Two musical producers struggle to get enough investors to finance their latest show. One potential backer agrees to invest on one condition: the two producers must find an additional investor to co-finance their show. The producers convince an associate to impersonate a 'Madame' to pose as the other female investor. Everything goes as planned, until the real Madame shows up.
2015.167.1.1ab: 16mm black and white films.
Jim Walton (Elwood Smith) and his partner, Harry Diggs (Duke Williams), as two aspiring producers who try to convince a Chicago businessman to back their musical show.
In a Harlem apartment building, Jim Walton listens to Slam Stewart and his band, which he plans to feature in his new show along with female impersonator Bumpsie. Jim is in love with Cristola Cummings, whose wealthy father, believing that Jim is a successful producer, has promised to put up half the money for the new show if Parisian Madame Deborah will supply the rest of the funds. Cummings arrives unexpectedly from Chicago with Cristola and her sister Francine, hoping to meet Madame Deborah. Attempting to maintain a pretense of wealth, Jim and his partner, Harry Diggs, ask one of their actors to impersonate a butler. Their ruse is almost exposed when their landlord, Mr. Donaldson, demands that they pay their back rent, but Jim manages to convince Cummings that Donaldson is an actor in a play called "I Want My Room Rent." Learning that Madame Deborah will not arrive for a few days, Harry persuades Bumpsie to impersonate her by promising to star him in the new show. Later, when she is alone with Jim, Cristola scolds him for not writing, but embraces him when he honestly admits he does not have the Long Island mansion he claimed. While Francine gets to know Harry, Cummings converses with Bumpsie. Cummings, who is attracted to Bumpsie, hints that he would like to marry again for the sake of his daughters. Meanwhile, the real Madame Deborah arrives and introduces herself as "Mrs. Martin." Seeing that she is wealthy, Donaldson is pleased to rent a room to her. From Gaston, who has followed her from Paris, Donaldson learns that Madame Deborah has "oodles of money" and suddenly takes an interest in Bumpsie, who he thinks is Madame Deborah. Donaldson then plans a garden party in Madame Deborah's honor and offers his actor residents free rent for a week, plus ten dollars, for providing the entertainment. When Cummings learns that his daughters want to marry Jim and Harry, he objects at first, but later agrees to give his consent if Madame Deborah approves, as he will announce his engagement to her that night. Coincidentally, both Gaston and Donaldson also intend to announce their engagements to Madame Deborah that night. During the garden party, Bumpsie invites his two suitors to a rent party for Jim and Harry, explaining it is a rehearsal of a show titled "The Rent Party." When Bumpsie dances in a scanty ballet costume, Cummings, thinking that "Madame Deborah" is exposing herself to other men, jealously stalks out. Escaping from pranksters, Bumpsie encounters the real Madame Deborah, who hides him in her room, where he falls asleep. Outraged because he thinks that the whole building is being lured by Bumpsie's charms, Cummings decides to return to Chicago with his daughters. When Cristola confesses that she knows Jim is broke, but admires the way he has kept up his courage, the real Madame Deborah vows to intercede with Cummings. Although he has sworn to avoid women, Cummings is immediately attracted by Madame Deborah's flirtations. Meanwhile, two French thugs kidnap Bumpsie after they, too, mistake him for Madame Deborah. When Gaston removes the cover over Bumpsie's head, in preparation for a kiss, he recoils in horror. Bumpsie challenges him to a fight and then, still dressed in a ballet costume, runs away. When a dropped handkerchief is found in Madame Deborah's room, Cummings and Donaldson think she has been kidnapped. Meanwhile, the rent party erupts in a fight. Gaston threatens Madame Deborah and Cummings, and Jim punches him. Later Bumpsie reappears without his disguise, and Madame Deborah reveals her true identity. Cummings and Madame Deborah decide to marry, and all ends happily when they agree to back Jim's show.
Source: AFI Catalog of Feature Films. Accessed on August 9, 2016 (http://www.afi.com/members/catalog/DetailView.aspx?s=&Movie=25096)
A black-and-white photograph of jazz pianist and composer Mary Lou Williams performing in New York City. Williams is photographed from the right as she sits at her piano. An out of focus mic stand is in the foreground. Williams wears a light colored sleeveless dress with a brooch pinned on it. Her eyes are closed as she plays.
silver and photographic gelatin on photographic paper
H x W (Image): 8 15/16 × 11 1/2 in. (22.7 × 29.2 cm)
H x W (Sheet): 11 × 13 15/16 in. (27.9 × 35.4 cm)
gelatin silver prints
A black and white photograph of Erroll Garner and Mary Lou Williams at a piano. Garner sits to the left of the photograph at the keys of the piano. Williams stands to the right of the photograph with her hands atop the piano. The front right corner has a handwritten inscription in black ink: . The back of the photograph has caption information written by hand in pencil.