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Been Rich All My Life
Been Rich All My Life
Actors: Marion Coles, Cleo Hayes, Fay Ray, Elaine Ellis (III), Berte Lou Wood
Genres: Special Interests, Educational, Documentary
NR     2006     1hr 20min

Meet the Silver Belles, five tap dancers who performed in 1930?s Harlem at the famed Apollo and Cotton Club, with legendary band leaders like Cab Calloway and Duke Ellington. They have rich stories to tell about the histor...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Marion Coles, Cleo Hayes, Fay Ray, Elaine Ellis (III), Berte Lou Wood
Genres: Special Interests, Educational, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Dance, Educational, Documentary
Studio: First Run Features
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen
DVD Release Date: 11/21/2006
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 1hr 20min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Fabulous Ladies - Fabulous Film
S. Kienle | Connecticut, USA | 10/21/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I saw this film in a premier showing with the film maker and three of the Silver Belles present. The film was most entertaining and touching as you journey back in time with these wonderful, fiesty women. Their lives have been filled with struggles, triumphs and finally, well deserved recongnition. The audience laughed at their wit and marvelled at the story of their lives. They started their careers as very young women who were given a shot at show business in the 1930's in the hot spots of Harlem during it's Golden Age. The Cotton Club and the Apollo Theatre were their homes for many years. All of them give great credit to those who taught them 'the ropes'. They are still busy performing and passing along the heart of dance to the young dancers who are coming up today. I felt privileged to be taken on their journey and found myself, along with the rest of the audience, laughing at their tales of the old days and being touched with sadness at their losses and struggles. Better than being called 'survivors' they can be called triumphant and heroic. The sound track was wonderful and had everyone's feet tapping along. If you like dance, music, history, biography, show business or just a great story, I think you will thoroughly enjoy this film."
Been Rich All My Life
Joan E. Miller | Edmonds, WA. USA | 01/15/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Energizing and encouraging! Wonderful peek into the history of tap and how great to keep going no matter how old one gets. I look at this over and over again. These black women dancers had to put up with a lot, but they are not dwelling on how hard it was. They are continuing on and teaching all of us about the wonders and joys of tap dancing. Even the spiciness is done with class."
Inspirational And Life Affirming
Susan K. Schoonover | Boulder, CO | 05/26/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)

"BEEN RICH ALL MY LIFE is the story of five women who ranged in age from 84-96 at the time of filming. These ladies were chorus girls at the storied Harlem nightclubs such as The Savoy, Cotton Club and Apollo Theater during their heyday in the 1930's and 40s. Despite their advanced ages the women perform together as a group known as "The Silver Belles" and retain their senses of humor, love for performing and zest for life. The film lets us experience the decline and eventual demise of Bertye Lou, the oldest and perhaps sassiest of the group, and celebrate her life with her friends at a lively wake. We also see first hand the universal realities of old age all the women are realizing. Some history of Harlem and African American struggles in the 20th century are taught along the way but the former chorus girls and their personal lives remain the central theme. The movie is a bit unfocused at times but is still an inspirational story of the need to embrace life no matter what your current age or circumstance."
Silver Belles Rock!
L. Udell | San Rafael, CA USA | 01/27/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I love tap dance and used to do it myself, so this documentary really resonated with me. Loved seeing the old photos of the women as young dancers at the Cotton Club...and seeing them still hoofing into their 80's. It was very heart warming. I wish there were more old footage, and a little less of them riding the bus and hailing cabs. But overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the film and recommend it to anyone who loves dance.
Don't miss the dance lesson--learn the Shim Sham Shimmy!"