‘Been Rich All My Life’


The aesthetics of Heather MacDonald’s documentary are not remarkable, but the dancing octogenarians are. In fact, the Silver Belles, five former Harlem chorus girls who are still bustin’ a move despite their advanced ages, are the best kind of company there is. Despite not being able to “remember shit,” and despite declining and unpredictable bodies, they make it to performance after performance, donning sequins and spangles, and whooping up a whole lotta somethin’ in front of sold-out crowds. Been Rich gives us a slice of American history, as the Belles discuss their origins and their years as chorus girls. They danced with Bill Robinson (a/k/a Bojangles); shared the stage with Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, and Louis Armstrong; and put on upwards of half a dozen shows a day, seven days a week. The Silver Belles are bold, brash, and gorgeously awake, and their willingness to live large is thrilling.