Forget Bride of the Gorilla and Reefer Madness. Cultural-archaeology digs performed in the name of video have now unearthed a new candidate for the distinction of Worst Movie Ever Made. Unlisted in the reference books, unknown even to specialists in all-black movies, No Time for Romance was shot in Burbank, Calif., in 1948 and apparently released to a few black theaters the following year. Then it disappeared into the producer’s closet, where it was discovered by his daughter in 1983. It has this distinction: It’s believed to be the first all-black film ever made in color.
The plot is, to be kind, moronic. Eunice Wilson, an obscure Los Angeles nightclub performer, plays singer Cinda Drake. After she hears bandleader Ted Wayne (played by Austin McCoy) trying out a new song, ”A Lovely Day,” she calls her New York agent to tell him about it. On the basis of this dreadful — and repeatedly performed — ditty, the manager sends Wayne an advance on royalties of $10,000, negotiates for him to star on Broadway, and lands him his very own television show. Gee, that’s realistic. Meanwhile, evil bandleader Drums Miller (Dennis Fluellen) plots to kidnap Cinda and murder Ted.
Only one performer, Shirley Haven, as Marie, a proprietor of a ranch, seems to have had any experience in delivering lines. And the soundtrack, which includes a quasi-R&B version of ”Home on the Range” and a long piece of semiclassical claptrap with a boogie woogie interlude, boasts one interesting jazz piece. The trumpet player knows a few bebop licks and has a tone reminiscent of the legendary Freddie Webster’s. Unhappily, he and the other musicians are unidentified. Maybe they preferred it that way. F