
practice on my head?

- She could pay better
attention to what she's doing

if you'd keep still about
your big money dreams.

- Last season, I made $1,540
and that ain't no dream.

And this season, I'm
going to do even better.

When that racetrack opens,

there is a flood of
tourists and gamblers

and with the prostitutes
and the maids

and no colored beauty shop,

you could just watch
that money rolling in.

- I'm doing all right here.

- All right, but you can
make one, maybe $2,000

in a few months after
the racetrack is open.


- You doing real good, Esther,

but you got to pay attention.

- I'm real sorry.

[bright music]

- Esther!


Esther, Esther, did you hear?

Did you see the
paper last night?

- No.

- Esther, 7-3-9 hit!

7-3-9 hit, Esther!
- Oh!

- You rich!

- Wait a minute, wait a
minute, not my number.

- Yes, it is, Esther!

- No, I didn't--

- Esther, you played that
number the other day with me

for 40 cents!
- But it's not my number.

- Esther, right now you
got yourself $200 coming!

- Ain't nothing beats
having a rich old lady.

- Except when it's
having a rich young 'un.

- Here.

- Hallelujah!

- We're gonna go out
and celebrate tonight.

And I mean really celebrate.

[bright music]

- [Woman] Now, see that?

I'm gonna start playing.

- Hm.

[brassy music]

- So I wonder what
rents are like.

How much you figure it would
cost to get a place up there?

- I don't know.

[man laughing]

- I thought I caught the smell
of a cooking grease turner.

- Probably your top
lip, my man. [laughs]

This here is Calvin

and we have been going
at each other since...

Since forever.

- You got to be Esther.

I sure heard a lot about you.

- Calvin owns this
spot, or so he claims.

- Ooh!

How is everything?

Anything I can get you?

- No, thank you.

- No, you can go ahead and
get lost. [Calvin laughs]

- Walter, I'm not
trying to cut in.

- Not that you could.

[both laugh]

- Holler if you need anything.

It's a pleasure
to meet you, miss.

- Oh, it's nice,
nice meeting you.

- Calvin's all right,
you just got to

count your fingers after
you shake that man's hand.

- Walter, Walter,
come on, now, tell me,

how would I get
fixtures for a shop?

I wouldn't have to
buy 'em, would I?

I could rent 'em, huh?

- You been working at
Larraine's for three months.

You ready to just get up and go?

What do you know about Saratoga?

What are the rents like?

You're talking about
leasing fixtures.

You know how many
you want to lease?

For how long you
want to lease them?

How many customers you're
planning on having?

Do you know what the hell
you're talking about at all?

- No, I don't know.

You know I don't know, Walter.

That's why I'm asking you.

All I know is I have to try.

- All right.

We take the day off tomorrow

and we'll go up there and
we'll look around, okay?

- Okay.

- All right.

Now, this here is
supposed to be a party.

You having a good time,
baby? You like this place?

- Yeah, I do.

- But?

- I'd rather go to the Savoy.
- I'd rather go to the Savoy.

["Stompin' at the Savoy"]

[all clapping]

- All right, all right!

How y'all doing this evening?

[crowd cheers]

I said, are you ready?

- [All] Yeah!

- Is you ready?

- [All] Yeah!

- Well, then back on up and
clear out this here floor.

'Cause you know what
time it is, don't you?

It's time to swing!



[all cheering]

["Sing Sing Sing"]

[all clapping]

[gentle music]

- You gonna wear that
coat all night long?

You want me to help you with it?

- I can do it.

- You know, to
tell you the truth,

I was kind of
planning on tonight.

Figured, um, a little nightclub,

some celebrating, maybe,

maybe I'd get you
up here with me.

I never figured you'd say

what you said
tonight at the Savoy.

- I think of it every
time I'm with you.

I can stop myself
thinking about it.

[romantic music]

Oh, you think I'm bad.

- I hope so.

[romantic music]

- Oh.

- Ooh, baby, you're
something else.

[romantic music]

- Truly revolutionary art

demands that the
masses be the heroes

and capitalism the enemy.

- [Man] Really, Martha.

Your argument collapses
when you remember

that your corrupt capitalists

are the only people who
can afford to buy tickets

to those Broadway shows.

- Thank you.

- Dorothy.

Everything's going
splendidly, isn't it?

Would you please see
if you can help Mimi?

- Yes, ma'am.

- Very good.

- Bill, I think this play
is going to make you.

- Yeah, well, I've
heard that before.

- I mean this is exactly
the kind of part that

draws a lot of attention.

- I hope so.


- Um, what are you looking for?

Maybe I can help you.

- I found it, but

I don't understand
what it means.

- Well, what were
you looking up?

- [Dorothy] Capitalism.

- Capitalism.

"A form of economic, industrial,
and social organization

"of society involving
ownership, control,

"and direction of production
by privately owned

"business organizations."

Uh, that means the big guys
who own the businesses are rich

and the working
people stay poor.

- Thank you.

- Yeah. I was a
communist last year.

I thought it would
help me with these

big-time left wing
producers, but, uh,

it didn't.

I'm Bill Jeremy.

Oh, wait a minute, wait
a minute, don't go.

I mean, this party's had it.

I can tell you the place stinks.
I know because I'm in it.

Just what tonight's all about.

When a play opens,

it's tradition to
have a party and to

wait for the reviews
in the morning papers.

- I know that.

- So, what I was thinking was
that maybe you and I could,

uh, ditch this funeral and

go have a cup of
coffee somewhere.

- What did you
say your name was?

