Stepin Fetchit, Kenneth Freeman, William Greaves, and Sheila Guyse in Miracle in Harlem (1948)


(director: Jack Kemp ; screenwriter: story by Vincent Valentini/Vincent Valentini; cinematographer: Don Malkame; editor: Don Drucker; cast: Stepin Fetchitt (‘Swifty’, the Handyman ), Kenneth Freeman (Jim Marshall), Lawrence Criner (Albert Marshall), Jack Carter (Phillip Manley), William Greaves (Bert Hallam), Sybyl Lewis (Alice Adams), Hilda Offley (Aunt Hattie), Creighton Thompson (Reverend Jackson), Sheila Guyse (Julie Weston), Milton Williams (Wilkinson), Monte Hawley (Lt. Renard); Runtime: 69; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Jack Goldberg; Herald Pictures; 1944)

“An enjoyable crime drama, with a mostly black cast.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Jack Kemp’s only credit as a director is an enjoyable crime drama, with a mostly black cast. Besides a decent whodunit story there’s some lively church music and some funny Stepin Fetchitt comedy. Also enjoyable were The Juanita Hall choir performing “Chocolate Candy Blues,” the Lynn Proctor Trio’s “Watch Out” and Savannah Churchill performing “I Want to Be Loved.”

The widowed Albert Marshall (Lawrence Criner) owns a big candy business in Harlem. Julie Weston (Sheila Guyse) runs, with the help of her nice guy Army vet boyfriend Bert (William Greaves), a small candy operation out of the kitchen of her religious, elderly, foster mother, Aunt Hattie (Hilda Offley). Albert swindles the business from Julie by underhandedly taking over the business by pretending his employee Wilkerson (Milton Williams) will give her the money to modernize without her knowing Marshall will be the real owner and can take over the business whenever he wants to. Marshall’s rotten son Jim (Kenneth Freeman), who was just kicked out of Chicago for hanging around with con man Phillip Manley (Jack Carter), is forced to run Julie’s business by his dad. Jim annoys Julie by sexually harassing her. When Julie learns she lost the business, she threatens Albert Marshall. Meanwhile Albert’s devious secretary girlfriend, Alice Adams (Sybyl Lewis), learns she will inherit all his money because he left his son out of the will. Soon Albert is killed by eating poisoned candy. The dumb cop, Lt. Renard (Monte Hawley), arrests Julie, but lets her go free to be supervised by the respected Reverend Jackson (Creighton Thompson). The dumb cop again arrests Julie when Jim is found knifed to death in her kitchen late at night. To the rescue comes Aunt Hattie to set a trap for Jim’s killer. This time the coppers smarten up and trap the killer of the other Marshall.