Maurice Hines walks into a room and a string of successes follow him, including Francis Ford Coppola's "The Cotton Club" and Broadway's "Eubie." Hines is described as energetic and his tapping technique as fast and clean. All this is apparent in the moving documentary by John Carluccio and produced by Tracy E. Hopkins.
"Maurice Hines: Bring Them Back" brings to the screen a fusion of Hines personal and professional life. It reintroduces (or introduces) artists who shared the stage and/ or the screen with him. It brings us full circle from Maurice at 75, back to his youth and through adulthood , and back. It is a profound look at a man who has lived much of his life in the public’s eye along with his younger brother Gregory.
The Hines brothers began dancing at age three and five. In conversation, Maurice recounts how the school didn’t want to take his brother because they felt he was too young for classes. Maurice would not dance without his brother, so they both became students. Thus, began a long partnership, on stage and in the movies, between the two brothers. The documentary features wonderful film clips of the two young brothers tap dancing. Maurice comes across as more outgoing while Gregory seems more withdrawn. That they worked hard is evident from the clips.
“Gregory learned steps faster, but would forget it, I learned slower but would remember it. So, we helped each other,” Maurice said.
The Hines brothers appeared often at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, but long before that, they would spend whole days at the theater, watching each show and progressively moving forward until they were near the stage where they could really see the feet of the tappers. They appeared 35 times on "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson." Maurice credits Carson for “Making us stars.”
"Maurice Hines: Bring Them Back" is a powerful film in its depiction of an artist looking back on his career while still performing. He lets us into his personal world, revealing private events such as the falling out with his brother, Gregory, where they did not speak for a decade. Eventually they reconciled. One of the most poignant moments in the film is when Maurice recounts Gregory telling him that he will miss growing old with him, miss reminiscing with him on a lifetime of shared experiences. Gregory died in 2003.
Maurice is still appearing at workshops and performing. His partners are the Manzari Brothers, two brothers from the Washington, D.C. area, Maurice met them in a workshop when they were 15 and 17, and says they are great. "You know it when you see it.” The Manzari Brothers were featured with Maurice in the remake of Sophisticated Ladies. They have also appeared as guest artists on "So You Think You Can Dance."
"Maurice Hines: Bring Them Back" is a poignant homage to an artist who is still going strong. It captures the triumphs and trials of a man who has lived a life in the theatre. Maurice opens up completely to the camera. Director Carluccio has given us a film which captures the personal with the professional. The film won a Grand Jury Prize at DOC NYC in November and will have its Florida premiere on Sunday, March 8 at the Miami Film Festival. It’s a film you will want to come back to.
"Maurice Hines: Bring Them Back" Workshop: Sunday, March 8, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. with a conversation between Maurice Hines and tap great Jason Samuels Smith; Miami Light Project, 404 N.W. 26th Street, Wynwood 33127; 305-576-4350
Miami Film Festival, Sunday, March 8. 3:15 p.m., Silverspot Cinema, 300 SE 3rd Street, Miami.
The Miami Film Festival continues through March 15 in theaters across the city; see complete schedule at miamifilmfestival.com/schedule. More information: 844-565-MIFF (6433); 305-237-FILM (3456); miamifilmfestival.com
SUPPORT LOCAL TAP: Miami Dance Hub and Michelle F. Solomon, the editor of miamiartzine.com have started a tap scholarship in honor of Michelle's mother Mabel-Faye Solomon. To find out more, https://www.miamidancehub.com/mfrs-scholarship