- Bill Jeremy.

- Mm.

Mr. Jeremy, in this
house my name is Dorothy.

I don't have a last
name when I'm here.

I am not some guest who can
come and go as I please.

I work here.

- [Ernest] Alice,
you're acting like

I'm asking you to commit
murder or something.

For God's sake, Alice!

- [Alice] I ain't getting
caught butt-naked under

no Coney Island boardwalk!

- [Ernest] Sweet-pea,
I got feelings.

For God's sake,
Alice, I'm a man.

- Ernest.

Don't you think I
want you to hold me?

I love for you to touch me.

Maybe if we take it easy.

- Take it easy.

- Not get so excited.

- Mm.

[woman laughing nearby]


Ain't you got no
decency over there?

This is a public place!

- [Man] Oh, man, drop dead!

- I'll drop!

- Ernest.

- Let's get outta here.

Wait a minute.

Let's get married.

- How can we?

- Well, we just do it.

Come on, sweet-pea.

The world is full
of poor colored folk

and most of them are married.

And look, look,

I know I'm gonna be hearing
from Jacobs real soon.

I know it.

- Let's wait till you
do get the job, Ernest,

till we can afford it.

- Well, if we wait till we
can afford it, we never will.

Besides, ain't you heard?

♪ Two can starve cheap as one

Oh, come on, please.

Please, please, please.

Please, sweet-pea.

Marry me.

Come on, please?

Please marry me.

Please, please, please, please.

Please marry me.

- [Dorothy] I got to
call Miss Rothstein.

- What?


- I got to look for a
new job, too, Ernest.

I'm not gonna be living
in when we get married.

I'm gonna be spending my
nights at home with you.

[Ernest laughs and exclaims]

- She's mine!

Sweet-pea, I love you!


[bright music]


[keys jangle]

[light clicks on]

- Long time no see.

Where you been the last
two days and nights?

- Shut up.

[both laugh]

- Oh!

Nothing like the
cheery spirit of home

after a hard day's work.

- You got a job?


- No.

But I ain't living in.

- Go ahead on, girl.

- Ah, no kid, she just talks
on the telephone all day

or plays Mahjong with
her friends. [laughs]

So, tell me about
you and Walter.

- Well, we went to a nightclub,

took the day off,

went to Saratoga.

- Oh, I ain't talking
'bout that, girl.

Come on!

- I know you ain't. [laughs]

Oh, Pauline, I'm so excited,
I just got to tell you.

You know with that money I won?

I'm gonna--
- Money you won?

When 7-3-9 hit,

that is Alice's number.

- Well, Alice don't
own that number.

- Well, she don't own it,
but she always plays it.

- No, I always play it

and she never pays me back.

- Well, she would, if she could.

I mean, she was out
of work all that time

'cause she was sick.

- Now, wait a minute.

I play the number and when it
doesn't hit, I take the loss.

And now when it hits,

I'm supposed to give her
all the money back? Uh-uh!

- Es, you could at least
split the money with Alice.

- I'm going to
Saratoga for the season

and I'm gonna open
up a beauty shop.

Now, that's gonna take every
penny I got and more besides.

And Walter's gonna
stake me to the rest.

- Does Walter know
what you're doing?

Do you know what you're doing?

- I know there's money to be
made and I'm gonna get mine.

[gentle music]

- Es, you better take it slow.

You want way too much.

And it's gonna hurt
when you don't get it.

- You know that's what's
wrong with people.

They always tell themselves
no before they get started,

don't think they
deserve nothing.

Well, ain't nobody
gonna tell me no

and I sure as hell
ain't gonna tell myself.

[gentle music]

- [Radio Newsreader]
Here in Saratoga.

We were expecting rain,

but it looks like
things are gonna be dry.

They should run fast.

Just to let you know,
Marseilles is fine--

[radio clicks off]

- Ooh, girl, we so glad
to see somebody like you

finally come up to Saratoga!

Honey, I want the works.

Wash, press, curl,
French curl, manicure!

You do manicure, don't you?

- [Esther] Mm-hmm.

- Well, get to moving,
honey, 'cause time is

- Money!

[both laughing]

- Smoke.
- Uh.

Er, well, a wash
and press is $5.

French curl is 2.50 extra.

- What?

Girl, my girl in New York
don't charge me but a dollar!

What you gonna do,

guarantee my hair stays
straight for life?

[woman laughs]


- Well, if you wanna
waste four hours going

and four hours coming back,

you ought to go back to New
York and get your hair done.

But like you said,
time, is money.

- You a thief, girl.

Come up here trying to rob us

'cause you got us at your mercy!

Come on, Doris, let's
get on outta here.

Child's crazy.

- Hey, you charge the
same up here for your work

as you do in New York?

- You did it now.

- Look...

- You ain't in the business,

but you got a heart like whore.

Come on, girl, do me up!

[Doris exclaims]

[all laughing]

I can't wait! Come on,
get that, but listen,

you gonna be here
all day, honey,

'cause her hair is
nappier than mine.

- Oh, no, no, you got nice hair.

- Thank you, child.

[car horn honking nearby]

- Oh, hi.

Oh, wait a minute,
wait a minute. Dorothy.

You're not at the
Bennett's house right now.

Wait, wait a minute.

What is your last name?

- Van Roy.

- Miss Van Roy.

[diners chattering]

- I always wanted to
see Greenwich Village.

A lot of, um,

extraordinary people live here.

- I'll say.

Um, you know I don't live
too far from here myself,

if you'd like to come
over and see my place.

- Oh, oh.

