25 February 2008 | tavm
Amazing Grace was a nice showcase for Moms Mabley before her untimely passing
In continuing my reviews of African-Americans in film in chronological order for Black History Month, we're once again at 1974 with the second movie in a row that has a supporting role for Rosalind Cash after her appearance in Uptown Saturday Night, Amazing Grace. This movie starred comedienne Moms Mabley as Grace in her only lead role before her untimely death a year later. Though it takes a while, you do get used to the various ways Ms. Mabley expresses herself whether she's happy, sad, or angry. I especially liked her scenes as a maid sneaking behind the current mayor played by Dolph Sweet as he's talking on the telephone and her call to a Clarine played by a welcome movie veteran, Butterfly McQueen at her most endearingly scatterbrained. Another veteran, Stepin Fetchit, also appears as himself as part of Moms' family saying goodbye to her on the train in a clear voice much different from his usual characterization as slow-witted and slow-speaking. Slappy White as Mabley's neighbor Forthwith Wilson is also good especially when he does some of his tap dancing. Moses Gunn brings some depth as the Mayor-to-be Welton J. Waters who learns some lessons from Grace with wife Creola (Cash) also getting a handful from her to Creola's eventual delight. Among white players besides Sweet, James Karen as the crooked campaign manager Annenberg also impresses. Two young adult black players-George Lee Miles and Gary Bolling-also appeared later that year in The Taking of Pelham One Two Three. And, to complete my mention of black people involved here, director Stan Lathan is the father of actress Sanaa Lathan and producer/writer Matt Robinson (the original Gordon on "Seseme Street") is the father of actress Holly Robinson Peete. Not quite hilarious but pretty amusing comedy that should at least put a smile on your face even as you see Ms. Mabley at the end in her final close-up as we watch her for the last time...