VINTAGE AFRICAN AMERICAN FILMS  

 

ALL TITLES ARE IN DVD FORMAT I'm using Paypal as my form of payment, however if don't have a Paypal account you can print out the payment form and mail it  to me.      I get many of the Hard-to-Find Vintage Titles from a collector who has original films and allows me to provide them to my customers.  Those titles have been marked and highlighted in RED..

 


"I
n the Shadow of Hollywood: Race Movies and the Birth of Black Cinema":   In 2007 I had the opportunity to consult on and appear in this fascinating documentary which documents the "Race Film era".  This documentary provides the viewer with the sounds and images of a nearly-forgotten era in American film history.  A period when African American filmmakers and studios created “Race Films”, films made exclusively for African American audiences, shown in African American movie houses. 
The best of these films attempted to counter the demeaning stereotypes of African Americans prevalent in the popular culture of the day. About 500 films were produced, yet only about 100 still exist. Filmmaking pioneers like Oscar Micheaux, the Noble brothers, and Spencer Williams, Jr. left a lasting influence on African American filmmakers, and inspired generations of audiences who finally saw their own lives reflected on the silver screen. 2007/BW/COLOR    Bonus Feature:  1939 Short staring Clarence Muse: "Broken Earth"           $19.95

 
"AFRICAN AMERICAN NEWSREELS"  These are Newsreels from 1945 - 1950s produced for African Americans audiences by "All-American Newsreels" and "Byline Newsreel".  Also included are short-subjects:  "Negro in Sports; Negro in Entertainment and Negro in Industry".  BW/90mins.            $15.00    $10.00

 
anna lu.bmp (43554 bytes) "ANNA LUCASTA":  Eartha Kitt turns in a vivacious and sexy performance as a young prostitute who, after being disowned by her iron-handed father, returns home to an arranged marriage to a wealthy suitor. But Kitt ruins her scheming brother-in-law's plan to bilk her new husband when she actually starts to fall in love with him. Frederick O'Neal, Henry Scott and Sammy Davis, Jr. Co-star in this powerful drama based on the play by Philip Yordan. 97 min. Widescreen;  Cast: Alvin Childress, Sammy Davis Jr., James Edwards, Rex Ingram, Eartha Kitt.  1959 /DVD  $15.00 
 
Band Of Angels"BAND OF ANGELS"  After she learns she is of African lineage, the penniless daughter (Yvonne De Carlo) of a once-prosperous Kentucky family is sold as a slave to a New Orleans millionaire (Clark Gable) and soon becomes his mistress. When the Civil War erupts, Gable is threatened by one of his former slaves (Sidney Poitier) who has joined the Union army. With Rex Reason, Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.; Raoul Walsh directs.  Cast: Raymond Bailey, Yvonne De Carlo, Clark Gable, Andrea King, Patrick Knowles, Tommie Moore, Sidney Poitier, Rex Reason, Ray Teal, Torin Thatcher, Efrem Zimbalist Jr.  1957/127min./BW/     DVD    $19.95
 
 
"BEALE STREET MAMA": - July Jones and Spencer Williams - A street cleaner and friend find some stolen money which they use to establish themselves in the good life. They are found out and end up losing everything. 1946/BW/60mins.     $19.95   $15.00

 

Harlem Double Feature: Jivin' In Be Bop (1946) / Beware (1946) Boxart "BEWARE / JIVIN IN BE-BOP"     $10.00   Beware (1946): Ware College is about to close its doors forever because its endowment has run dry. A last minute appeal to famous alumni brings the college's plight to the attention of Louis Jordan. Jordan, known as King of the Jukebox, set things right by hounding the good-for-nothing grandson of Ware College's founder into spending his fortune on education rather than fast living. Beware features over a half dozen numbers by jazz great Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five. Starring Louis Jordon and his Tympany Five, Frank Wilson, Emory Richardson, Valerie Black, Milton Woods, Joseph Hilliard, Tommy Hix, Dimples Daniels; Produced and Directed by Bud Pollard. Jivin' In Be-Bop (1946, ):   Dizzy Gillespie takes center stage and hosts an old time variety show from the "Chitlin Circuit" captured in its entirety. Jivin' in Be Bop features one smash show-stopping tune after another performed by Dizzy and His Orchestra intermingled with hilarious vaudeville routines. Starring Dizzy Gillispie and His Orchestra, Helen Humes, Ray Sneed Sanji, Freddie Carter and Ralph Brown; Directed by Leonard Anderson and Spencer Williams; Screenplay by Powell Lindsay; Produced by William D. Anderson. 
 
"BLACK KING, The / JUNCTION 88"    DVD    $10.00        Black King: The Reverend Charcoal Johnson fires up his congregation with his "Back to Africa" scam. He even manages to turn the eye of beautiful young Mary Lou, with outrageous promises to make her the Queen of Africa when they reach the Dark Continent. A biting satire based on the real-life "Back to Africa" crusade of Marcus Garvey. 1932/BW/ 60min.  "Junction 88": In the sleepy town of Junction 88, young Buster Jenkins dreams of song writing stardom. Featuring lively music from a talented cast that includes bandleader Noble Sissle, and a comical performance by Pigmeat Markham, Junction 88 is a jumpin' jive musical from the later years of all-Black cinema. Starring Pigmeat Markham, Bob Howard, Nobel Sissle, Wyatt Clark, Marie Cooke, Augustus Smith and Abbey Mitchell . 1947/BW 60min.   $10.00
 
Stock photo "BIRMINGHAM BLACK BOTTOM":      The first All Black "talkies". Produced by the Christie Company, this DVD contains four shorts: "Music Hath Harms" Roscoe Griggers (Spencer Williams) puts himself forward as a great musician who really he can't play at all and just leads a band. He is offered a large amount of money to perform himself so arranges with a band member to play for him under the stage while he mimes. His rivals get wind of this and stop his friend from playing. "The Melancholy Dame" 1929 - Spencer Williams. The story relates the troubles of "Permanent Williams," darktown cabaret owner, who is forced to hire his divorced wife and her new husband as entertainers. His second wife doesn't relish the fact., "Framing of the Shrew" 1929 - An obstreperous wife (Preer) is tamed and trained by her smaller but wily husband. Evelyn Preer, Spencer Williams, Roberta Hyson, Edward Thompson. "Oft In The Silly Night." 1929 - Romance blossoms between a Black chauffeur and the boss's daughter. Spencer Williams, Evelyn Preer, Edward Thompson. 1925/BW/60mins..     $19.95 
 
"BIRTH OF A RACE":  Released in 1919, Birth of a Race was directed by John W. Noble and produced by Emmett J. Scott. Emmett Scott had acted as personal secretary to Booker T. Washington prior to Washington's death in 1915.  The production is documented as having received support from both Washington and his Tuskegee Institute. The film began shooting in Tampa, Florida in 1913. Though this clearly predates the production of Birth of a Nation, Dixon's novel "The Clansmen" had been adapted to the stage and as early as 1910 had been the recipient of protest. Birth of the Race did not receive the attention anticipated by its makers, yet neither was it the only film to directly counter Griffith's in these early days of the Race Film industry.      BW/Silent/1919      $19.95  $15.00  [NOTE: This is a special order title from my collector contact, allow additional time for delivery] 
 

"BIRTH OF A NATION":  Based on a play called "The Clansmen," D.W. Griffith's three-hour Civil War epic traces the development of the Civil War itself, the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the rise of the Ku Klux Klan through the lives of two families. After The Birth of a Nation, nothing was the same!!!!  What has become increasingly problematic about The Birth of a Nation is Griffith's condescending attitude toward Black slaves, and the ringing excitement surrounding the founding of the Ku Klux Klan. Griffith, whose political ideas were naive at best, seemed genuinely surprised by the criticism of his masterwork, and for his next project he turned to the humanist preaching of the massive Intolerance. Despite protests, Birth sold more tickets than any other movie, a record that stood for decades, and President Woodrow Wilson compared it to "history written in lightning."    I only offer this film for historical comparison with films made by Black filmmakers  $6.95 
 
 
  "EARLY BLACK ENTERTAINMENT IN FILM":  Race films, or "black-cast films", as they became known in the 1940s and 50s, were produced for black audiences and played in segregated theaters, churches, and were even projected on the side of barn walls. What is traditionally thought of as race films--movies produced by blacks for blacks--got started in the early 1900s with films like The Lincoln Motion Picture Company's The Realization of the Negro's Ambition (1916) and Oscar Micheaux's The Homesteader (1918); but films with either black people or white people in blackface date back to 1895. Black Entertainment in Film is a three-disc set that features 13 of the over 1300 race and black-cast films that were produced from before the turn of the century all the way up to 1959.
 
