Collection Search

Sepia Cinderella

16mm motion picture film of Sepia Cinderella

Directed by
Leonard, Arthur H., 1904 - 1956
Written by
Valentini, Vincent Andrew, American, 1895 - 1948
16mm Film (a): acetate film;
16mm Film (b): acetate film
Duration: 70 Minutes
Length (Film Reel 1): 1130 Feet
Length (Film Reel 2): 1250 Feet
motion pictures (information artifacts)
Place filmed
New York City, New York County, New York, United States, North and Central America
Place depicted
New York City, New York County, New York, United States, North and Central America
A struggling songwriter finds a muse in his girlfriend, who inspires him write his next hit. After finding success, he falls under the sway of a beautiful club owner.
2015.167.17.1ab: 16mm black and white films.
Barbara, the adopted daughter of Bob's landlady, Mama Keyes, encourages him to put love into his words. Bob confesses that he has never been in love, and Barbara, who has fallen for him, helps him complete the song. Barbara, whose deceased parents were "troopers," wants to go into show business, feeling it is in her blood. Mama Keyes, however, disapproves of Barbara's ambitions and looks down on the activities of another tenant, the Great Joseph, a soothsayer who attempts to read the future in his crystal ball. After Bob's song becomes a hit, he is introduced at a society party to Vivian Marston, the largest stockholder at the swank Swan Club, the city's top nightclub. Although she is engaged to Ralph Williams, a down-to-earth man who hopes to end her capricious ways, Vivian flirts with Bob and offers him a booking at the club, even though Bob does not want to shove the current band leader, Barney Ray, out. When Bob comes home late after the party, he tells a suspicious Barbara about the job at the Swan Club and offers her a share of his royalty check, saying it takes a woman to write "heart interest stuff." Vivian arranges with the manager of the club, MacMillan, for Barney to change the club's name to the "Cinderella Club" in honor of Bob's song. At Bob's debut, which is attended by Barbara, Mama Keyes and the Great Joseph, Bob is a hit, but complains about muffing the last line of "Cinderella." Barbara suggests he hold a "Cinderella slipper" during the song with the lyrics written inside, but is unable to give him hers, as she has dancing plates on them. Later, Barney complains to Lester, the press agent, that Vivian, who now flirts with Bob, had him removed because he refused to play up to her. Soon news of Vivian and Bob's romance appears in the gossip columns. Bob rarely comes home to the boardinghouse, and Barbara, stoically accepting her apparent defeat, gets a job singing at the Hang Out Club. Ralph is angered by Vivian's claim that the gossip about her and Bob is false and insists that they are indeed lovers. After Vivian slaps him, he threatens to inform the newspapers that he is finished with her, but she begs him not to break their engagement. Later, when Bob, who never knew about the engagement, arrives at the club, Vivian tells him that he is just a friend to her. Knowing that Vivian will now offer no resistance, Mac, who is angered at the fact that Bob never shows up for rehearsals, fires him. Meanwhile, at the Hang Out Club, Barney, who is impressed with Barbara's singing, asks her to join his band, but when he insults Bob, she slaps him. Sometime later, Bob visits the Hang Out Club and apologizes to Barney, saying that the job of replacing him was too big. Lester finds them together and says that Mac has been looking for both of them because business has fallen off since Bob left the club. Lester then comes up with the idea to have Bob be the vocalist for Barney's band. Lester presents the idea to Mac, then suggests they have a contest in which all the women will bring a slipper, and Bob will pick one. The owner will receive a cash prize plus a week's engagement at the club if she is a singer. When Bob returns to the club, Vivian explains that she had to agree to let him go because her reputation was at stake. She tries to rekindle their romance, but Bob walks away from her. On the night of the contest, Bob, remembering Barbara's early words, picks a slipper with a tap dancing plate attached. She kisses him and they both sing "Cinderella." After she announces that she is not going to let him get away this time, Lester arranges for them to marry in the club. As Bob and Barbara marry, Vivian sits with Ralph.
Source: AFI Catalog of Feature Films. Accessed on August 11, 2016 (
African American
Race films
Credit Line
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of Randall and Sam Nieman
Object number
Restrictions & Rights
Unknown - Restrictions Possible
See more items in
National Museum of African American History and Culture Collection
Collection title
Nieman Film Collection
Media Arts-Film and Video
Data Source
National Museum of African American History and Culture

NOTE: Cataloging is an ongoing process and we may update this record as we conduct additional research and review. If you have more information about this object, please contact us at