In August 1948 Hollywood premiered "Miracle in Harlem" at the Apollo Theater in Harlem for the segregated African American audience. The film opens with a church holding its service in Aunt Hattie's home because she is afflicted with paralysis. Aunt Hattie, her niece Julie Weston and her boyfriend operated a family candy manufacturing business known for its original and delicious recipes. A scheming candy manufacturing magnate, Albert Marshall, steals the small candy company owned and operated by the church going family and sends his no-count son, Jim Marshall, to manage it. The tycoon's secretary conspires to take over the big candy company, and the whole scheme comes undone through a crafty trick of the grandmotherly church-lady, Aunt Hattie. Stepin Fetchit brilliantly performs his routine late in the film. Many critics have decried him for agreeing to play roles as the buffoonish African American, but his routine late in the film shows his genius as a performer. One can only wish that he had had a chance to unleash his talents.
Harlem audiences praised the film for its portrayal of mainstream Harlem life and the role Christian values in seeing them through the harshness of segregation, depression, war and crime in Harlem.
We will be playing clips of the movie this week.