Disc 1 - Blacks in Film: This first disc features four seminal films, and one short documentary about black-cast films. Race Movies: The Popular Art of the Black Renaissance is Thomas Cripps' 20-minute documentary that attempts to explain the history of race films. Those that know nothing about these films will learn a lesson or two, but ultimately this is disappointing documentary. Boy! What a Girl! (1947) is a musical that mixes comedy and drama in what is in many ways the typical black-cast film of the 1940s. The familiar plot finds two small-time producers trying to raise the money to put on their new show and pay the rent. Tim Moore, best known as Kingfish on Amos & Andy, steals the show in a cross-dressing performance. Not all race films were made by black filmmakers, some were made by Poverty Row producers and directors like Edgar G. Ulmer, whose Moon Over Harlem (1939) is a quickly-made, down-and-dirty production more memorable for its cast of legendary jazz musicians than its thread-bare story or production values. Oscar Micheaux made 42 films between 1919 and 1948, many of which he distributed himself, driving cross-country with film reels in the trunk of his car. Micheaux's God's Stepchildren (1938) tackles the same issues of race and racial identity that many of his other films did. Though Micheaux was a prolific filmmaker and a savvy businessman, he was not a very good filmmaker. Of the films of his that have survived, this is one of the best, but it is not particularly good. Second only to Micheaux, Spencer Williams was arguably the most prolific and important player in the world of race films. He directed twelve films, including his debut, Blood of Jesus (1941), but he is best known as an actor, and for having played Andy on Amos & Andy. Like a vast majority of the films of this era, Blood of Jesus suffers from low budget production values and frequent bad acting, but it is notable for its soundtrack (as are many other race films).
Disc 2 - Black Westerns: Jazz performer Herb Jeffries became a matinee idol for the segregated black audiences of the 1930s when he starred in four westerns between 1937 and 1939. Bronze Buckaroo (1939) was Jeffries' third western, and the second in which he played Bob Blake, the heroic singing cowboy who must save the day when his friend Joe (Spencer Williams) mysteriously disappears. Harlem Rides the Range (1939) was Jeffries' last western, and finds him once again reprising his role as Bob Blake, who is caught in a race to find hidden treasure on the ranch of Watson (Spencer Williams, who co-wrote the script). Two-Gun Man from Harlem (1938) was Jeffries' debut as Bob Blake (but his second western), who must clear his name when he is accused of murder. As westerns go, none of Jeffries' films are all that great, but they all do have great musical performances by Jeffries and the Four Tones. The only non-Herb Jeffries film of this disc is Look-Out Sister (1947), starring and directed by famed band leader Louis Jordan, who basically plays himself, only as a gunslinger (in a fantasy).                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Disc 3 - Black Musicals: Once sound came in to play in motion pictures, race films found a secret ingredient that would be used in vast majority of every film produced for black audiences--musical performances. Many race and black-cast films were not very good. Nearly all suffered from extremely low budgets, with bad acting, bad stories and overall bad filmmaking. But the one thing that was almost always exceptional was the musical numbers by notable jazz and big band performers of the day. As a result, a lot of bad films have great musical numbers (as well as dance and comedy performances) that make up for rest of the film. In fact, many movies were just excuses to capture on film the performances audiences in bigger cities could see live. That said, the best race films--as in the most consistently entertaining--are almost always the musicals, as these are the ones that offer the most of what was best about the black-cast films. Hi De Ho (1947) is not a great film by any stretch of the imagination, but it can't be beat when it comes to performances by lead actor Cab Calloway (playing himself), or the performance by the Miller Brothers. One of the only musicals by Oscar Micheaux, Swing! (1937) is a perfect example of the problems to be found in race films--ranging from production value to acting--and the treasures to be found in terms of musical performances. Carman Newsome, one of Micheaux's regular leading men, stars as a producer trying to put on a show on Broadway. The movie is forgettable, but performances like that of the Tyler Twins are priceless. The Duke is Tops is notable for two things; first and foremost is the incomparable Lena Horne, who made her film debut in this tale of a singer trying to make a name for herself. Horne, of course, is remembered for being a singer and performer of legendary beauty and talent. But the other notable element of this film is not so well remembered, and that is lead actor Ralph Cooper. Often referred to as "Dark Gable," Cooper was the race film's answer to Hollywood superstar Clark Gable, and played a pivotal role in the success of many black-cast films. Louis Jordan returns (as an actor) in Beware! (1948) in yet another film with a forgettable plot and great musical numbers, most courtesy of Jordan and his band Tympani Five.
BW/747MINS.           
 
 
 
 "BLACK SHADOWS ON A SILVER SCREEN":  Ossie Davis Narrates this motion picture history of African American's involvement in American cinema between 1900 - 1950.  This documentary is complete with scenes from films depicting positive and negative Black images. Contributions of Black filmmakers like Oscar Micheaux illustrate the rugged path trod by Black producers and actors. Highlighted are the careers of Paul Robeson, Josephine Baker, Fredi Washington. .(1975) - The motion picture history of Black involvement in American films, with scenes from films depicting positive and negative Black images. Contributions of Black filmmakers like Oscar Micheaux illustrate the rugged path trod by Black producers and actors. Highlighted are the careers of Paul Robeson, Josephine Baker, Fredi Washington with narration by Ossie Davis. Documentary, 55min 1975/ BW-Color/55 min.,            $15.00  $10.00    [NOTE: This is a special order title from my collector contact, allow additional time for delivery]

"BOARDING HOUSE BLUES":    This film stars the great Jackie "Moms" Mabley.  Born Loretta Mary Aiken in 1894, acting as Jackie Mabley, better known as "Moms," she made a career of spinning hardship into comic gold with her pioneering comedic routine into race relations, feminist and lesbian issues, "Moms" Mabley is best remembered for her classic comedy albums recorded for Chess Records and her appearance in the feature film Amazing Grace (1974) which was her last film. Plot:  "Moms" can't pay the note on her rooming house for entertainers.  John Mason & Company, Johnny Lee Jr., Dusty Fletcher, Marcellus Wilson, Marie Cooke, Emery Richardson, James Cross & Harold Cromer (Stump & Stumpy), Sidney Easton, Freddie Robinson, J. Augustus Smith, Edgar Martin, John Piano, Lucky Millinder & his Orchestra, Una Mae Carlisle, Bull Moose Jackson, Berry Brothers, Lewis & White, Anistine Allen, Paul Breckenridge, Lee Norman Trio & "Crip" Heard (one-armed and one-legged dancer.) The entertainers get together and hold a "rent party.    $10.00   Boarding House Blues

 

The first act on stage is billed here as "Crip" Heard, a one-arm, one-legged dancer who in the following decade would prefer to be billed as Herbert "Henry" Heard. he gives a very smooth performance & despite the "freak show" element, it's very cool. Stump & Stumpy were a great comedy team, consisting of the rather short James "Stump" Cross & the very short Eddie "Stumpy" Hartman. They were all-round entertainers, jazz singers, tap dancers, & funnymen extraordinaire. the comedy team of Lewis & White. They were a "round the world" chitlin circuit regulars since the 1920s, playing everywhere from the Apollo in Harlem to the Orpheum in Seattle The final act is Lucky Millinder's orchestra, a full reel to himself.

                $10.00
 
 BodySoul.jpg (4761 bytes) "BODY AND SOUL": An extremely rare film that marks the acting debut of Robeson in this Oscar Micheaux directed silent film. Robeson is caste in dual roles: as a corrupt preacher and his good brother. This is the story of a minister gone corrupt who associates with the owner of a house of gambling, from whom he extorts money. He forces a girl of his church to steal her mother's savings and leave home. He later kills the girl's brother, when the brother attempts to rescue the girl. But, when its all said and done it's only a dream.  Required to give a balance to his theme by the New York Censors, Micheaux changed the preacher's role so that he is preacher, then detective, then finally an uplift bourgeois future husband for the heroine. 1925/BW/Silent/60mins..  DVD    $10.00 
 
Paul Robeson Thumbnail image of Borderline (1930)"BORDERLINE": "RARE" Paul Robeson film, also featuring his wife Eslanda Robeson,   PLOT: Adah [Eslanda], a Black woman, has an affair with Thorne, a white man, much to the dismay of some of the prejudiced townsfolk and Thorne's wife, Astrid. Adah [Eslanda] attempts a reconciliation with her man, Pete [Robeson], but eventually leaves him and the town. Meanwhile, Astrid goes mad and cuts Thorne's face and arm with a knife,  then mysteriously dies. Thorne is tried but acquitted. Meanwhile, Pete is subjected to racist comments from Astrid and an old lady. After the death of Astrid, these racist feelings lead to Pete being treated as an outcast. Because of the events, the mayor sends Pete [Robeson] a letter asking him to leave town for the good of all concerned. 1930/BW/Silent         filmed by Brits in Switzerland. It's an independent silent film production funded by a group of white intellectuals, as a commentary against racism.
           $19.95  [NOTE: This is a special order title from my collector contact, allow additional time for delivery]
 
 "BOY, WHAT GIRL! / MURDER ON LENOX AVENUE":   Boy, What A Girl:   Two smooth-talking producers are trying to raise money for their musical review. They line up a potential backer who will put up half the cash if they can find someone else to Co-finance the production. The duo enlist the services of a cigar-smoking cross-dresser named "Bumpsie" (Tim Moore), who poses as the wealthy "Madame Deborah" to fool the backer. Their scheme goes smoothly - until the real Madame shows up! Madness and mayhem mix with jam sessions at a Harlem roof party where legendary drummer Gene Krupa performs a surprise drum solo. Famous Black entertainers include Big Sid Catlett and his band, The Slam Stewart Trio, Deek Watson and The Brown Dots, and The International Jitterbugs. Tim Moore is known to millions of fans as George "Kingfish" Stevens, of the extremely popular "Amos 'n' Andy" television show (1951-1953). He played in musical revues on Broadway and in Europe before embarking on a movie career that includes His Great Chance (1923) and Darktown Revue (1931). Moore had already retired from 50 years of performing when he was cast as "Kingfish."       Murder on Lenox Avenue:  A promoter in Harlem forms a Better Business League, but is kicked out after being accused of mismanagement. They replace him with Pa, a respected man in the community. Ola, Pa's daughter, is in love with a teacher, but Pa wants her to marry Jim (Ernie Ransom) who is loved by Mercedes. Ola marries the teacher and moves down south. Meanwhile, the former League president plots to get even with Pa. He gets Jim to plant a bomb in the hall where Pa will be speaking. The bomb is discovered and removed, but Ola reads of the threat and returns from the south. Ola arrives at the hall while her father is giving a speech denouncing the attempt on his life. As a last desperate attempt to regain power, one of the conspirators tries to shoot Pa, but co-conspirator Jim steps in the way of the bullet and is killed.  1941/BW/60mins.  $10.00   
 
"BRIGHT ROAD" Based on an award-winning short story by Mary Elizabeth Vroman, the film is largely set at a rural Black school in an unspecified Southern community.  An idealistic new fourth-grade teacher Jane Richards (Dorothy Dandridge) makes it her mission in life to "reach" troublesome failing student C. T. Young (Philip Hepburn). Just when Jane and the boy are making progress, tragedy strikes, plunging C. T. into the depths of depression and defeatism. With the help of the school's compassionate principal (Harry Belafonte), Jane is able to get C. T. back on the right track—and as a bonus, the boy becomes an unexpected hero in a moment of crisis. Handled in a leisurely, understated fashion,        MGM shed its glamorous image and bucked conventional wisdom when it financed Bright Road, a low-budget 1953 drama with an almost all-black cast. Even as an African-American film, Bright Road was an anomaly for the period, being neither a musical nor a treatment of racial issues. Instead it was a simple story of a rural teacher in an unnamed southern school trying to reach a problem child. Yet its quiet daring has earned it a faithful fan following, particularly in light of the starring performances of Dorothy Dandridge and Harry Belafonte before they became major stars.  Bright Road was adapted from a Christopher Award-winning story by West Indian schoolteacherBW-69m.         $25.00  $19.95   [NOTE: This is a special order title from my collector contact, allow additional time for delivery]

"BRONZE BUCKAROO/ JUKE JOINT/GO DOWN DEATH/ BLOOD OF JESUS":         Bronze Buckaroo: Herb Jeffries, Lucius Brooks, Artie Young and Spencer Williams, Jr. are cowpokes who avenge the death of a friend's father. 1937/BW/60min  Juke Joint: Directed by & stars Spencer Williams, Jr. with July Jones. A drama about a pair of drifters who try to repay their landladies kindness by rescuing her daughter from slick talking man. 1947/BW/70mins.  Blood of Jesus: Written and starring Spencer William's, Jr. A sinful husband accidentally kills his newly baptized wife. 1941/BW/45mins. Go Down Death: Folk-like drama, strong on religion. Minister try's to close down clubs on Sunday, but one club owner retaliates. He takes pre-arranged photos of the Minister in a compromising position, to black mail him. One of the ministers church members knows what really happened and she also happened to be the woman who raised the corrupt club owner (Spencer Williams). When compromising photos are safely locked away by club owner, his dead father's ghost leads women to photos. While removing photos she's discovered by Spencer Williams, a struggle ensues which results in her death. After attending funeral, burial and church services, the club owner is haunted and taunted mentally by voices of guilt, until he goes crazy. Film ends with scenes of Hell as depicted from "Dante's Inferno", sucking in the corrupt club owner. 1945/BW/50 Minutes    $10.00   $7.50
      
