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Been Rich All My Life

4.7 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

This documentary follows the unlikeliest troupe of tap dancing divas. They are the "Silver Belles," five former showgirls now aged 84-96, performing to standing ovations, as sassy as they ever were. They met during Harlem's 1930's heyday, dancing in the chorus lines at the Apollo Theater, the Cotton Club, Small's Paradise and Connie's Inn, performing with legendary band leaders like Cab Calloway and Duke Ellington. When the big band era ended, they all went into other work -- but in 1985 they put their shoes back on, and have been dancing together again ever since. They may not kick as high, but they are hip-swaying and show-biz savvy. (First Run Features)

Review

Richly uplifting! Inspirational to young and old alike. --Hollywood Reporter

Marvelous! A real treasure. --The New Yorker

Charming subjects and a fine sense of history. Recommended! --New York Magazine

Special Features

  • Dance Class: Learn the Shim Sham Shimmy
  • Interviews with the Director and Composer
  • Original Music Tracks
  • Photo Gallery

Product Details

  • Actors: Marion Coles, Cleo Hayes, Fay Ray, Elaine Ellis (III), Berte Lou Wood
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: FIRST RUN FEATURES
  • DVD Release Date: November 21, 2006
  • Run Time: 80 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000HXDENA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #43,979 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Been Rich All My Life" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By S. Kienle on October 21, 2006
Format: DVD
I saw this film in a premier showing with the film maker and three of the Silver Belles present. The film was most entertaining and touching as you journey back in time with these wonderful, fiesty women. Their lives have been filled with struggles, triumphs and finally, well deserved recongnition. The audience laughed at their wit and marvelled at the story of their lives. They started their careers as very young women who were given a shot at show business in the 1930's in the hot spots of Harlem during it's Golden Age. The Cotton Club and the Apollo Theatre were their homes for many years. All of them give great credit to those who taught them 'the ropes'. They are still busy performing and passing along the heart of dance to the young dancers who are coming up today. I felt privileged to be taken on their journey and found myself, along with the rest of the audience, laughing at their tales of the old days and being touched with sadness at their losses and struggles. Better than being called 'survivors' they can be called triumphant and heroic. The sound track was wonderful and had everyone's feet tapping along. If you like dance, music, history, biography, show business or just a great story, I think you will thoroughly enjoy this film.
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Format: DVD
BEEN RICH ALL MY LIFE is the story of five women who ranged in age from 84-96 at the time of filming. These ladies were chorus girls at the storied Harlem nightclubs such as The Savoy, Cotton Club and Apollo Theater during their heyday in the 1930's and 40s. Despite their advanced ages the women perform together as a group known as "The Silver Belles" and retain their senses of humor, love for performing and zest for life. The film lets us experience the decline and eventual demise of Bertye Lou, the oldest and perhaps sassiest of the group, and celebrate her life with her friends at a lively wake. We also see first hand the universal realities of old age all the women are realizing. Some history of Harlem and African American struggles in the 20th century are taught along the way but the former chorus girls and their personal lives remain the central theme. The movie is a bit unfocused at times but is still an inspirational story of the need to embrace life no matter what your current age or circumstance.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Energizing and encouraging! Wonderful peek into the history of tap and how great to keep going no matter how old one gets. I look at this over and over again. These black women dancers had to put up with a lot, but they are not dwelling on how hard it was. They are continuing on and teaching all of us about the wonders and joys of tap dancing. Even the spiciness is done with class.
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I love tap dance and used to do it myself, so this documentary really resonated with me. Loved seeing the old photos of the women as young dancers at the Cotton Club...and seeing them still hoofing into their 80's. It was very heart warming. I wish there were more old footage, and a little less of them riding the bus and hailing cabs. But overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the film and recommend it to anyone who loves dance.

Don't miss the dance lesson--learn the Shim Sham Shimmy!
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Format: Amazon Video Verified Purchase
My stepmom who passed in 2005 told me about these ladies and I was fortunate to see them briefly in person in Harlem. While browsing Amazon Prime, I decided to watch this because I wanted to see more. The next thing I know I was crying like crazy because to my surprise while watching this, the camera scrolled the audience. "My Stepmom was in the audience. How could this be? At first I saw what appeared to be her and I let it go that she was just on my mind. As I continued to watch, again I saw someone that looked so much like her, I did a rewind. Too my amazement, it was in fact my Stepmom in the audience with friends smiling and enjoying the performance. What are the chances to get such a jewel of a present. Now I must try and purchase this for enjoyment, memories and to enjoy it again this time with my stepmom. Thank you universe.
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Viewed this on Amazon Prime. Whoever came up with the idea of producing this I take my hat off to you. Because several other reviews have already summarized the film I won't. It was interesting hearing about the lives of those that are taken for granted in the background. These beautiful, brave African American women went on strike, in the 1930s, at the Cotton Club to get better pay and less (reasonable) work hours. Their successful strike benefited others more so than themselves, but they still remained the dignified ladies that they were. I hope that at 80+ I can still shake a leg as well as they did. I plan to buy a copy for myself, my mom and possibly my aunts for Christmas.
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By AuntieB on June 24, 2016
Format: Amazon Video Verified Purchase
What a fun look back at the dancers from the Cotton Club in the 1930's. These ladies were fantastic dancers in their youth and as older women. It was a great documentary but when I discovered it was from 10 years ago I felt sad as surely most of the dancers have passed on.
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Bad camera and production!!! but the LADIES MADE THE SHOW AWARD WINNING... Love these ladies wish more stories are and were done on them. Their lives will inspire anyone. These ladies should be in the history books, tell your children about them. The are absolutely amazing!!!
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