It’s a party fit for the King of Calypso.
The Museum of the Moving Image hosts The Harry Belafonte Pre-Birthday Celebration in Astoria’s Kaufman Arts District on Saturday, Feb. 4. The early bird event — Belafonte turns 90 this March 1 — features a three-film retrospective and a conversation with a good friend of the legendary singer, actor, and civil rights activist.
At 1 p.m. “The Strolling ’20s,” screens. Written by Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes, this 60-minute CBS TV special captures the tempo and spirit of Harlem in the 1920s. The star-studded cast includes Belafonte, Sammy Davis Jr., Duke Ellington, Sidney Poitier, and Nipsey Russell.
Walter Mosley, a multi-faceted author whose novels include “Devil in a Blue Dress” and those from the best-selling mystery series about Easy Rawlins, a hard-boiled African American detective in Los Angeles, discusses Belafonte’s legacy at 2:15 p.m. He chats with Warrington Hudlin, a museum trustee and film producer whose work includes House Party and Boomerang.
“Kansas City,” a 1996 feature filled with jazz, kidnapping, and drugs, shows at 3:30 p.m. Belafonte, who plays a street smart gangster, has said that this is his personal favorite acting performance.
The nightcap is Otto Preminger’s “Carmen Jones” at 6 p.m. Belafonte co-stars with Dorothy Dandridge in this 1954 musical, an adaptation of Georges Bizet’s opera Carmen. In this version, Belafonte is a young World War II soldier, while Dandridge is a fetching parachute-factory worker.
Admission to each individual program is $15. A day-pass costs $25. This birthday party is the fourth annual Black History Month collaboration between the Black Filmmaker Foundation and the museum.
Images: Manfred Werner/Museum of the Moving Image