 
"BROKEN STRINGS /GANG WAR"    "Broken Strings": Co-scripted and starring Clarence Muse with Sybil Lewis, William Washington. A classical violinist injures his fingers. The son becomes a violinist to earn the needed cash to restore his father's paralyzed hand. Much to his father's dismay, the son plays swing instead of classical music. 60 minutes.. This musical drama is loosely based on the film "The Jazz Singer." 1940/BW/60mins.  "Gang  War" (1940) Plot: War rages among New York mobsters over the profits from jukeboxes. Director: Leo C. Popkin. Cast: Ralph Cooper, Gladys Snyder, Reginald Fenderson, Laurence Criner, Monte Hawley, Ernest "Sunshine Sammy" Morrison. 1940/BW/54mins  $10.00
 
"BURLESQUE IN HARLEM / PARADISE IN HARLEM":  Paradise in Harlem: Black comic Lem Anderson is weary of doing his minstrel comedy on the vaudeville circuit. He dreams of becoming a serious stage actor and playing the lead in Shakespeare's Othello. As distant as this dream seems, it recedes even further when Lem witnesses a mob hit outside the theater. Forced to leave town or face death, Lem heads down south to find work, but his personal demons and a drinking habit bring this new life to ruin as well. Just as all seems lost, his impossible dream comes true when he is called back to New York to star in Othello. When the mobsters learn that he has returned to town, they resolve to silence him for good. 1939/BW/60min  Burlesque in Harlem: A provocative peek at a typical Harlem burlesque show, complete with racy slapstick comedy, bawdy blues singers, slick tap dancers, and voluptuous exotic showgirls in minimal attire. Legendary black comic, Pigmeat Markham, makes an appearance in a clever, fast-talking sketch about a sex clinic. Though tame by contemporary standards, these acts were definitely considered to be "adult entertainment" at the time. Burlesque in Harlem is a fascinating look at how society's mores have changed in the last half century.1949    DVD    $10.00 
 
 "CABIN IN THE SKY":  Glossy All-Black MGM musical with Eddie "Rochester" Anderson as a gambler whose soul becomes the prize in a contest between God and the Devil. Lena Horne, Ethel Waters, Rex Ingram, Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington are featured; Vincente Minnelli's first directing assignment. Songs include "Shine," "Happiness Is a Thing Called Joe," "Li'l Black Sheep," more. 98 min.1943/BW/  Audio commentary; theatrical trailer; bonus short "Studio Visit" (1946). Category: Musicals Director: Vincente Minnelli  Cast: Eddie 'Rochester' Anderson, Louis Armstrong, Bill Bailey, Willie Best, Lena Horne, Rex Ingram, Butterfly McQueen, Mantan Moreland, Oscar Polk, Kenneth Spencer, Ethel Waters     DVD    $19.95 
 
"CARMEN JONES"  In 1943, Oscar Hammerstein Jr. took Georges Bizet's opera Carmen, rewrote the lyrics, changed the characters from 19th century Spaniards to World War II-era African-Americans, switched the locale to a Southern military base, and the result was Carmen Jones. Dorothy Dandridge stars as Carmen Jones, tempestuous employee of a parachute factory Oscar Hammerstein It's All-Black revision of Bizet's "Carmen," brought to the screen by Otto Preminger.  Showcases Harry Belafonte as a handsome soldier whose love for sexy, conniving Dorothy Dandridge leads him to murder. Pearl Bailey, Olga James and Diahann Carroll also star in this classic.      1954/BW/105mins/         $10.00 
 
 
"A COLORED LIFE":  The Herb Jeffries Story, is a fascinating portrait of America s first "Black" singing Cowboy. Now 96-year-old Herb Jeffries has lived a legendary life. Star of such films as The Bronze Buckaroo, singer with Duke Ellington's band, TV personality, ladies man and accidental activist, the light-skinned Jeffries has struggled with his racial identity for nearly a century. A Colored Life is an honest, entertaining, and often humorous look at a charismatic personality who used his light complexion to survive--and thrive--in both the Black and white worlds.  $19.95

   "DARK MANHATTAN / /UNDERWORLD" Dark Manhattan  On the tough back streets of Harlem, thugs and crooks fight for control of the numbers racket. One small time hood, "Curly" Thorpe, is enlisted by the biggest mob boss in town, Larry B. Lee, to be his protégé. Curly takes over the operation, bringing a new level of brutality and greed to Lennox Avenue. Beautiful women, fast cars and hard cash are all that Curly cares about, but he steps on the wrong toes to get them. Tougher men than Curly now want him dead.  Starring Ralph Cooper, Cleo Herndon, Clarence Brooks, Jess Lee Brooks; Directed by Harry L. Fraser.  1937/BW/60mins.  Underworld: Directed by Oscar Micheaux   Paul Bronson lusts after the decadent world of nightclubs and casinos. His strongest desires are reserved for the dangerously voluptuous Dinah Jackson, but this beautiful temptress is really the "property" of mob boss LeRoy Giles. When jealous LeRoy gets wind of Dinah's cheating, he cuts off her money and kicks her out. An angry Dinah has LeRoy shot, and suspicion falls on Paul. Dinah is Paul's only alibi - and his only hope of avoiding a long walk down death row.  Starring Sol Johnson, Bee Freeman, "Slick" Chester, Ethel Moses, Oscar Polk; 1937/ BW/63mins.    $10.00

  "DEVIL's DAUGHTER, The [AKA: "Pocomania."] (1939) / CHLOE, LOVE IS CALLING (1934)"   "The Devil's Daughter,"  Nina Mae McKinney essays the title role of a phony voodoo high priestess in Haiti who clashes with her half-sister over their late father's banana plantation. With Ida James, Jack Carter and Hamtree Harrington. 114 min. total.  Drama Director: Marshall Neilan Cast: Olive Borden, Reed Howes, Molly O'Day, Philip Ober : NR B&W "Chloe", Love Is Calling" follows the child of a Black voodoo mistress from the Everglades as she discovers that she may really be the daughter of a white plantation owner. Taboo in its time for its depiction of interracial romance, this atmospheric drama stars Olive Borden, Reed Howes and Molly O'Day.   $10.00 

 

 

  "DECKS RAN RED, The:  Very hard to find, - In this sea-going suspense drama, Edwin Rumill (James Mason) is the former first mate of an ocean liner who leaps at the chance to have a vessel under his full command. However, the S.S. Berwind is no ship to write home about, a freighter from the mothball fleet whose captain has recently died. The crew is often ill-tempered, and Mahia (Dorothy Dandridge), the wife of the ship's cook, doesn't make anyone more comfortable with her flirtatious nature. Rumill learns that the bad attitude of his crew has a sinister undercurrent: two of the hands, Leroy Martin (Stuart Whitman) and Henry Scott (Broderick Crawford), have hatched a scheme to murder Rumill and the rest of the crew, bring in the ship as salvage, and sell it to the highest bidder, expecting to earn close to a million dollars. Rumill must rally support if he and the other men hope to survive. 1958/BW/90min./              $25.00 $19.95         [NOTE: This is a special order title from my collector contact, allow additional time for delivery]

Harlem Double Feature: Dirty Gertie From Harlem U.S.A. (1946) / Sepia Cinderella (1947) Boxart "DIRTY GERTIE FROM HARLEM USA / SEPIA CINDERELLA":   Dirty Gertie From Harlem U.S.A. (1946, B&W): Dancer Gertie La Rue is the toast of Harlem, but she's been two- timing her beau, Al, the man who put her in the spotlight. Fearing Al's retribution, Gertie drags her entire show troupe out to the remote island of Trinidad, where she hopes to lay low for a while. She's also managed to make her self imposed exile a lucrative one, setting up a residency at Diamond Joe's nightclub. While Gertie drinks, cusses, and flirts her way across Trinidad, dark clouds are gathering overhead; local revivalist Jonathan Christian is on a moral crusade to have her deported.     Sepia Cinderella (1947, B&W): Bob Jordan is an aspiring songwriter with a melody stuck in his head. Naive in the ways of love, he's having some trouble writing the lyrics for his would-be hit. Barbara, a fellow musician and secret admirer, helps him finish the romantic ballad. "Cinderella" becomes an instant smash, and as Jordan's career takes off, lovelorn Barbara can only watch as her man slips away. Fame is a fickle thing, though, and Bob's flirtation with the fast life is short. Loveless and jobless, his agent has a brilliant idea to get his career back on track - a Cinderella contest. The gimmick is simple; at Jordan's next show, every available woman in the audience will bring a single slipper. The owner of the slipper that Bob selects will be invited upstage to join him in performing a duet of his signature song. The big night arrives, and Barbara happens to be in the audience.        $10.00
 
"DOUBLE DEAL / MISTAKEN  IDENTITY [AKA Murder With Music]":   DVD   $10.00:        Double Deal: Robbery and murder are the sideshows at a nightclub run by crime boss Murray Howard. His shady henchmen, Dude and Sharpie, kill a security guard during a jewelry store heist. The getaway is clean, but they'd made the mistake of taking young Tommy McCoy along on the job. Now sweating with guilty panic, Tommy's suspicious behavior is bound to draw heat, so Dude devises a scheme to frame the kid for homicide. 1939/BW/60min   Mistaken Identity: (A.K.A. Murder with Music), Louis the piano player is murdered by a knife-throwing killer in the middle of a show at Bill Smith's nightclub. Music is the real highlight of Mistaken Identity  focusing most of its screen time on hot performances by The Skippy Williams Band Starring Nelle Hill, George Oliver, Bill Dillard, Ken Renard, Noble Sissle. 1941 
 
"HAREM RIDES THE RANGE / DIRTY GERTIE FROM HARLEM / MOON OVER HARLEM / THE BIG TIMERS":                Harlem Rides The Range:     Stars Herb Jeffries, Spencer Williams, Jr. and Clarence Brooks. The Singing cowboy is out to foil dastardly outlaws who stole the deed to a radium mine. 1939/BW/58mins.    Dirty Gertie From Harlem, USA: Gertie goes to Trinidad to hide from her boyfriend and finds fun and songs at a Harlem style variety show. A Spencer Williams directed film. 1946/BW/60mins.   Moon Over Harlem: Takes a look at the life, love and struggles of a family from Harlem  The Big Timers: A poor girl falls for an Army officer. Her mother pretends to own the hotel to encourage the romance. Stars Stepin Fetchit, Francine Everett, Duke William's and others. 1945/40mins      $10.00  $7.50
 