Oh, no, I couldn't.

- I wasn't, I wasn't
trying to, um...

Yes, I was.

[both laugh]

- One day

I'm gonna have a
place of my own.

- You share an apartment
with someone now?

- Three other girls.

And it's not an
apartment, it's a room.

No kitchen and the
bathroom's down the hall.

But of course, I'm
only there on Thursdays

and every other Sunday.

- Right.

Sounds a little crowded.

- Well, at least I have a place.

Some girls live at the
beach or in the park

on their days off.

Oh, when it's warm
enough, I mean.

- [Radio Newsreader] Here's
a sad note for music lovers.

Drummer bandleader Chick Webb
died yesterday in Maryland

of tuberculosis of the spine.

- Chick Webb.

- [Radio Newsreader] Great loss.

- Dead.

- [Radio Newsreader]
Let's listen to

"Dreams Come True."
- I gotta go.

I gotta go call Esther.

- Who's Chick Webb?

- He was something,
wasn't he, girl?

He was colored and crippled.

- I feel worse than
when my own uncle died.

I didn't even know he was sick.

- He didn't let nothing stop
him from what he wanted to do.

D, you there?

- Yeah, um...

I'm here, Es.

So how you doing up there?

- Well, I'm doing real good.

- [Dorothy] I gotta go.

- All right, then.

Well, you tell
everybody I said hi.

- [Dorothy] I will.

- Bye-bye.

- Bye.

[coin drops]

[coins clinking]


Miss Bennett, she
gave me this coat.

She's pretty nice.

She hardly ever wore
this one at all.

- [Woman] Here, thank you.

- [voice breaking]
I want my own place.

What's to stop me? [sniffles]

I'm going get my own place!

[gentle music]

- Pauline, would you mind?

You're not leaving?

- It's seven o'clock.

- I know what time it is,

but you're supposed
to do the wash today.

- [scoffs] You had me
working here all day.

I scrubbed floors,
I washed the walls.

It's not like I
was sitting around

waiting for the hot
water heater to be fixed.

- I am not going
to argue with you.

If you leave here now,

don't bother to
come back tomorrow.

[gentle music]

- Well, if you're letting me
go, pay me what you owe me.

You should have seen her face

when I stuck my hand out
and said pay me. [laughs]

It was too cold. [laughs]

[sighs] So this new job's
gonna be a killer, huh?

- You don't have the job yet.

- [scoffs] Oh...

Any job that takes
me out the kitchen

and into a nightclub is mine.

Shoot, I'd fight
Joe Lewis for it.

- All right, Joe Lewis.

- Hunter's Lodge, huh?

On Lennox.

Calvin Hunter.

♪ I want the kind of romance
that should be strong ♪

♪ And equally as tender

♪ I only ask for the chance

♪ To know the meaning
of surrender ♪

♪ I want to be thrilled

♪ By only you, dear

♪ I want to be thrilled
by your caress ♪

♪ I want to find each dream
of mine come true, dear ♪

♪ I want to be loved

♪ I want the kind of romance
that should be strong ♪

♪ And equally as tender

♪ I only ask for the chance

♪ To know the meaning
of the word surrender ♪

♪ Oh, I want to be thrilled

♪ By only you, dear

♪ I want to be thrilled
by your caress ♪

♪ I want to find each dream
of mine come true, dear ♪

♪ I want to be loved

♪ And loved

♪ I want to be loved

- [Man] All right.

- Thanks, guys.

- [Man] No problem, no problem.

- Solid.

A real gasser.

So, you are Walter's
cousin, huh?

- Yeah.

- I don't have a
spot for a singer.

I need a hat check girl.

[Pauline sighs]

You'd be here in the club.

Next opening, be right
in line to get it.

Beats domestic work.

[musicians chattering

Well, don't kill yourself
thanking me, woman.

- I will when I have
something to thank you for.

- Little girl,

stop playing with me.

- I'm not a little girl and
when I start playing with you,

you're never gonna want me to

So, when do I start, boss?

- See you tonight.

Eight o'clock, cuz.

[Pauline laughs]

- Right, we can
have coffee here.

Come in.

Come in.

[door thuds shut]

Great apartment, huh?

And only 20 a month.

It's all yours.

- Mine?

How? Why?

- Landlord's a friend of mine.

He owed me a favor.

I introduced him to an actress
I worked with last year

and, uh, he was
very appreciative.

Plus I, uh,

I painted the place for nothing.

How do you like it?

- I don't know what to say.

The landlord, he's
willing to rent to me?

He knows I'm colored?

- It's not like that.

This is the Village.

This is your place
if you want it.


- I'll get it.

Well, since this is my place.

I guess I can find everything.

- You don't know how many times

I've gone over that
kiss in my mind.

I was rehearsing what I was
gonna say.

- This is something
I didn't figure on.

- I can't stop
thinking about you.

That day I took you to
MacDougal Street, the cafe.

I waited outside for
two hours, it was cold.



You have to know how I feel.

- I guess I do.

But, but, I gotta
think about this.

I just can't take
up with a white man

without thinking about it.

It scares me.

- I know you gotta
be real nervous.

Let me tell you something.

I don't give a damn about
what anybody thinks.

I don't care.

- Well, I do.

No decent colored man would
have anything to do with me

if I mess with you.

That shocks you, doesn't it?

Well, look at this.

Me teaching the
teacher something.

- I'm gonna hound you.

Every time you turn around,

every time you go to the
market or take a walk,

I'll be there.

I'll just make myself
part of your life.

