09 20 Oct '24
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George T. Nierenberg

Say Amen, Somebody

Edition 1983
100' - 1982 - Documentary, Music/Musical - Dialogue: English
Director: George T. Nierenberg With: Willie May Ford Smith, Thomas A. Dorsey, Sam Benford
The beauty of gospel music comes shining through in "Say Amen, Somebody", a rousing documentary by George T. Nierenberg, who has also made a documentary about jazz tap dancing. In "SAY AMEN SOMEBODY", Mr. Nierenberg visits with two of gospel's legendary performers, Thomas A. Dorsey and Mother Willie Mae Ford Smith. It's Mr. Dorsey who gives the film its title, as he tells the tamera crew a long story and lets them know they ought to be a little more vocally responsive. Mr. Dorsey isn't used to listeners who aren't noticeably moved by what he has to sing and say. The film makes it clear why.

The camera visits a storefront church, a convention of gospel performers, classes where Mr. Dorsey explains the songs he has written and those where Mrs. Smith (known as Mother Smith) instructs would be gospel soloists. It also visits a lot of kitchens and living rooms, where the music is no less stirring than it is on stage. The music alone would be enough to make "SAY AMEN SOMEBODY" worth seeing. But it has warmth and friendliness, too, and some of its family scenes are as memorable as its songs.
(N.Y. Times, 11.3.83)

Image gallery

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George T. Nierenberg


Willie May Ford Smith, Thomas A. Dorsey, Sam Benford

Director of Photography

Edward Lachman, Don Lenzer


Paul Barnes


Karen Nierenberg

More information



Countries of production

United States of America



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