 "ELEVEN P.M".: RARE!!! Starring Richard Maurice, Leo Pope, Sammie Lane, H. Marion Williams. A writer has several appointments set for Eleven P.M. but falls asleep and dreams the plot for a new drama which includes a strange element of reincarnation. 1928/BW/Silent/60min         $19.95  $15.00     [NOTE: This is a special order title from my collector contact, allow additional time for delivery] 

"EMPEROR JONES": Playwright Eugene O'Neill's early work often combined memorable characters and stories with social commentary and innovative theatrical concepts--and among his first great successes was The Emperor Jones, which starred perhaps the single finest African American actor of the 1920s and 1930s, the legendary Paul Robeson. When United Artists purchased the screen rights, Robeson went with the package, and this 1933 film was the result. Plot: Paul Robeson a Pullman Porter in the depression era, is sent to prison for an accidental killing. He later escapes to a Caribbean island where he uses his superior intellect and physically intimidating presence to set himself up as "Emperor." But his own past troubles have hardened him.   He uses his position to bleed the population--and eventually they revolt against him. Cast:  Paul Robeson, Dudley Digges, Frank H. Wilson, Fredi Washington, Ruby Elzy, George Haymid Stamper, Brandon Evans,  Rex Ingram, Moms Mabley, Harold Nicholas, Blueboy O'Connor, Fritz Pollard, Lorenzo Tucker.     1933/BW/72mins..  $15.00
Did you know:     Jackie "Moms" Mabley and Fredie Washington were cast members in this film?  You may not recognize Fredi.  Because of her fair complexion censors thought white audiences would think Robeson had interaction with a white woman, so they made Washington wear dark make-up.    
 "EXILE, The":  A drama/romance of the "Race movie" genre, it was Micheaux's first feature-length talkie, and the first African American talkie. The central plot is        concerned with a young Black man [Baptiste] whose fiancée comes into ownership of a mansion located on South Parkway in Chicago.  The mansion serves as a combination cabaret and brothel. The young man, appalled, leaves the city for the plains of South Dakota where he meets a pretty young girl whom he assumes to be white. He becomes her friend and protector but the race barrier stands between them, until it is revealed that she is part Negro. He returns to Chicago where he is framed for murder by his ex-fiancée. The girl from South Dakota  takes a train to Chicago, where she and Baptiste are reunited; they marry and return to South Dakota.     Cast: Eunice Brooks, Stanley Morrell, Celeste Cole, Kathleen Noisette, Charles R. Moore, Nora Newsome, George Randol, A.B. DeComathiere, Carl Mahon, Lou Vernon, Louise Cook, Roland Holder, Donald Heywood, Don Heywood and His Band, Leonard Harper, Leonard Harper and His Chorines. 1931/BW/        $19.95  $15.00     [NOTE: This is a special order title from my collector contact, allow additional time for delivery]

NOTE: Micheaux often refer to the "One-drop rule" in this and many of his films.  It's clear that in his time's the "conception" of race, defines her as Black. The plot gives Micheaux plenty of opportunity to stage nightclub acts, notably singer Celeste Cole, dancer Louise Cook tap dancing" Roland Holder dancer, and Don Heywood and His Band, as well as a bevy of chorus girl.

"FLYING FOR FREEDOM" Flying for Freedom tells the story of how some of the best pilots, mechanics and servicemen in the United States military were forced to beat the odds, train in segregated facilities and engage in separate missions, all because of the color of their skin.  Uncovering forgotten stories and fading memories, Flying for Freedom follows the tales of these men from their early beginnings to receiving the Congressional Gold Medal in March of 2007. Part history lesson and part social heritage, this moving new high definition documentary provides a very sobering inside look at the changing face of racism during a time when Black soldiers and heroes of WWII returned home to an America not ready to accept them as equals. Flying for Freedom is filled with the emotional and personal first-hand accounts of why these men battled against the system, how it affected their lives and propelled the winds of change across the future of the country they served... and loved.  2008/BW-Color    $19.95

"GANG SMASHERS [AKA Gun Moll]"    Nina Mae McKinney plays a dame who runs the Harlem rackets.  Ralph Cooper wrote the screen play for this film that also stars, Monte Hawley, Mantan Moreland, Edward Thompson, Lawrence Criner, Vernon McCalla and others.    Release date: 1938 Runtime: 70 min Genre: Crime, Music
Starring: Nina Mae McKinney, Monte Hawley, Reginald Fenderson, Mantan Moreland, Edward Thompson, Vernon McCalla, Charles Hawkins, Everett Brown, Lester Wilkins,
    1938/BW/65mins.    $19.95  $15.00     [NOTE: This is a special order title from my collector contact, allow additional time for delivery]

"GANG WAR / BROKEN STRING"   "Gang War" (1940) Plot: War rages among New York mobsters over the profits from jukeboxes. Director: Leo C. Popkin. Cast: Ralph Cooper, Gladys Snyder, Reginald Fenderson, Laurence Criner, Monte Hawley, Ernest "Sunshine Sammy" Morrison. 1940/BW/54mins "Broken Strings": Co-scripted and starring Clarence Muse with Sybil Lewis, William Washington. A classical violinist injures his fingers. The son becomes a violinist to earn the needed cash to restore his father's paralyzed hand. Much to his father's dismay, the son plays swing instead of classical music. 60 minutes.. This musical drama is loosely based on the film "The Jazz Singer." 1940/BW/60mins.  $10.00
 
  "GREEN PASTURES, The"      In this 1936 film version of the Connelly play, Rex Ingram is nothing less than brilliant as De Lawd, speaking the most ludicrous of lines with dignity and quiet authority. Others in the All-Black cast include Eddie "Rochester" Anderson as Noah, Frank Wilson as Moses, George Reed as Rev. Deshee, and Oscar Polk as Gabriel, who has the film's single most stirring line: "Gangway! Gangway for de Lawd God Jehovah!"  DVD    $19.95 .
 
"GIRL FROM CHICAGO / SON OF INGAGI / The GIRL IN ROOM 20 / LYING LIPS":    DVD $10.00    Girl From Chicago: A secret agent falls for a Mississippi schoolteacher who moves to New York. Written and Directed by Oscar Micheaux.1932/BW/69mins. Lying Lips: A night club chanteuse is setup for a crime. Her detective/boyfriend tries to uncover the killer. Stars Earl Jones (father of James Earl Jones) Edna Mae Harris and others. Oscar Micheaux director. 1939/BW/70mins. Son of Ingagi:   Directed by and staring Spencer Williams.  The first All-Black horror film, A scientist who is wealthy and a recluse wills her fortune and a gloomy old house to a newlywed, the daughter of the man that she once loved but who did not return her love. The scientist has brought back from Africa an ape man who drinks a potion she has concocted in the laboratory. The ape man turns on her and kills her. Later, he murders an attorney who is searching for $20,000 in gold that the scientist has hidden in her home. Zeno, brother of the scientist and ex-convict, finds the money but is discovered by the ape-man. Zeno fires on him, but is killed by the ape-man before he dies. A detective finally recovers the gold and presents it to the newlyweds.  Girl In Room 20: Directed by & stars Spencer Williams, Jr. with July Jones. A small town girl goes to New York to make her way as a singer. 1947/BW/60mins.      $10.00     $7.50
 
"GOD’s STEPCHILDREN / GIRL IN ROOM 20":   God's Stepchildren Written, Directed & Produced by Oscar Micheaux. PLOT: A light-skinned African-American girl, Naomi (Jacqueline Lewis), abandoned by her birth mother, denounces her own race in this controversial melodrama. When Naomi's teacher (Ethel Moses) takes umbrage to the girl's statement that "God didn't make Negroes" ("we're all God's children," Mrs. Cushinberry replies), Naomi spreads a false rumor that the teacher is having an affair with a married professor. A riot ensues, and Naomi is shipped off to a convent by her distraught mother (Alice B. Russell, Micheaux's wife) for 12-years. Returning to the family farm years later, a grown-up Naomi (Gloria Press) falls for her step-brother Jimmy (Carmen Newsome) who she can't have. Encouraged to marry a dark skinned Negro, she gives birth to a baby boy only to leave him with her foster mother. She leaves, marries a white man once again denouncing the "Negro race." When her new husband discovers Naomi's race, he turns her out, and the disgraced woman drowns herself in a river. Stars Alice Russell, Carmen Newsome & others. 1937/BW/65mins. Girl In Room 20: Spencer Williams film. Geraldine Brock, is a country girl who journeys to New York. Her presence attracts every con man and hustler in the Big Apple. After being victimized and exploited by a number of disreputable types, Brock finally wises up-but not soon enough for a peaches 'n' cream happy ending.  DVD    $10.00 
 
"JAZZ 10-PACK:" :Synopsis: For movie buffs and collectors alike! This star-filled movie pack has been carefully remastered on DVD for hours of home entertainment.   There are 10 films from the All-Black Cast film era, with a Jazz performance in each show/film/soundie.  $10.00    Set includes: 
 
1. "Check and Double Check "
2. "Duke is Tops, The {AKA Bronze Venus]"
3. "Hi-De-Ho"
4. "Killer Diller"
5. "Paradise in Harlem"
6. "Reet, Petite & Gone"
7. "Rhythm and Blues Revue[Showtime At Apollo  1954-55]
8. "Rock N' Roll Revue"    [Showtime At Apollo  1954-55]
9. "Soundies Cavalcade"
10. "Soundies Festival"
 
"At The JAZZ BAND BALL"  Get ready for 60 minutes of pure enjoyment performed by Jazz greats in the early days of sound film [1925 - 1933].In the mid-1920's, just as jazz was firmly establishing itself as America's dominant popular music form, new advancements in motion picture technology allowed sound to be recorded along with moving pictures, and as a fortunate consequence many of the great artists of the first renaissance of jazz were captured by "talking picture" camera. At The Jazz Band Ball: Early Hot Jazz, Song and Dance is a documentary which compiles rare archival footage of a number of legendary artists, including Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington (leading the Cotton Club Orchestra), Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, The Boswell Sisters, The Dorsey Brothers, and many more. This collection also features the only known filmed performances of pioneering blues vocalist Bessie Smith, and the highly influential cornet man Bix Beiderbecke.
 