I'll win you over 'cause
I'm a very winning fellow.

I don't take no for an--

- Can't you stop
talking no time?

[gentle music]

This is not the time to talk.

[gentle music]

[guests chattering and laughing]

- Y'all waiting?

How you like my chicken?

- Hey, Petunia.

Thank you for coming.

- Thanks for having me.

[guests chattering]

- Hey, Tony, looking good.

- I dig this!

Four rooms all to
yourself and the Village!

Girl, that takes nerve.

How you afford all this?

It's a hard place.

- Time payments, mostly.

- Hm.

This is a hard place.


Hunter, ain't this
pad copacetic?

- Oh, well, mm.

- We're gonna have a toast
to the bride and groom.

- Walter, you do it.

- [Man] All right, okay.

- [Woman] That's a good idea.

- Yeah.

Come on over here, honey-bun.

- Oh, look at this great couple.

May you have all you want,
may you want all you have.

And if not, may you
always have each other.

[all chattering]

- [Woman] To the
bride and groom!

- [Woman] Congratulations!

- Hey, hey!

Hey! I thought this was
supposed to be a party.

I wanna dance!

- Dorothy, you ain't even here
most of the time

to enjoy this place.

- I know.

- Well, you're working
yourself to death

for something you
can't even enjoy.

- I bet it's worth it for
the time you do spend here,

huh, Dorothy?

- Well, you still
gonna be living in

now that you're married?

- Well, no.

Wouldn't be no point
in being married

if we only saw each
other once a week--

- Well, see, that's what
I'm saying about this setup.

Just don't seem to
be much point in it.

- The point is it's what I want.

- And the point
is, you're jealous.

[guests chattering]

- You need some help?

I'm sorry, okay?

I am a little jealous.

Everybody's moving on
and I'm a hat check girl

sitting in a closet.

- That Calvin seems
like a really nice guy.

- Well, he ain't no Dark Gabl.

He's okay.

[both chuckle]

- You know where the
Hotel Theresa is?

- Well, sure, yeah.

It's the nicest colored
hotel in Harlem.

Never thought I'd see the
inside of it, though. [laughs]

Thanks, man.

- Man, I might get
married soon myself.

- Oh!

- You can tighten me up.

- Thanks, man.


- [Walter] Yeah.

[guests chattering]

- How you making out
in that greasy spoon?

- I can't complain.

- You got to get a
liquor license, man.

People always drink.

Even if they kids is starving.

This nightclub is
easiest racket I ever had

and it's legal. [laughs]

That's the killer.

All right, so I had to
spread a little jack around

to get the license,

but that's the way it goes.

It sure beats frying up neck
bones for a bunch of squares.

[Pauline laughs]

[guests chattering]

And I'm making out pretty good

with that cousin of yours, too.

- Who?

Oh, yeah.

Now, you know, you and her
would make a nice couple.

- I ain't coming
on that tab, man.

She's fine, but--

- I don't know, man,

your nose looks a little
open to me, brother.

[guests chattering]

- Well, I think I might
be looking at my ticket

out of Franklin Avenue.

- Stop that, Pauline.

- Man.

Man, oh, man, that
Walter is some guy, huh?

- Mm-hmm.

I wonder what made him do it.

He don't hardly know us.

- Just a nice guy, I guess.


Boy, he's something crazy for
that Esther, though, ain't he?

- Uh-huh.

- I bet they'll be
getting married soon.

Alice, um,

some things I'm not
real good at saying.

See, I ain't had a lot
of girlfriends before.

You about the nicest
person I ever met.

The prettiest.

So I don't want
you to be scared.

- I ain't scared.

- 'Cause you know, I might
get a little carried away.

And I want to tell you that...

Oh, God, I love you.

Mm, I love you so much.


I know women feel a little
different about these things.

- How do you think women feel?

- Well, they don't...

Well, I think that maybe they,

they gotta get used to it.

Don't you? [chuckles]

- I don't know.

I ain't scared, though.

Maybe a little nervous, but

I could never be scared of you.

[romantic music]

- Well, I guess what I'm
trying to say, sweet-pea,

is we got all the
time in the world.

♪ Let's build a
stairway to the stars ♪

♪ And climb that
stairway to the stars ♪

♪ With love beside
us to fill a song ♪

♪ We'll hear the
sound of violins ♪

♪ Out yonder where
the blue begins ♪

♪ The moon'll guide us
as we go drifting along ♪

♪ Can't we sail away

♪ On a lazy daisy petal

♪ Over the rim of the hill

♪ Can't we sail away

♪ On a little dream and settle

♪ High on the
crest of a thrill ♪

♪ Let's build a
stairway to the stars ♪

♪ A lovely

- Why didn't you call? I
could have picked you up.

♪ Stairway to the stars

- The racetrack closed yesterday

and I got here this afternoon.

Baby, I've been
looking for a place,

'cause I'm not going
back to Brooklyn,

I'm not going back
to Larraine's,

I'm gonna open my own shop,
baby, right here in Harlem.

- Why couldn't you say "I
missed you" or "hello" before--

- Oh, I missed you baby!

You know that. How you
think I knew you were here?

I went looking for
you at the cafe.

You being here is perfect.

There ain't but two
people I wanted to see.


And Ella.

Dance with me, baby.

Just dance with me.

["Stairway to the Stars"]

♪ Can't we sail away

♪ On a lazy daisy petal

♪ Over the rim of the hill

♪♪ Can't we sail away

♪ On a little dream

♪ And settle high on
the crest of a thrill ♪

She's gonna make it.

