Been Rich All My Life
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This documentary follows the most unlikely troupe of tap dancers you're likely to meet, the Silver Belles, five former showgirls who danced at the Apollo and other legendary Harlem venues in the 1930s-40s. It is little remembered that these young women led the historic first strike by African American performers. They walked out of the Apollo one Saturday night in a successful bid for higher wages and established the American Guild of Variety Artists, for black and white performers nationwide. The Silver Belles have rich stories to tell about the history they made dancing at Harlem's… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 79%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"MacDonald seems less interested in the Silver Belles' past than their inspirational present. Eventually, the inevitable broken hips and dizzy spells take their toll, but those who remain seem determined to shuffle-step their way into the sunset."
‑ Sam Adams, Los Angeles Times
"Reminds us that every life contains many acts worth hearing about, not just a select few."
‑ Tom Keogh, Seattle Times
"The rhythm of life is a powerful beat - and this affectionate and revealing documentary is sure to get even the most world-weary feet tapping."
‑ Amber Wilkinson, Eye for Film
"At a time in their lives when their contemporaries are bouncing great-grandchildren on their knees, these Harlem divas of dance are bouncing their booties around."
‑ Jules Brenner, Cinema Signals
"This is a sweet documentary about a small group of women who've danced their way through life."
‑ Ross Anthony, Hollywood Report Card
"[MacDonald's] subjects -- former black chorus girls from Harlem's golden age, when the Cotton Club and the Apollo Theater ruled New York nightlife -- are utterly captivating."
‑ Ernest Hardy, L.A. Weekly
"If you only watched the first half of Been Rich All My Life, you might walk away thinking it's a so-so documentary about another fascinating, underreported piece of Harlem history. And you'd be at least half right in that assessment."
‑ Janice Page, Boston Globe
"It's a credit to MacDonald that she provides a little-known view of Harlem's halcyon days, but what's missing is the pith and marrow: We feel that the women still elude us."
‑ Maria Garcia, Film Journal International
"Because Been Rich follows a well-hoofed path, there aren't a lot of surprises, but the women make for good company."
‑ Chris Hewitt (St. Paul), St. Paul Pioneer Press
"While it's enjoyable on it's own terms, there's really no reason to go all the way to the film forum and plunk down twelve bucks to see this thing, when you could probably see it on public TV in a year or two."
‑ Eric Lurio, Greenwich Village Gazette
"It's a modest but highly enjoyable tribute."
‑ Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune
"The film could be more adept and probing, but the ladies -- Cleo Hayes, Marion Coles, Elaine Ellis, Fay Ray, and Geri Kennedy -- are delightful."
‑ Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor
"An enchanting, if bittersweet, memoir which seamlessly interweaves wistful, tenderhearted reflections with archival film footage and the readily-observable harsh realities associated with advanced age to yield a splendid slice of African-American history."
‑ Kam Williams, Upstage Magazine
"This is a film about brave women who left home as teenagers and have been on their own ever since. Now, nearing the end of that road, they face their inevitable decline with a cheerful vivacity."
‑ Bill White, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
More reviews for Been Rich All My Life on Rotten Tomatoes