        1. DORSEY BROTHERS BAND" (1929), Get Out and Get Under the Moon
        2. DUKE ELLINGTON and his Orchestra (1930), Old Man Blues
        3. BOSWELL SISTERS" (1931), Heebie Jeebies    
        4. Dance contest with James Barton, the Harlem Lindy Hoppers, and Chick Webb's Band (1929), Sweet Sue/Tiger Rag
        5. LOUIS ARMSTRONG and his Orchestra, I Cover the Waterfront/Dinah/Tiger Rag
        6. PAUL WHITEMAN and his Orchestra with BIX BEIDERBECKE (1928), My Ohio Home (2 transfers: 1st Normal, 2nd with close ups)
        7. BILL ROBINSON in his famous step dance (1932), Swanee River    
        8. DUKE ELLINGTON and his Orchestra with Fredi Washington (1929), Medley: The Duke Steps Out/Black Beauty/Cotton Club Stomp
        9. CHARLIE WELLMAN (1930), Alabamy Snow
        10. LOUIS ARMSTRONG and his Orchestra (1931), Chinatown, My Chinatown/High Society
        11. BESSIE SMITH (1929), St. Louis Blues
        12. TESSIE MAIZE and her Darktown Strutters (1930), Someday Sweetheart
        13. TOMMY CHRISTIAN and his Orchestra (1928), Who Is It? Who?/Tommy Christian Stomp
        14. Unknown tap duet with band (1931), Whistle and Blow Your Blues Away/Mandy
        15. BEN BERNIE and his Orchestra (1925), Sweet Georgia Brown
        16. RUBY DARBY (1930), Tell The World He's Mine    
                                                                            DVD/    $19.95 

                                                                                                         

Harlem Double Feature: Jivin' In Be Bop (1946) / Beware (1946) Boxart "JIVIN IN BE-BOP /  BEWARE"          Jivin' In Be-Bop (1946, B&W):   Dizzy Gillespie takes center stage and hosts an old time variety show from the "Chitlin Circuit" captured in its entirety. Jivin' in Be Bop features one smash show-stopping tune after another performed by Dizzy and His Orchestra intermingled with hilarious vaudeville routines. Starring Dizzy Gillispie and His Orchestra, Helen Humes, Ray Sneed Sanji, Freddie Carter and Ralph Brown; Directed by Leonard Anderson and Spencer Williams; Screenplay by Powell Lindsay; Produced by William D. Anderson.  Beware (1946, B&W): Ware College is about to close its doors forever because its endowment has run dry. A last minute appeal to famous alumni brings the college's plight to the attention of Louis Jordan. Jordan, known as King of the Jukebox, set things right by hounding the good-for-nothing grandson of Ware College's founder into spending his fortune on education rather than fast living. Beware features over a half dozen numbers by jazz great Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five. Starring Louis Jordon and his Tympany Five, Frank Wilson, Emory Richardson, Valerie Black, Milton Woods, Joseph Hilliard, Tommy Hix, Dimples Daniels; Produced and Directed by Bud Pollard.         $10.00
 
"HALLELUJAH"     The first All-Black Cast film produced by a major studio, HALLELUJAH represented the culmination of King Vidor's long-standing desire to do a project dealing with the lives of African Americans, strongly influenced by his childhood experience in Galveston, Texas. The film stars Daniel Hayes as Zeke Johnson, an impoverished young sharecropper living in South Carolina. When he and his brother Spunk (Everett McGarritty) go north to sell their cotton crop, Daniel falls for the seductive Chick (Nina Mae McKinney) without realizing she's a shill for the rigged crap game of her lover, Hot Shot (William Fountaine). Finally grasping the scam, Daniel fights with Hot Shot, but his brother is fatally shot during the struggle.

The grief-stricken Zeke is reborn as a preacher, traveling the country, spreading the word of the Lord. The cynical Chick appears among the congregation at one of his revival meetings and finds herself moved by his sermonizing. After Daniel baptizes her in the river, the couple elopes, and he finds work in a sawmill. But Chick's innate restlessness will again create problems for her new husband. Although now somewhat dated, the film was probably the closest approximation of African-American life put onscreen up to that time. The film's outstanding, meticulously researched soundtrack, ranging from jazz to spirituals, derives from the director's lifelong affinity for such music. 1929/BW/1HR 40MINS. 
 DVD    $19.95 

                                                                    Did you know?  Nina Mae McKinney

 
"HARLEM GLOBETROTTERS, The": The story of the legendary Harlem Globetrotters takes second place to the rise to prominence of All-American athlete Billy Brown (a star Globetrotter, here playing himself). While still in college, Brown drops his education in favor of joining the famed basketball team. Lacking the esprit de corps of his teammates, Brown is only interested in fattening his bank account. It takes a few major setbacks, coupled with the no-nonsense devotion of his sweetheart Ann Carpenter (a surprisingly subdued Dorothy Dandridge) to realign Brown's priorities. Thomas Gomez heads the cast as Abe Saperstein, the real-life entrepreneur who organized the Trotters back in 1927. Oddly enough, The Harlem Globetrotters suggests that the team is comprised of serious hoopsters, rather than the zany clowns we've come to know and love.    DVD    $25.00         $19.95

"HARLEM IS HEAVEN":  1932 - . Starring - Bill Robinson, John Mason, Putney Dandridge, Jimmy Baskett, Anise Boyer, Henri Wressell, Alma Smith, Bob Sawyer, John Mason, Ferdie Lewis, Myra Johnson, Margaret Jenkins, Jeli Smith, Slick Chester, Thomas Mosley, George Nagel, Naomi Price, Jackie Young, Eubie Blake and his Orchestra. ... The story is woven around the true life experiences of Robinson. It has to do with the adventures of a beautiful young actress just arrived from the south and the manner in which she is aided and befriended by Bill, star of a musical revue of a leading Harlem theatre. How the girl, Jean Stratton played by Anise Boyer, falls in love with the juvenile of the show, Chummy Walker is told with skill and the many complications and thrills that ensue are vividly portrayed.          $25.00   $19.95    [NOTE: This is a special order title from my collector contact, allow additional time for delivery]

 
 
  "IMITATION OF LIFE":  Louise Beavers & Fredi Washington, so find myself always wanting to prefer the older version, but Beavers is burdened by a script that wanted her to be as tragic as a hurt puppy instead of a human being, & this weakens the whole text.
The great thing about the story, however, is how Louise Beavers' standard "maid" character Delilah very soon finds herself going into the pancake flour business with Bee Pullman (Claudette Colbert), the woman who initially hired her as a maid.  Delilah had a fantastic family recipe & Bee had the business & advertising acumen to make "Aunt Delilah Pancake Mix" a success with Deliah's face on the logo as a classic Aunt Jemima.   Delilah's devotion to "Miss Bee" is sometimes, alas, slavish. This submissive attitude is in the remake written out of the story somewhat, despite that in the remake, where Delilah is renamed Annie (Juanita Moore), has her playing a maid to a stage actress & her role is a lot less inherently interesting than Beavers' as business partner. It's just that Juanita Moore as Annie smuggles into the role a considerable independence, whereas Louise Beavers as Delilah played what was put before her. Though Fredi's role is subsidiary to the tale of Bee & Delilah going into business, it is such a weighty part of the tale that it dominates.
And as Fredi Washington was herself a light-skinned black woman who could've passed for white if she'd wanted to, the role got a lot of attention.
1950S   For the remake, Peola is renamed Sarah Jane, & is played first by a white child (Karin Dicker) then by a white woman of Mexican & Czech heritage (Susan Kohner).
A side-note on the remake, it features Mahalia Jackson at the extravagant funeral singing "Trouble of the World.    Double  DVD Set    $26.95

 
Imitation of Life
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
"INTERNATIONAL SWEETHEARTS OF RHYTHM" This remarkable remastered film profiles legendary jazz trumpeter Tiny Davis and her partner of over 40 years, drummer-pianist Ruby Lucas, Tiny & Ruby: Hell Divin' Women weaves together rare jazz recordings, live performances, vintage photographs, and narrative poetry by Cheryl Clarke.  The film establishes an informal, intimate style in which 78-year-old Tiny demonstrates that her "chops" and humor are both quite intact.
This toe-tapping music film tells the story of the swinging, multi-racial all-women jazz band of the 1940s. A 16 piece band with a strong brass section, heavy percussion, and a deep rhythmic sense, the Sweethearts were not just a novelty but featured many of the best female musicians of the day.
Maxine Sullivan: Love to Be In Love is a long-overdue film portrait of the once famous, and now, largely forgotten jazz vocalist Maxine Sullivan. Sullivan won fame in the 1930s with swing renditions of traditional songs like "Loch Lomond" and "Annie Laurie."  By the late 1930s she became the foremost Black, female vocalist in America, inspiring young musicians like Ella Fitzgerald. Film footage, vintage photographs, reminiscences by other jazz luminaries, as well as Sullivan's wonderfully seductive music are used to tell her story.  Though largely absent from the jazz scene in the 1950s, she returned to perform in the late 1960s; at one point turning out an album every three months. She never retired and continued to work till her death in 1987. 
Bonus feature: interview with the filmmakers at Lincoln Center, NY at the 20th Anniversary screening hosted by New York Women in Film and TV (NYWIFT)      $19.95

"ISLAND IN THE SUN" Political intrigue and romantic gamesmanship send an already torrid Caribbean community to the boiling point in this drama. Maxwell Fleury (James Mason) and David Boyeur (Harry Belafonte) are two men running for political office in a British-controlled island in the West Indies. Maxwell is the son of a wealthy and socially prominent white family, while David is a black labor leader with a groundswell of popular support but little money. A scandal erupts in the press alleging that Maxwell is of mixed racial ancestry, but Maxwell is actually pleased about the news, thinking that it may endear him to black voters. Maxwell is not pleased, however, when he hears that his wife Sylvia (Patricia Owens) has been having an affair with the urbane but rootless Carson (Michael Rennie), taking the matter seriously enough to murder Carson himself. Maxwell's younger sister Jocelyn (Joan Collins) is also in hot water, romantically speaking; she has set her sights on Eun Templeton (Stephen Boyd), the son of the Island's governor, and she hopes to snare him into marriage by allowing him to get her pregnant. Elsewhere on the island, David is secretly having an affair with a white woman, Mavis Norman (Joan Fontaine), while David's former girlfriend, Margot Seaton (Dorothy Dandridge), has become involved with a white man, Denis Archer (John Justin). Based on the novel by Alex Waugh, Island in the Sun also features songs from Harry Belafonte, including "Lead Man Holler" and the title tune.      $19.95   $15.00

 
"KEEP PUNCHING":    Former boxer Henry Armstrong stars as a fighter who is seduced by the high life and fast women. Henry Jackson [Armstrong] is the pride of his small town. He wins a golden gloves title and later goes to New York with his manager Ed Watson despite opposition from his father and sweetheart, Fanny. He meets an old school chum, Frank, who turns out to be a cold blooded gambler betting that Henry loses the fight. On the day of the fight, a plot to drug Henry's liquor just before he leaves to fight is thwarted 1948/BW/80mins.     $15.00  $10.00    [NOTE: This is a special order title from my collector contact, allow additional time for delivery]
                           

