Been Rich All My Life

on July 21, 2006 by Kim Williamson
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Not nearly as rich as the lives of the performers it profiles, "Been Rich All My Life" is a video documentary looking back on the dance careers of the members of today's Silver Belles troupe. The Belles, all now in their 80s and 90s, in their youth hoofed in the chorus lines at the Harlem hotspots the Apollo and the Cotton Club.

Had the film focused more strongly on that era between the world wars via a far greater use of archival footage and a greater range of interviewees, it likely would have had more depth; as it is, "Been Rich All My Life" instead goes the certainly easier, certainly less expensive route, simply capturing the Belles as they practice for or perform in the tapdance turns they've been doing for a decade-plus in New York concert halls. Although their travails -- mainly fighting physical infirmities -- deepen the text a bit, and their abilities, though much circumscribed by age, are a modest delight, what's onscreen comes across as little more than home-movie footage of old acquaintances getting together now and again. The action, not the denouement, is always the more interesting tale: What we want is not how they ended up, but how they got there. Starring Marion Coles, Elaine Ellis, Cleo Hayes, Fay Ray, Bertye Lou Wood and Geri Kennedy. Directed and produced by Heather Lyn MacDonald. A First Run release. Documentary. Unrated. Running time: 80 min

Tags: documentary, dance, troupe, historical, Marion Coles, Elaine Ellis, Cleo Hayes, Fay Ray, Bertye Lou Wood, Geri Kennedy, Heather Lyn MacDonald
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