The Girl in Room 20

Long before he starred in the TV version of Amos 'n' Andy, Spencer Williams directed black casts in films made for black audiences, and while this 1946 low-budget feature lacks the quirky obsessiveness of his religious dramas, it's a sincere attempt to counter Hollywood stereotyping with virtuous yet human role models. A talented young singer leaves her small town for New York and encounters a madam who offers her lodging; Williams is the cabdriver who installs her in a hotel where she hooks up with a band. The film's technical limitations can be interesting: some of the editing is curiously disjunctive, and the disorienting series of locales, rather than suggesting New York, creates a walled-off world that mirrors African-Americans' segregated existence. 62 min.

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