Even without Chick, she's
gonna keep the band together,

I know.

♪ Build a stairway
to the stars ♪

- She's gonna make it.

♪ A lovely, lovely
stairway to the stars ♪

♪ It would be heaven
to climb to heaven ♪

♪ With you

[crowd applauding]

- Well, now that I
got my own place,

we all can get
together more often.

- Ernest is working again.

- Again?

Ain't he been working
all this time?

- Well, he lost that job a
little bit after we got married.

But now he's on WPA,

so with him working steady
and me getting some day work,

maybe y'all can come over
for dinner or something.

- But where is Dorothy?

How come we never
see her no more, huh?

- You just want to
throw it up to her

that you got an apartment, too.

- That's right.

I ain't killing myself
with no time payments,

no layaways neither.

- Sounds like you got your
mojo working on Calvin.

- Es, when you gonna
open up your shop?

- Next week.

Me and two other operators.

Except they're renting.

The shop is mine.

- Well, let's go to my place.

Come on.

[people chattering on street]

Now, my apartment ain't
as nice as Dorothy's,

but then again, I ain't
paying for it. [laughs]

- Oh, you're paying
for it, girl.


[Pauline laughing]

- That son of a bitch!


[bills rustling]

You ain't funny, Hunter.

- Wasn't supposed to be funny.

It's supposed to teach
you to behave yourself.

When I'm footing the tab,

I don't never want to see
you beating up your chops

with no nigga but me.

- Well, obviously you ain't
footing the tab no more, huh?

- Baby, as quick as the
man took that mess out,

he can bring it right back.

[Pauline scoffs]

- He don't have
to bring it back--

- Whoa, whoa, whoa.

- I am not a whore!

I've been living on my own
since I was 16 years old.

I could have been
living off men all along

instead of doing housework,

sharing a tiny room
with three roommates,

three girl roommates.

- All right, I um...

I'll call the store
first thing tomorrow

and have them bring
the stuff back, okay?

- It don't mean nothing
if you've got such a

low opinion--
- Look, baby, baby,

I want to.

- Suit yourself.

- Come on, cuz.

And I got a singing
spot for you, too,

starting next week.

- [tuts] You know I'm
crazy about you, huh?

- Yeah.

Show me.

[knocking at door]

- Who is it?

- [Walter] Walter.

- Mm!

Hi, baby.

- I ought to wear your
behind out. [door slams]

- What's wrong with you?

Are you crazy?

- You send these things
out to Larraine's customers

and you ask me
what's wrong with me?

You know, Larraine's one of
the strongest people I know.

I can't remember the last
time I seen that lady cry

until you sent out
these damn things.

- I just sent out cards
saying I was opening my shop.

- To Larraine's customers.

You are stealing
Larraine's customers.

After everything
she's done for you.

How could you do that?

- Larraine's customers are
the only people I know.

Who else I'm 'a send 'em to?

This is just business.

Well, for God's sake, Walter,

if it ain't enough nappy heads
in Harlem for both of us,

I just don't know
what to tell you.

I'm sorry.

I'm sorry, babe.

You know I didn't mean it.

Well, I love Larraine.

I would never do anything
to hurt her, you know that.

Oh, Walter, don't be mad at me.


I'm gonna get dressed right now

and I'm gonna go
talk to her myself--

- No, no, no.

No, no, no, listen.

- Hm?

- I'll do it.

It's better coming from me.

I know how to talk to Larraine.

- Mm.

- You better not do
anything like this again.

- No.

- I'm serious.

- Mm.

[rain falling]

[Alice coughing]

[door clicks open]

[Alice coughing]

- Hi.

- [Ernest] Hi.

- How'd it go today?

- I ain't find nothing.

And I ain't eating this.

- I'm so tired of you.

- I ain't eating no
white folks' leftovers.

- Ernest, meals are
included with my pay.

I bring it home so I
can share with you.

I ain't digging the garbage
for it, I ain't begged for it,

I earned it--

- I ain't eating no
white man's scraps.

- Well, what you gonna eat then?

There ain't nothing else here.

[silverware clattering]

Pauline invited us to New
Year's Eve at Hunter's Lodge.

I want to go.

Do you hear me?

- I heard.

- Well?

- You kill me.

You sit here about to eat
what the ofays throw out and

you talking about going out
nightclubbing somewhere?

- It ain't gonna cost
you nothing, Ernest,

if that's what you
worrying about.

That Calvin Hunter,
he's gonna pay for it.

You gonna sit here and tell me

I can't go somewhere
that's for free?

- So you want to go
sponge off your friends?

- I don't care!

I want to go!

If I wait for you to
take me someplace,

I'll be as long getting
there as I was getting grown.

- Don't you think I would like
to be able to take you out?

Hell, baby, I would like
to be able to feed you!


- Well, what's wrong with you?

How come you can't
hold a job no time?

[dramatic music]

- Well, that took
you long enough,

but you finally
said it, didn't you?

- Ernest.

I didn't mean it, Ernest!

[door slams]

[gentle music]

- Hi.

I was walking downtown

and I went in this
place for some coffee

and it turns out the night
dishwasher never showed up.

[gentle music]

Maybe you could buy something.

A new dress or something for
when we go out with Pauline.

I'm trying, Alice.

I swear to God, I'm trying.

- I know you are.

- I've just been so
worried about you.

You're not feeling well.

You shouldn't be working.

I want to take care of you,

I want to be a real
husband to you,

be as important to
you as you are to me.

- You are.

[dramatic music]

Nothing else matters if
you stop caring about me.