"KILLER DILLER":  When the regular stage magician fails to appear for a scheduled show, Dusty Fletcher shows up in his place by materializing out of thin air in theater manager Dumdome's office. Dusty hasn't quite mastered the magic show's mysterious stage props-closets that make people vanish. When Dumdome's fiancée, Lola, and her new pearl necklace disappear, the enraged manager tells his secretary, Butterfly McQueen, to call in the police. Fortunately for Dusty, the cops are more clueless than he is, giving him plenty of time to court cute Butterfly as they pursue him.
The Nat "King" Cole Trio, Jackie "Moms" Mabley, The Clark Brothers, the Andy Kirk Orchestra and many more talented performers make this a magical delight. Dusty Fletcher shows off the masterful command of slapstick farce that made him one of the godfathers of Black comedy. Butterfly McQueen is best remembered for her memorable portrayal of Prissy in the 1939 classic Gone With The Wind. Jackie "Moms" Mabley began working in show business in 1908, and after many decades of success in the Black circuits, found mainstream fame in the 1960s.   DVD   $10.00
 
King Solomon's Mines"KING SOLOMON'S MINE": Adventure film about the search for King Solomon's diamond mine. Robeson and Cedric Hardwick endure violent sandstorms, attacks by Zulu tribesmen and volcano eruptions.  The classic story of action, danger and fabulous wealth in the wilds of darkest Africa Stars Cedric Hardwick as adventurer Allan Quartermain, with support from Paul Robeson (who sings in the film), Roland Young and Anna Lee. The plot gets under way when Anna Lee organizes an expedition to locate her father, who has disappeared in the wilds of Africa while searching for King Solomon's Mines, a legendary diamond repository. Umbopa's motivation for guiding the expedition is to reclaim the tribal throne wrested from him by treacherous witch-doctor Gagool (Sidney Fairbrother). At first treated as white gods by the natives, the explorers soon find their lives imperiled. Thanks to Umbopa's know-how, the whites are saved from a horrible death and the evil tribesmen are overthrown. As for King Solomon's Mines, Quartermaine and his party finally locate the fabled diamond cache—and then fate deals an ironic hand, as fate has a habit of doing. 89 min. 1937/BW/81min     DVD     $10.00
DID YOU KNOW:    The first of three talkie versions of H. Rider Haggard's adventure novel King Solomon's Mine was produced by British Gaumont. While Cedric Hardwick plays the nominal leading role of explorer Alan Quartermaine, top billing goes to Paul Robeson, who plays dauntless native- guide Umbopa.
"LUCKY GHOST / SPIRIT OF YOUTH":         Lucky Ghost: Mantan Moreland and Flournoy E. Miller do a bug-eyed bit in this fun-filled supernatural comedy filled with pratfalls and wacky situations. The two having been sent to another state by a judge, have a supernatural run of luck. Mantan's luck at dice wins them clothes, a car, his life, a club and money. Spirit of Youth: The theme of the picture is that a prize fighter who forfeits his training for fun and frivolity discovers that he has made a big mistake. Joe (Joe Louis) leaves his home to find a better job to support his crippled father, and eventually finds himself in the sport of boxing. After success in the Golden Gloves, he headed for the top when trouble in the form of a cabaret singer sidetracks him from his goal. After neglecting his training, the young boxer loses a match and his true love at the same time. But, for unexpected reasons, Joe's silent and suffering girlfriend makes a last-minute appearance at the ring where Joe is losing a match. Inspired by her appearance, the opponent is soon knocked out, Joe wins the world champion –ship as well as the girl.      $10.00 
 
MARK OF THE HAWK:  Filmed on location in Africa, Mark of the Hawk stars Sidney Poitier as a London-educated African who returns to his homeland to take a political post. Poitier's brother Clinton Macklin is in charge of a rebel organization, determine to topple the white-dominated government. Poitier must choose between seeking out racial equality through peaceful means, or casting his lot with Macklin: it is (at least in this film) a struggle of Right against Right. Cast: Patrick Allen, Gerard Heinz, Juan Hernandez, Eartha Kitt, Marne Maitland, Francis Matthews, John McIntire, Lionel Ngakane, Sidney Poitier, Ewen Solon, Frederick Treves Sidney             $5.00 
 
"MIDNIGHT SHADOW": Synopsis: Margaret Wilson is the daughter of a well-respected small town family, who is courted by local man Buster Barnett and a traveling carnival mentalist, Prince Alihabad. When Margaret's father turns up dead after showing his oil well deed to his daughter's suitors, she decides to track down her father's killer herself. Hiring a private investigator and his bumbling assistant, the three set out to bring the murderer to justice.  George Randol & Alfred N. Sack , Starring Frances Redd, Co-Starring Buck Woods, Richard Bates  1939/BW/60mins.  DVD    $10.00
 
"MARCHING ON (WHERE IS MY MAN TONIGHT)":    Spencer Williams, Jr. directed this docu-drama about the 25th infantry and shows the harsh treatment of Black's in WW II.  A young man fighting with the emotional baggage of being in the service, Black and afraid of war. he eventually deserts the army; escaping on a freight train where he befriends a hobo. Both jump off the moving train to avoid detected where the , hobo is hurt and dies. Before dying it is revealed that the hobo was the soldiers dad, who had been reported killed in the war  Instead he had been roaming around with amnesia all along. The young man passes out in the desert and unbelievably is found by his Grandfather. He and his Grandfather accidentally discover a Japanese radio post in the mountains. Grandfather is killed during struggle with Japanese, as other U.S. soldiers arrive to save the day. The AWOL soldier is given second chance as he has seen the error of his ways. This film stresses patriotism and the contribution of Blacks to the war effort.    1943/BW/83mins.     $10.00
 
"MOVIES OF COLOR: BLACK SOUTHERN CINEMA": In the 1930s and '40s a surprising hotbed of independent filmmaking was in the Southern U.S., where African-American actors and creators made a wide variety of movies for mostly Black audiences. A panel of scholars discuss the relationship between the South and independent Black filmmakers.  Learn about the financial and social constraints these artists faced, and see examples of their work, in this revealing program. Also included are the short films by Spencer Williams, jr.  "The Blood of Jesus" (1941) and "Go Down Death" (1944). 162 min.  
 
Harlem Double Feature: Double Deal (1939) / Mistaken Identity (1941) Boxart "MISTAKEN IDENTITY [AKA MURDER WITH MUSIC] / DOUBLE DEAL":    Mistaken Identity: (A.K.A. Murder with Music), Louis the piano player is murdered by a knife-throwing killer in the middle of a show at Bill Smith's nightclub. Music is the real highlight of Mistaken Identity  focusing most of its screen time on hot performances by The Skippy Williams Band Starring Nelle Hill, George Oliver, Bill Dillard, Ken Renard, Noble Sissle. 1941     Double Deal: Robbery and murder are the sideshows at a nightclub run by crime boss Murray Howard. His shady henchmen, Dude and Sharpie, kill a security guard during a jewelry store heist. The getaway is clean, but they'd made the mistake of taking young Tommy McCoy along on the job. Now sweating with guilty panic, Tommy's suspicious behavior is bound to draw heat, so Dude devises a scheme to frame the kid for homicide. 1939/BW/60min     DVD    $10.00 
 
"MIRACLE IN HARLEM":  1948 / 5 reels / Black and White  / 35mm / 80 minutes / Jack Kemp, Director
Synopsis: Aunt Hattie, a religious and kindly old woman who operates a candy store with her niece, Julie, is swindled by a chain-store owner who tricks them out of their store. When he and his son are murdered, Julie is included as a suspect; finally it is revealed the murders were committed by the chain-store owner's secretary, who stood to inherit the business and its fortune  $15.00 
  [NOTE: This is a special order title from my collector contact, allow additional time for delivery]
 
"MURDER IN HARLEM / HARLEM RIDES THE RANGE":      Murder in Harlem  Oscar Micheaux wrote and directed this film about a night watchman who discovers the body of a murdered white woman. Reporting it to the police, the watchman himself is accused of the crime, and so begins his nightmare, trying to clear his name and prove his innocence. 1935   Harlem Rides The Range: Tall and true in the saddle, Bob Blake [Herb Jeffries] and his comic sidekick, Dusty, ride into trouble when the owner of a radium mine is murdered and evidence points to Blake! When the real killer reveals himself and threatens to kill the miner's beautiful daughter, Blake must bust out of jail to set things straight!. 1939/BW/60min.     $10.00 
 
 "MURDER ON LENOX AVENUE / BOY, WHAT GIRL!":  Murder on Lenox Avenue:  A promoter in Harlem forms a Better Business League, but is kicked out after being accused of mismanagement. They replace him with Pa, a respected man in the community. Ola, Pa's daughter, is in love with a teacher, but Pa wants her to marry Jim (Ernie Ransom) who is loved by Mercedes. Ola marries the teacher and moves down south. Meanwhile, the former League president plots to get even with Pa. He gets Jim to plant a bomb in the hall where Pa will be speaking. The bomb is discovered and removed, but Ola reads of the threat and returns from the south. Ola arrives at the hall while her father is giving a speech denouncing the attempt on his life. As a last desperate attempt to regain power, one of the conspirators tries to shoot Pa, but co-conspirator Jim steps in the way of the bullet and is killed.  1941/BW/60mins.   Boy, What A Girl:   Two smooth-talking producers are trying to raise money for their musical review. They line up a potential backer who will put up half the cash if they can find someone else to Co-finance the production. The duo enlist the services of a cigar-smoking cross-dresser named "Bumpsie" (Tim Moore), who poses as the wealthy "Madame Deborah" to fool the backer. Their scheme goes smoothly - until the real Madame shows up! Madness and mayhem mix with jam sessions at a Harlem roof party where legendary drummer Gene Krupa performs a surprise drum solo. Famous Black entertainers include Big Sid Catlett and his band, The Slam Stewart Trio, Deek Watson and The Brown Dots, and The International Jitterbugs. Tim Moore is known to millions of fans as George "Kingfish" Stevens, of the extremely popular "Amos 'n' Andy" television show (1951-1953). He played in musical revues on Broadway and in Europe before embarking on a movie career that includes His Great Chance (1923) and Darktown Revue (1931). Moore had already retired from 50 years of performing when he was cast as "Kingfish."       $10.00   
 
MYSTERY IN SWING / HI-DE-HO  DVD  $10.00     MYSTERY IN SWING.  A whodunit set to swing. Prince Ellis, a debonair musician devastates women with his charm and cool trumpeting. 1940/BW/66mins   HI-DE-HO: Cab Calloway stars as a bandleader caught between rival gangs. Dusty Fletcher, Jeni Le Gon and The Miller Brothers Co-star. 1946/BW/46mins. 
 
