Copyright 1995 ABC-CLIO. This review was taken from the ABC-CLIO Video Rating Guide for Libraries on CD-ROM, a 5-year compilation of over 8900 video titles and reviews, 1990-1994. For information regarding order VRGL CD-ROM, contact: ABC-CLIO, P.O. Box 1911, Santa Barbara, CA 93116-1911; 805-968-1911

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Saturday Night, Sunday Morning: The Travels of Gatemouth Moore

Rating: *****

  • Audience: College to Adult
  • Price: Public performance: $195.00 Home use: $49.00
  • Date: Copyright 1992. Released 1992.
  • Descriptors: Moore, Arthus Dwight "Gatemouth". Blues music. Music.
  • Production Information: Live action, Stills. Directed by Louis Guida. Color, b&w. Also available in PAL. Stereo. 58 min.
  • Available from: California Newsreel 149 9th St., #420 San Francisco, CA 94103 (415)621-6196
  • Cataloging: 781.643 Moore, Arthus Dwight||Rhythm and blues music||Afro-American musicians
  • Awards: American Film & Video Festival Blue Ribbon, 1992.
  • Print Entry #: 4:600
  • Reviewer: Olivia Opello

    During the 1930s, Arthus Dwight "Gatemouth" Moore was one of the better-known blues singers in the country. But, in the 1950s he abandoned this kind of music to take up vestments in the Baptist Church. His personal journey from being one of the preeminent blues singers in the 1930s and 1940s to becoming a minister in the 1950s seems easy enough, but, as in any major human transformation, it provides time for musing, reflection, and self-examination. This program is suitable for a broad range of audiences.

    Born in Topeka, Kansas, in 1913, Moore grew up in an impoverished environment. By the time he was nine, he was singing soprano at church but abandoned that at 16 to tour the country with Ma Rainey, performing in tent shows. Beginning nightclub work in Chicago, he ultimately reached the pinnacle of fame on Beale Street in Memphis. This mecca for black singers and musicians was a college for entertainers who could learn anything desired: showmanship, musical presentation, public relations, and much, much more. In the heart of the black community, the Beale Street area supported a separate black culture of nightclubs, churches, social organizations, schools, and businesses. Outside of this enclave, Moore and his colleagues performed in "white man's land." But they entertained well, and, as one cohort said, we "roll with the punches and take the money."

    Saturday Night, Sunday Morning has many messages. Part of it traces Moore's rise to fame as a blues singer, then his dramatic conversion to the Baptist ministry. In addition to these expectations, there is a portrayal of what it was like to grow up black in a tightly segregated country. Ofttimes the reminiscences reflect on how he survived it all, traveling the South in his Cadillac in the 1950s (he kept a chauffeur's hat handy and if anyone questioned him, his standard reply was, "I'm going to pick up the doctor"), performing in nightclubs, and ministering the congregations. His memories weave present day with past events.

    Moore talks about the personal dilemma he faces being a minister and still being pressed to sing the blues. Although he does not mix blues singing and the ministry now, a small part of him would still like to do one last recording. This division between sacred and secular has held Moore and all his friends together over the years, many of which have included strife, fear, and anger. On Saturday night there is fun and celebration, singing and music. On Sunday morning there is always church, the music of which is not so different from Saturday Night: vibrant, stirring, and deeply emotional. Only the lyrics have changed.

    Interviews with Moore and his friends in music as well as in the church are interspersed smoothly with clips of blues performers, black-and-white photographs of a young Moore, and Moore traveling the Delta. This interesting, heartfelt journey is taken in gentle response to the call of one's heart rather than the drive of one's ambitions. At peace with himself and the world, Moore is an astute observer who kindly passes on his memories. Highly recommended.

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