[camera snaps]

- Oh!

[blows paper horn]

- I'm so glad to see
1939 get the hell out!

- Yeah!

- The '40s has got to be better!

- 1939 did all right by me.

- No, no, it's
going to get better.

You know why?

'Cause I've got some
big plans for 1940.

- Ooh!

- How you doing?

- I'm okay, you?

Esther, where's Dorothy?

- She's coming.

- Anyone want to hear about
my big plans for 1940?

- [Calvin] I do.

- When is Dorothy
gonna get here?

- First, I'm gonna get
myself a liquor license

from a friend, from
an acquaintance who
will go unnamed.

- She said something
about being late.

- Are you paying attention?

I don't think she's
paying attention.

- Yes, baby, I'm
paying attention.

- Is she paying attention?

- Now, you're trying to
get a license from Calvin,

who doesn't want to
be called by name.

- How come you want
to call me names?

- Calvin.
- Man, will you shut up?

No one's calling you names.
Now, what I'm gonna do is,

I'm gonna turn the
cafe into a nightclub

when I make enough money.

- [Pauline] Mm!

- [Calvin] All right.

- Might ask this chick
I know to marry me.

- Oh!

- [Calvin] Uh-oh.

- Oh!
- That's nice.

- Well, who is she?

Anybody I know?

- No, just some old chick
always talking 'bout

money, money, money!

- Oh!
- That's you!

- [Esther] That's nobody I know.

- They all talk
about that, Walter.

- Oh, come on!

[all laughing]

- Not my sweet-pea.

[all laughing]

- Hi.

I'm sorry we're late.

I want you all to
meet Bill Jeremy.

That's Esther and
Walter over there

and that's Pauline and Calvin.

Calvin owns this club.

And that's Alice
and Ernest Johnson.

- How you doing?

- [Bill] Hi.

- How you doing?

- I'm all right.

- Pleased to meet you.

- [Bill] And the same.

- Well, you just
missed the picture.

We just got our picture taken.

- Well, we can just
take another one.



- Don't strain yourself, man.

- How come?

- Mm.

[Calvin laughs]

[quietly] Bernice.

- Calvin, Calvin, listen, man.

What about my
liquor license, man?

Now, I have given you enough
graft to paper all the offices

in City Hall, man.

- Graft?

I thought you just
applied for a license.

- [laughs] A white man
just pays for a license.

Nigga's gotta pay
through his nose.

And he just pays
and pays and pays.

- Yeah, well, uh, [chuckles]

it's funny, 'cause I've had to
deal with this trouble myself

because I'm colored
just like you, man.

- You tellin' me you a spade?

- Well, he's like Adam
Powell, baby, you know.

- Or, uh, Walter
White from the NAACP.

He's very light.

- Yes, quite fair, mm.

- Mm-hmm.

- Okay, in that case, then,

I'll just follow and be me.

Bernice! [laughs]

Hey, Bernice!

Come here, baby.

I want you to...

Want you to have
another picture took.

Everybody get in close.

- [Bernice] All
right, everybody.

- Close!

- [Bernice] Look
this way, smile!

- Oh, wait, hold on, hold
on, hold on. [camera snaps]

["It Don't Mean a Thing [If
It Ain't Got That Swing]"]

[Pauline scatting]

♪ It makes no difference
if it's sweet or hot ♪

♪ Just give that rhythm
everything you've got whoa ♪

♪ It don't mean a thing

♪ If it ain't got that swing

♪ Oh doo wop doo wop doo wop
doo wop doo wop doo wop dah ♪

♪ It makes no difference
if it's sweet or hot ♪

♪ Hey yeah

♪ Just give that rhythm
everything you got ♪

♪ Oh, it don't mean a thing

♪ If it ain't got that swing

♪ Doo wop doo wop doo wop doo
bop doo wop doo wop doo wah ♪

- Honey, a lot of people
with TB get better.

Yeah, my little brother
had it when he was a kid.

You gotta stop working
at the laundry.

- What are we supposed
to do for money?

- Alice,

I'm gonna join the CCC.

I don't know what else I can do.

- Uh-uh.
- Sweet-pea, listen.

Listen, at least it'd be steady.

It's just like the Army.

Honey, as long as I stay in,

they'll be sending
more money to you.

- I don't want you leaving me.

- Baby, it's not like I'm
leaving you, sweet-pea.

I ain't really leaving.
- It'll be just like it.

You ain't gonna be here.

- I can't do nothing for
you while I'm here, baby.

I'm more good for you
if I'm away from you.

[Alice sniffling]

[knocking at door]

[door clicks open]

- How come you always knock?

[door thuds shut]

- Do I look any, uh, different?


Same hearty physique.

Same classic profile.

Same boyish grin.

Same old Bill Jeremy.

- Okay, okay, I give.

What's new?

- Oh, nothing.

It's just that these
magnificent features

are being screen-tested
in Hollywood next week!

- You gonna be in movies?

- Yeah, if they like me!

Talent scout from Warner
saw me in "Forest"

and next week I'm on my way.

A lot of actors wouldn't go.

Dedicated to the
theater, the saps.

This is the greatest

It's the best break I've had.

You don't seem too happy
with our good fortune.

- Your good fortune.

And I'm very happy for you.

- Hey.

Our good fortune.

You're coming with me.

Dorothy, you are coming with me?

- No.

I'm not.

- We'll get married.

- I never heard you talk
about marrying me before.

Look, you taught
me a lot of things.

Now I'm gonna
teach you a saying.