  "NATIVE SON":    Original version of Wright's novel by the same name.. The story involves Bigger Thomas [Wright], an angry Depression-era Chicago black who hopes to elevate himself through his chauffeur's job with a prosperous white Gold Coast family. The family's daughter takes advantage of Bigger's servile status by ordering him to drive her to a rendezvous with her communist-activist lover. Their "parlor liberal" attitude both pleases and confuses Bigger, as do the girl's apparent sexual advance towards him. One evening, Bigger drives the girl home after she's gotten herself drunk. She flirts harmlessly with him in her bedroom; when her blind mother stumbles onto the scene, the terrified Bigger, certain that he'll be accused of rape, tries to muffle the girl so she can't talk. He accidentally kills her, whereupon the panicky Bigger hides the body and tries to pin the girl's "kidnapping" on her lover. Tragedy piles upon tragedy before Bigger's climactic murder trial and execution; throughout, we are given the impression that this sorry state of affairs would never have taken place without the Black-white tensions and divisiveness that existed in 1930s, and which still exist to this day.  90mins                  $15.00  $10.00 
Color/BW: Black and White [NOTE: This is a special order title from my collector contact, allow additional time for delivery]

 
New Orleans - Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Kid Ory "NEW ORLEANS":  Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong star in this vintage musical set in New Orleans. Billie plays a maid who is in love with her “Satchmo” and meets up with him and other musicians of the era to Jam!. New Orleans is Republic Pictures' spin on such "musical origin" films as Birth of the Blues and Dixie. Covering nearly four decades, the story is a fanciful recreation of the "birth" of American jazz music. Arturo de Cordova plays Nick Duquesne, owner of a posh gambling house in turn-of-the-century New Orleans. When the "good" people of the town forced Duquesne to pack up and leave, he relocates in Chicago, where he discovers that his customers are turned on by hot jazz. Hiring bandleader Louis Armstrong to entertain his patrons, Duquesne no longer has to rely on gambling to make a living. Romance enters the picture in the form of Miralee Smith (Dorothy Patrick), a straight-laced student of classical music who learns to kick up her heels and shed her inhibitions at the sound of jazz. New Orleans is the only mainstream Hollywood feature good enough to cast Billie Holliday in a major role: true, she's playing a maid, but a maid with the most exquisite singing voice this side of Heaven. The film's highlight is the Holliday/Armstrong duet "Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans", surely one of the great moments of movie-musical history. BW/1947/ 90mins      $15.00

DID YOU KNOW:  While Billie Holiday appeared in several "Short Subject Films",  New Orleans is her only feature film appearance.
    Billie in a Duke Ellington short.
  "NOTORIOUS ELINOR LEE"   - Written, directed and produced by Oscar Micheaux. The story concerns a great Negro boxing champion [Robert Earle Jones] who is in the hands of crooks who want him to lose his most important fight so that they can settle some big bets. The champ is put in the toils of a clever woman who has been told to make him like her; to soften him up so that when the "time came" he could be "persuaded." What happens provides tense and thrilling screen entertainment.  The picture is very clear.  However, there is NO SOUND FOR 2/3 OF THE PICTURE].  1940/BW/60min        $19.95        [NOTE: This is a special order title from my collector contact, allow additional time for delivery]
Did You Know:  Robert Earle Jones, is the father of James Earle Jones. 
 
 "ONE MILE FROM HEAVEN": A rare find! Starring Fredi Washington -  A newspaper woman believes she has a scoop when she finds a Black woman who is the mother of a white child.   Within the framework of a conventional newspaper yarn, One Mile From Heaven raises several controversial issues. Scoop-happy reporter Lucy "Tex" Warren (Claire Trevor) senses a big story in the plight of Flora Jackson (Fredi Washington), a young Black woman who claims to be the mother of a white baby. In the course of her investigation, Luch discovers that the child actually belongs to Barbara Harrison (Sally Blane), now remarried to a wealthy young man and anxious to bury her past. A gang of extortionists pounce upon this information to victimize Barbara and Flora, but Lucy uses her newspaper connections to help both women. In the end, it is decided that the public's "right to know" can best be ignored in this case. Within the framework of a conventional newspaper yarn,          1937/BW/60mins.         $25.00   $19.95      

 
"ORIGINS OF AFRICAN AMERICANS ON FILM" This collection contains some of the oldest footage of African Americans and Africans on film.  Included is:
 
o    Edison Company films    1896-06
o    Fights of Nations [1907]
o    Uncle Tom's Cabin  [1903]
o    Uncle Tom's Cabin  [1914  features Sam Lucas, an African American as Tom. Other roles were played by African Americans rather than whites in Black-face which was the     custom of the era]
 
"Spying The Spy" an All-Black Cast silent film circa 1916 by the Ebony Film Company.             $15.00   $10.00
 

 
Portrait micheaux.jpg (19025 bytes)"OSCAR MICHEAUX: FILM PIONEER":  Danny Glover stars as Oscar Micheaux in this re-enactment of Micheaux's film career.  Lorenzo Tucker and Bee Freeman who appeared in Micheaux's films provide historical antidotes on the man and his role in making race films.        $15.00      [NOTE: This is a special order title from my collector contact, allow additional time for delivery]

"PARADISE IN HARLEM / BURLESQUE":  Paradise in Harlem: Black comic Lem Anderson is weary of doing his minstrel comedy on the vaudeville circuit. He dreams of becoming a serious stage actor and playing the lead in Shakespeare's Othello. As distant as this dream seems, it recedes even further when Lem witnesses a mob hit outside the theater. Forced to leave town or face death, Lem heads down south to find work, but his personal demons and a drinking habit bring this new life to ruin as well. Just as all seems lost, his impossible dream comes true when he is called back to New York to star in Othello. When the mobsters learn that he has returned to town, they resolve to silence him for good. 1939/BW/60min  Burlesque in Harlem: A provocative peek at a typical Harlem burlesque show, complete with racy slapstick comedy, bawdy blues singers, slick tap dancers, and voluptuous exotic showgirls in minimal attire. Legendary black comic, Pigmeat Markham, makes an appearance in a clever, fast-talking sketch about a sex clinic. Though tame by contemporary standards, these acts were definitely considered to be "adult entertainment" at the time. Burlesque in Harlem is a fascinating look at how society's mores have changed in the last half century.1949                $10.00 

 

 

  "PAUL ROBESON: Portrait Of The Artist":  This newly released 4-DVD set explores the film life of this great and under appreciated man of the world.  This DVD set includes a wonderful booklet with thoughts of the likes of Charles Burnett, Ian Christie, Hilton Als and others, on the man and his films.  It also includes some wonderful movie stills of Robeson, the actor.
       
DISC ONE - ICON:  "The EMPEROR JONES" / Paul Robeson- TRIBUTE TO AN ARTIST:  "The Emperor Jones"  Of all Paul Robeson's eleven starring film performances, by far his most iconic was his breakthrough in the big-screen adaptation of Eugene O'Neill's The Emperor Jones (1933). He was already a legend for his stage incarnation of Brutus Jones, a Pullman porter who powers his way to rule of a Caribbean island, but with this, his first sound-era film role, his regal image was married to his booming voice for eternity. With The Emperor Jones, Robeson became the first African-American leading man in mainstream movies and, he said, gained a deeper understanding of cinema's potential to change racial misconceptions. Previously censored because his co-star Fredi Washington was so fair-skin it was thought she may appeared "white" to some viewers.  To overcome this dilemma the studio put dark makeup on Miss Washington which resulted in her appearing pasty and rather odd looking.  
 
It should be noted the African American actors who stared in this film with Robeson:  Fredi Washington ["Imitation of Life"], Harold Nicholas ["Nicholas Brothers"], Jackie Mabley ["moms Mabley"], Rex Ingram ["The Green Pastures"] and a cast of others...Dudley Digges, Frank Wilson, Ruby Elzy, George Stamper, Blueboy O'Connor.  1933/BW/76mins    Paul Robeson- TRIBUTE TO AN ARTIST:  Is the Also Academy Award-winning documentary 1979 short  by Saul J. Turell, narrated by Sidney Poitier.  This short traces Robeson's career through his activism and his socially charged performances of his signature song, "Ol' Man River. 1979/BW/COLOR/29mins.
 
DISC ONE BONUS FEATURES: 
  •  
    -  Audio commentary for The Emperor Jones by historian Jeffrey C. Stewart
             -  "Our Paul: Remembering Paul Robeson",   a new video program including interviews with filmmaker William Greaves and actors Ruby Dee and James Earl Jones
    "Robeson on Robeson", a new interview with Paul Robeson Jr. about his father's career and art.
     
     
  • DISC TWO - OUTSIDER:  "BODY AND SOUL" / "BORDERLINE":  "Body and Soul"  Written and directed by the legendary African-American filmmaker Oscar Micheaux, is a direct critique of the power of the cloth, casting Robeson in dual roles as a jackleg preacher and a well-meaning inventor.
                                            -  Additional Release Material:
                                            -  Audio Commentary - Oscar Micheaux; Pearl Bowser
    DISC THREE - PIONEER: "SANDERS OF THE RIVER" (1935 ) /"JERICHO" (1938):
                            -
    Additional Release Material:
                            - Featurettes - "True Pioneer: The British Films of Paul Robeson" - Interviews with Paul Robeson, Jr., Stephen Bourne, and Ian Christie & Film Clips from SONG OF   FREEDOM (1936), KING SOLOMON'S MINES (1937), and BIG FELLA (1938).


