I always wanted to be in the movies.
I was almost a star.
Then something happened that took my dream away.
I liked standing, I thought it was romantic.
If you think I was gonna let some guy run off with my girl
while I fight a bunch of crabs, you must be dizzy.
Well, every gal wants a guy that's gonna
sacrifice himself for her, it's romantic.
You see, that's the problem.
Bogart used to play the tough guy, now he just plays a sap.
Well, you're my tough guy.
Hey, what're you doing in here?
I'm talking to you.
Get outta here, go on, go.
People gotta learn their place.
Hey, don't look now, but I think I see Mona
Lane sitting over there in a booth drinking a milkshake.
- Where? - I said don't look.
I don't want you to embarrass me.
And I think I see Jimmy Stance over there with her.
I've read that those two are an item.
I guess it's true.
Movie stars are people just like us, they've gotta
put their pants on one leg at a time, just like me.
Hey, I told you to get outta here, boy.
That's how things went down
at the Moonlight Cafe,
the night Mona Lane got kidnapped by a gang of Negros.
Or at least that's how the newspapers told it.
But we got plenty of time to get to that.
This story is as much about me, as it is about her.
As a kid, I could still remember goin' to the pictures,
watchin' gangsters and cowboys on the big screen.
I wanted to be up there, bigger than everyone.
Bigger than life, on top of the world.
I always liked pretending to be other people.
That's me, Archie Glass.
Just a few months from hoboing my way from Georgia.
It wasn't long before I found myself on Central Av.
The center of Negro life in Los Angeles.
I fell in love with Los Angeles that night.
I started busing tables, then worked my way up to doorman at
the Dun Bar Club, which was the hottest spot in South LA.
Every night was like a party.
You never knew who would walk in.
Leroy Tucker was a black man from Compton,
who had Indian in him from his momma's side.
It was enough for him to pass as Mexican,
and get work as an outlaw bandit in westerns.
Big Nadine Lomax worked a lot.
Whenever the studios needed someone to play a maid,
they called Nadine.
She played maids in so many pictures,
they gave her an Oscar for it.
No one cared about them in Hollywood.
They were overlooked, or they was just a butt of jokes.
But down on Central Av, they were treated like stars.
There was magic in every gesture they made.
Every smile was a window into a new kind of freedom.
And the biggest of them all?
They called him the brown clown, he had a series of
short films where he played America's favorite Negro clown.
Ennis always dressed sharp,
and smoked these fancy cigars from Cuba.
I looked up to him.
I wanted to be just like him.
What's your name, kid?
Well, Archie Glass.
You don't look like a man
who wants to be a doorman all his life.
I wanna be like you.
I wanna be in the pictures.
I got a hot tip for you, if you want it.
Sure, I mean...
Go down to Central Casting.
They got a new Negro office open.
Tell 'em I sent you.
They're lookin' to put colored folks in movies.
Thank you, thank you.
I just need one break, mister.
One chance to do something big in this world.
If you give me that chance, I promise you,
I promise you, you won't be sorry.
Is that a gun?
Why are you pointing a gun at me?
Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang!
Look at me, Ma, I made it!
Top of the world!
Are you going to keep playing gangster in that mirror?
Or are you gonna come over here and keep me warm?
The first time I saw Sandra,
was standin' outside the Dun Bar Hotel.
She was like a peacock struttin' down the street.
She sang four nights a week at the Foxtrot Cafe.
I'm not sure what was sweeter.
Her voice on stage...
Or her kisses in bed.
That was real fine, baby.
You sure know how to make a fella feel good.
You're a good sweet talker.
I'm a good actor.
I mean, I'm a doorman right now, but,
I'm gonna be in the pictures soon.
I can't believe I hopped in bed with an actor!
My mama would whoop me good!
What's wrong with being an actor?
If you're Clark Gable or Betty Davis.
Then you could be a pirate or a princess, or even a cowboy.
That come and save the day.
But, if you are black,
the movies is just like real life.
You're just the maid or somebody's go-fetch boy.
I know there ain't a lot of work for a Negro man,
but that's gonna change and when it does,
I wanna be the first.
You're gonna be waiting a long time for that.
Not for too long.
I got me an audition at Victory Studio.
They're lookin' for Negro actors.
Soon, you're gonna see my name at the Ricaknie.