Keep the niggers in their place.

This is my place, right here.

- Like hell it is.

Hey, nothing's to
stop us from being

just the way we are right now.

We'll be in California
instead of New York.

What's the difference?

- Oh, yeah, and you'll
have one of those big,

fancy Hollywood parties and
I'll dress up like the maid.

Won't nobody ever
know the difference!

- No, I never treated
you like that!

- You didn't have to!

- I never felt that way!

- That's the way it is.

You come here and you pretend

on Thursdays and
every other Sunday.

- I love you.

I wasn't pretending.

- Yes, you were.

You were pretending that
there's nothing wrong

about loving me.

And that's okay.

But don't you dare try to
take it outside this room.

What you gotta be is realistic.

That's it.

And the only place you
don't have to be realistic

is right here.

- That's a lot of crap.

We can do anything we
want and I want you.

Look, I'm still gonna call you.

I'm gonna write you,
I'm gonna badger you

just like I always used...

[dramatic music]

I never once looked
ahead to a time

when you and I
wouldn't be together.

[dramatic music]

- Nothing lasts forever.

Especially nothing like us.

Even I knew that.

[dramatic music]

[telephones ringing]

- Why didn't Ernest or
the hospital contact us?

We could have done something.

We could have taken care of her.

- Well, I'm here and I'll
take care of her now.

[telephone ringing nearby]

- [Nurse] All right, I have
that. Now, have you had it too?

- Yeah, I had it myself.

- I see.

Alice Johnson was here.

Died two weeks ago, buried
by the City of New York.

[telephone rings nearby]

- Well, why weren't
we contacted?

Why didn't anybody
know about this?

- There's no record
of relatives here.

- Well, she has a husband.

He's away in the CCC.

- All right, then.

Do you know where his camp is?

- No.

- Where his company is?

- Uh, Ernest...

- Look, I got this
letter from her.

Now, you must have known
that she wasn't alone.

I mean, she must have sent a
letter to her husband, too.

- How are we supposed to
know who she writes to?

We get hundreds of cases a week.

We see it all the time.

No next of kin, no correct
address, no family doctor.

- No money.

"Dear Esther,

"The Board of Health
come and got me.

"I don't know where Ernest is.

"How come I haven't
heard from him?

[Esther sniffles]

[letter rustles]

"I get money, but
no word. [sniffles]

"Tell everybody where I am.

"This is why I do not call them.

"Come and see me if you can.

"Love, Alice."

- I can't stand thinking
about her being all alone.

At a house.

At that lousy charity
ward at Rikers.

- She got sick.

You can't blame nobody for that.

- Yeah, I can.

- Well, you definitely
can't blame Ernest.

That man loved her.

It wasn't Ernest's fault.

It was the life she led on
account of being with him.

On account of being poor.

- Love killed her, I guess.

[Pauline sighs]

[vacuum whirring]

- Dorothy.

Dorothy, I think you
better come out here!

- Hey, girl.

Big sister, looks like
your poor relatives

have come to stay! [laughs]

- Hey, yourself.

Where's Clifton?

- Child, he's long gone.

I came to seek my
fortune in the big city.

We ain't gonna cause
you no problems,

take up hardly no room at all.

I don't know how to
get to your place.

You gonna have to give me a key.

[jazzy music]

[crowd chattering]

- [Esther] Well?

- It's gonna be a
little while yet.

- It's already been an
awful long time, Walter.

Are you sure you
can trust Calvin?

- It took him five
years to get his license

and he had all those connections

from being a numbers runner.

- Well, why is it so hard
to get a liquor license?

- Why is it so
hard being colored?

You tell me.

90% of the joints up in Harlem

is some spade fronting
for a white man.

They don't let us have nothing.

That's why I'm gonna fool 'em.

Because see, this
license is gonna be mine.

And the bread from it is
gonna be all mine, too.

Calvin got one thing right.

Folks will buy booze when
they can't buy nothing else.

[jazzy music]

[motorcars rumbling]

[horn honks]

- [Driver] You're gonna end up
being a hood ornament, girl!

[traffic rumbling]

[people chattering]

- [Bill] Dorothy.


You have to know how I feel.

This is your place, you want it.

- [Pauline] You're
working yourself to death

for something you
can't even enjoy.

[man laughing]

[bright music playing]

- Oh, hey, girl, where you been?

- [Dorothy] Movies.

- Oh, you know Nelson and, uh,

this is Lucille.

- Hi.

- [Cora] And oh,
that's Rose in there.

I'll get those dishes later.

There's some beer.

[jazzy music]

[tense music]

[Dorothy moaning]

[Dorothy muttering indistinctly]

- Hey!

[Dorothy screaming]

[dramatic music]

[Dorothy screaming]

[dramatic music]

- [Nurse] Here, let
me fix that for you.

- [Woman] That would be nice.

- [Nurse] All right, can you...

There you go, just
lean up a little bit.

All right, how's that?

- [Woman] That's fine.

- [Nurse] All right.

You seem to be doing fine.

I'll check on you.

- I don't know what to
do about her apartment.

I can't afford it.

And her things, she has,

she has some really nice things.

What am I gonna do
with her things? [sobs]


[traffic rumbling outside]

[bluesy music]

[jazz music]

[Pauline scatting]

- I was sure sorry to hear
about your friend, uh,

Dorothy, ain't it?

- Mm-hmm.

- Pauline tells me you two
come to New York together.

- Yeah.

- Yeah, that's the way it goes.

- I want the license.

The liquor license.

I want it.

- You gonna start on me, too?

