I knew of Maurice Hines as a tap dancing legend, Broadway performer, movie performer, and singer, but I never knew of him as a gay Black man who was a father, a brother, a son and a friend to so many people. I never knew of the honesty, bravery, activism that this man stands for. But after seeing the documentary “Maurice Hines: Bring Them Back!” I now realize so many more dimensions to this marvelous entertainer.
The documentary will have its broadcast premiere on STARZ in February for Black History Month, with a limited run from Feb. 2-8 at the IFC Center (www.ifccenter.com/films/maurice-hines-bring-them-back/) and is currently available on Vimeo on Demand at https://vimeo.com/ondemand/mauricehines/428617973.
The film has incredible interviews of Maurice and his late brother Gregory throughout their lives. There is marvelous video footage of their performances together and separately in movies and Broadway shows. Stunning commentary about Maurice as both a performer and a person come from some of his dear friends including Chita Rivera, Mercedes Ellington, Debbie Allen, Charles Randolph-Wright, Mel Johnson Jr., his nephew Zachary, and his proteges John and Leo Manzani, plus others who are dear in his life.
This documentary contains original black and white photos of the Hines brothers from childhood to adolescence to adulthood, and contains performance footage from “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” of Hines, Hines & Dad, when they performed an act with Maurice Hines Sr.; “Sesame Street”; “Eubie!”; “Sophisticated Ladies”; “Balletap USA”; “The Cotton Club” movie; “Tappin’ Thru Life”—Maurice’s Broadway show about his life; “Hot Feet”; “Jelly’s Last Jam”—which finally earned Gregory a Tony Award; Maurice—who at age 78 is still performing and was at 54 Below in New York; and there were numerous videos of Maurice Hines being a guest dance teacher at the Debbie Allen Dance School and The Bushnell Dance School, along with a few others dance schools.
The documentary shows Maurice Hines to be a candid, vibrant, loving person who prefers his privacy. He is someone who has always been in the limelight since childhood and misses his parents and brother Gregory, his partner for so long. He has bouts of great sadness, but is also blessed with family and friends and a daughter who loves him a great deal.
The documentary ends with his friends throwing him a surprise party for his 75th birthday. It is absolutely heartwarming to witness the love at that gathering. These were family and friends, fellow thespians that had been on this journey with him for years. He is laughing, hugging, kissing and loving everyone at the party and one person comments, “This shows how much you are loved.” How appropriate that sentiment was and how much do we all need to hear that at times in our lives.
Watch this documentary and get to know the Hines family. “Maurice Hines: Bring Them Back!” has already won the Grand Jury Awards at DOC NYC and the American Black Film Festival, and is executive produced by Debbie Allen and Charles Randolph-Wright. It’s a beautiful thing when our elders get to tell their stories completely and get acknowledged as being important, not just to their friends and families, but to our culture as a whole.
Thank you Maurice Hines, for all that you and your brother meant to our people all these decades, and that you continue to mean! You are a phenomenal man.
For more info visit mauricehinesmovie.com.