Walter knows I'm good for it.

- I didn't say nothing about
Walter. I want the license.

And I'll do anything
I have to to get it.

[jazz music]

- I had a feeling about you.

Walter's always big
time talking about you,

but I kind of thought. [laughs]

Maybe I don't want money.

- Well, I had a
feeling about you, too.

I never thought
you wanted money.

[jazz music]

Does Walter have to know
about this part of the deal?

- Wouldn't be much
point to it if he did.

[all chattering]

- [laughing] You something else!

[all chattering]

[door bangs open]

- You got it all, huh?

You had to have him, too.

- [Esther] You want to talk
about this some other time--

- No, I don't want to talk
about it some other time!

You couldn't have cared
nothing about him, so why?

- I don't think you want
to talk about this now.

- I think you better
answer me now!

- Oh, you want an answer?

- Yes!

- Well, just look up and
down every street in Harlem.

- Look at what?

- Winos, whores, old
people shouting to God

or talking to themselves,
raggedy and poor,

asking for a handout.

It's not gonna happen to me.

- [scoffs] Money,
that's all you see.

That is all you care about.

- I'm not gonna end up
like Alice and Dorothy,

waiting for some man
to take care of me.

- Oh, you got the nerve to
stand there and talk about Alice

after what you did
with that number!

- I didn't do nothing
wrong, the money was mine.

I played the number.

- It would've made
such a difference

if you'd given them
part of the money.

- Well, I didn't!

- [scoffs] Damn.

You're just like my grandmother.

There was nothing she
wouldn't do for a dollar.

And when she got old and
played out, she sold liquor,

and that's why she
kept me around.

So men would come
up and buy liquor.

My own grandmother
tried to pimp me!

She was low and she was rotten

and I thought she was the
lousiest bitch I ever met.

Till I come up against you.

[door thuds shut]

[gentle jazz music]

- Yeah!

- Really?

- Took her hat off.

[both laughing]

She took her hat off!

- Calvin!

- Yeah?

[punch lands]

[mirror shatters]

- [Woman] Oh, my goodness!

- [Man] Oh, Calvin!

You all right?

You all right?

Hey, somebody get in here!

[all chattering]

[bluesy music]

[door bangs open]

[door slams]

[slap lands]

[bluesy music]

[radio cracks]

[door slams]

[somber music]

[passerby chattering]

- [Man] You wanna go over there?

- [Woman] Yeah.

- [Man] They said
they're gonna be there.

Think they'll show up?

- [Woman] Yeah, that's
a good idea. [laughs]

- I'll never forgive LaGuardia
for shutting down the Savoy.

But I read where it's
gonna open up real soon.

You know, you were right
about Harlem nightclubs.

They've had it.

I'm doing okay with the
liquor store, though.

You hear from Pauline?

- Uh, she was doing
domestic work again.

She's singing now,
over in Jersey, USO.

You know, when you
first started changing,

I used to think it was cute.

Maybe I could have stopped it,

helped you out.

- I didn't change, I've
always been this way.

You just never could see it.

Oh, Walter.


- I used to love you so much.

[Esther chuckles]

I couldn't get enough.

[Esther chuckles]

That's over now, Esther.

[dramatic music]

[gentle music]

- What you doing here?

[people chattering]

- [Pauline] Thank
you so much, I am.

[gentle music]

[crowd clapping]

- How you doing?

You look great.

- You look like money.

- I'm doing okay.

I talked to D.

She asked about you.

- How's she doing?

- Okay.

Well, not so hot.

She's still not her whole self,

but at least she's at home

where her mother
can take care of her

instead of that hospital.

I had to get her out of there.

- It was really nice
to you to do that.

I meant to keep up
with her and, uh...

But I just can't.

- You hear from Calvin?

I don't see Calvin no more.

I stopped seeing him after he...

- After you got what you wanted.

- I don't see Walter
no more either.

But I'll get him back.

Pauline, Calvin didn't
mean nothing to me

and I didn't mean
nothing to him.

I just have to talk
to Walter again.

Explain it to him.

He's so crazy about me.

I just have to
make it up to him.

I'll get him back,
I know I will.

I just need one more chance.

[drum beats nearby]

Well, maybe I'll
see you sometime.

- Maybe.

- [Woman] Well, you look
handsome in your uniform!

- [Man] Let me buy you a drink.

[crowd applauding]

- [Woman] Yeah!

- [Woman] Yes!

Oh, yeah!

["Stairway to the Stars"]

♪ Let's build a
stairway to the stars ♪

♪ And climb that
stairway to the stars ♪

♪ With love beside us

♪ To fill the night

♪ With a song

♪ We'll hear the
sound of violins ♪

♪ Out yonder where
the blue begins ♪

♪ The moon will guide us

♪ As we go drifting along

♪ Can't we sail away

♪ On a lazy daisy petal

♪ Over the rim of the hill

♪ Can't we sail away

♪ On a little dream

♪ And settle high on
the crest of a thrill ♪

♪ Let's build a
stairway to the stars ♪

♪ A lovely stairway
to the stars ♪

♪ It would be heaven

♪ To climb to heaven

♪ With you

["It Don't Mean a Thing [If
It Ain't Got That Swing]"]

♪ It makes no difference

♪ If it's sweet or hot hey

♪ Just give that rhythm

♪ Everything you've got

♪ Whoa

♪ It don't mean a thing

♪ If it ain't got that swing

♪ Doo wop doo wop doo wop doo
wop doo wop wop doo wah dah ♪

[dramatic music]