    DISC FOUR: - CITIZEN of The WORLD    "THE PROUD VALLEY" (1940)/ "NATIVE LAND" (1942):

    Additional Release Material:
                            - Featurettes - "The Story of NATIVE LAND" - Interview with Tom Hurwitz
                            - Interviews - Paul Robeson - 1958, Pacifica Radio
    Product Description:
    This excellent Criterion Collection DVD set provides a definitive portrait of the trailblazing African-American figure Paul Robeson. As a singer, scholar, athlete, actor, and social activist, Robeson was not only a renaissance man, he transcended the endless social and racial barriers of the time. This in-depth documentary gives a full picture of the man, and includes audio commentary, interviews, and clips from Robeson's films.   DVD Set        $98.95

    "PINKY": Groundbreaking look at race relations from director Elia Kazan focuses on a light-skinned Black woman (Jeanne Crain) who, after studying nursing in New England, returns to her Southern hometown to help her grandmother (Ethel Waters) care for a wealthy woman (Ethel Barrymore). When the woman dies, the nurse's stake in her will is contested because of her race. 101 min. Category: Drama Director: Elia Kazan Cast: Ethel Barrymore, Jeanne Crain, Raymond Greenleaf, Arthur Hunnicutt, William Lundigan, Nina Mae McKinney, Juanita Moore, Harry Tenbrook, Kenny Washington, Ethel Waters          B&W/1949/101mins  $19.95 
     
    Porgy n bess.bmp (1552134 bytes) "PORGY & BESS": This legendary Gershwin opera is set among the Black residents of a fishing village in 1912 South Carolina, Bess [Dorothy Dandridge] - a woman with a disreputable history - tries to break free from her brutish lover Crown Brock Peters ] after he becomes wanted for murder. The only person willing to overlook her past and offer her shelter is the crippled Porgy [Sidney Poitier]. Their relationship is threatened by the disapproval of the townspeople, the presence of her old drug supplier Sportin' Life [Sammy Davis Jr.] - and the threatened return of Crown. Also stars, Pearl Bailey, Diahann Carroll, Clarence Muse, Ivan Dixon, and many others.  1959/Color/ 2hrs.    DVD  $45.00 
    A stellar line-up of African-American actors and musical stars helped to bring DuBose Heyward and Ira Gershwin's classic operetta to this screen in this lavishly-produced adaptation. Porgy (Sidney Poitier) is a crippled man living in the shantytown of Catfish Row who has fallen in love with Bess (Dorothy Dandridge), a beautiful but troubled woman addicted to drugs. Bess is already being courted by several men, including Crown (Brock Peters), a muscular laborer, and Sportin' Life (Sammy Davis, Jr.), a sharp-suited hipster who deals narcotics. Crown gets in a fist fight with Robbins (Joel Fluellen) and ends up killing him; Crown goes on the lam, and Bess, needing companionship, takes up with Porgy. However, Crown soon returns, and Porgy kills him in a subsequent altercation, forcing him to hide from the police. Meanwhile, the fickle Bess follows Sportin' Life in search of the bright lights of New York City. Pearl Bailey, Diahann Carroll, Ivan Dixon, and Clarence Muse also highlight the cast; Robert McFerrin provided the singing voice of Porgy, and Adele Addison dubbed in Bess' musical numbers.   NOTE: This is a special order title from my collector contact, allow additional time for delivery]
    FULL SCREEN      $25.00   $19.95

     
     
    "PRISON TRAIN"A ruthless bootlegger is sentenced to 90 years in Alcatraz and is hustled onto the titular transcontinental. A rival with vengeance on his mind is out to make sure that it's his last ride anywhere...and the word is passed to the other cons on the train! Superlative suspense with Fred Keating, Linda Winters. 65 min. Standard; Soundtrack: English. Plays All Regions.  Cast: Harry Anderson, Dorothy Comingore, Franklyn Farnum, Kit Guard, Fred Keating, Clarence Muse,. BW/1938/     $10.00 
     
    "PURLIE VICTORIOUS" Based on the popular Broadway play, Purlie Victorious is the story of a Black preacher (award-winning stage and screen actor, Ossie Davis), who returns home to rural Georgia to claim an inheritance and bring down Ol' Cap'n' Stonewall Jackson Cotchipee (Sorrell Booke, The Dukes of Hazzard), the ruthless plantation owner that he once served.  Accompanying Purlie is Miss Lutiebelle Jenkins (Ruby Dee), a pretty young girl who has captured his heart. Purlie persuades her to convince Cotchipee that she is the long-lost relative entitled to the family inheritance. But, the plot goes awry and Purlie must hide to escape the old man's wrath.
    He finds a surprise ally in Cotchipee's son, Charlie (award-winning actor, Alan Alda, in his first film role), a progressive Southern gentleman who takes matters into his own hands, eventually helping Purlie emerge victorious.   $15.00

     
    "THE QUITE ONE":  A documentary-styled look at delinquency focusing on a quiet Harlem youth who drifts into a world of crime before he is rehabilitated by the Wiltwyck School for Boys. Written by James Agee ("The African Queen") and shot in 16mm. With Donald Thompson, Sadie Stockton, Clarence Cooper. 65 min. Standard; Soundtrack: English. Plays All Regions  .BW/1948/64 Minutes  $10.00
               
        "RISING FROM THE RAILS: THE STORY OF THE PULLMAN PORTER", A documentary based on the best-selling book by Larry Tye, chronicles the relatively unheralded Pullman Porters, generations of African American men who served as caretakers to wealthy white passengers on luxury trains that traversed the nation during the golden age of rail. Unbeknownst to most of their white passengers, porters played critical political and cultural roles, becoming trailblazers in the struggle for African American dignity and self-sufficiency, patriarchs of black labor unions, and helping give birth to the Civil Rights Movement. Ultimately, however, their greatest legacy is that which they left to future generations. RISING FROM THE RAILS is an engaging and moving tribute to these men who rose, with dignity, from the rails.  2007/BW/Color    $19.95

    Harlem Double Feature: Dirty Gertie From Harlem U.S.A. (1946) / Sepia Cinderella (1947) Boxart "SEPIA CINDERELLA / DIRTY GERTIE FROM HARLEM USA"  Sepia Cinderella (1947, B&W): Bob Jordan is an aspiring songwriter with a melody stuck in his head. Naive in the ways of love, he's having some trouble writing the lyrics for his would-be hit. Barbara, a fellow musician and secret admirer, helps him finish the romantic ballad. "Cinderella" becomes an instant smash, and as Jordan's career takes off, lovelorn Barbara can only watch as her man slips away. Fame is a fickle thing, though, and Bob's flirtation with the fast life is short. Loveless and jobless, his agent has a brilliant idea to get his career back on track - a Cinderella contest. The gimmick is simple; at Jordan's next show, every available woman in the audience will bring a single slipper. The owner of the slipper that Bob selects will be invited upstage to join him in performing a duet of his signature song. The big night arrives, and Barbara happens to be in the audience. Will he finally make the right choice?  Dirty Gertie From Harlem U.S.A. (1946, B&W): Dancer Gertie La Rue is the toast of Harlem, but she's been two- timing her beau, Al, the man who put her in the spotlight. Fearing Al's retribution, Gertie drags her entire show troupe out to the remote island of Trinidad, where she hopes to lay low for a while. She's also managed to make her self imposed exile a lucrative one, setting up a residency at Diamond Joe's nightclub. While Gertie drinks, cusses, and flirts her way across Trinidad, dark clouds are gathering overhead; local revivalist Jonathan Christian is on a moral crusade to have her deported.  $10.00
     
    "SPIRIT OF YOUTH / LUCKY GHOST :  $10.00         Spirit of Youth: The theme of the picture is that a prize fighter who forfeits his training for fun and frivolity discovers that he has made a big mistake. Joe (Joe Louis) leaves his home to find a better job to support his crippled father, and eventually finds himself in the sport of boxing. After success in the Golden Gloves, he headed for the top when trouble in the form of a cabaret singer sidetracks him from his goal. After neglecting his training, the young boxer loses a match and his true love at the same time. But, for unexpected reasons, Joe's silent and suffering girlfriend makes a last-minute appearance at the ring where Joe is losing a match. Inspired by her appearance, the opponent is soon knocked out, Joe wins the world champion –ship as well as the girl. Lucky Ghost: Mantan Moreland and Flournoy E. Miller do a bug-eyed bit in this fun-filled supernatural comedy filled with pratfalls and wacky situations. The two having been sent to another state by a judge, have a supernatural run of luck. Mantan's luck at dice wins them clothes, a car, his life, a club and money.  DVD    $10.00 
     
     "STORMY WEATHER:  Built around the premise of a Big Stage Show, Stormy Weather affords rare "mainstream" leading roles to some of the era's greatest African-American entertainers Lena Horne, Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, Dooley Wilson, Cab Calloway, Katherine Dunham, Fats Waller, and the Nicholas Brothers. The thinnest plotline — dancer Robinson has an on-again-off-again romance with Horne — is simply an excuse for lively, well-staged performances. Of the fourteen musical numbers, the most memorable is Lena Horne's rendition of the title song, artfully staged by director Andrew L. Stone. Keep an eye out for uncredited contributions by jazz greats Zutty Hamilton, Coleman Hawkins and Taps Miller.    DVD        $19.95  $15.00

     
    "SWING / MOON OVER HARLEM":  $10.00  Swing: An Oscar Micheaux directed film. Starring Cora Green, Hazel Diaz, Carman Newsome, Dorothy Van Engle; about a cheating husband. The wife moves to New York City becoming a wardrobe girl for a all-Back Broadway musical.1938/BW/60min   Moon Over Harlem: Kind-hearted widow Minnie is marrying a womanizing racketeer known as Dollar Bill, and her beautiful daughter Sue is heart-broken. When Bill tries to seduce the young girl right under Minnie's nose, the love-struck mother wrongly blames her daughter. Feeling betrayed and abandoned, Sue runs into the arms of her boyfriend, Bob, who happens to be organizing the Harlem neighborhood to fight Dollar Bill's extortionist gang. Minnie's naive belief in her new husband's basic goodness leads to tragedy when she rushes.   
     
    "SCAR OF SHAME":  Plot Synopsis This drama follows the painful marriage between a brilliant African-American concert pianist who marries a woman from a lower social caste and then hides his marriage from his socially conscious upper-middle class mother.  Perhaps the most important accomplishment of the Black-Cast Films of the 1920s-40s is the window they offer contemporary viewers into the mores and lifestyles of middle-class African-American life. In spite of the often crude cinematic techniques -- essentially due to the limited funds and facilities that were available to filmmakers in this market -- these films remain undeniably fascinating. The Scar of Shame (1927) is particularly intriguing among black-cast films because of its obvious ambition. Not satisfied to be merely a Hollywood-derivative drama with black actors, it endeavors to explore the delicate and often painful divisions that existed within African-American society of the day (a rift that was termed the "twoness" of black culture by educator and activist W.E.B. DuBois).

    Lucia Lynn Moses stars as Louise, a young woman who is protected from an abusive stepfather (Norman Johnstone) by Alvin, an ambitious young composer (Harry Henderson). Although Louise is obviously beneath his social station, Alvin secretly marries her. With the help of a street hoodlum named Spike (William E. Pettus), the stepfather hatches a plan to regain control of his daughter. Louise comes to believe Alvin is ashamed of her, so she welcomes the life of vice, wealth and disgrace they propose. Alvin confronts them, shots are fired, and Louise receives a wound in her neck, a powerful symbol of her moral corruption.

    The essential crisis of The Scar of Shame is the struggle to rise above the downward pull of the "street," and this conflict is represented quite effectively in the film's well-orchestrated (at times overwrought) dramatics. Just as Louise was unable to escape the influence of her stepfather, Alvin finds his promising future endangered by the secret romance of his past, suggesting that every level of black society faces obstacles beyond the obvious black/white struggle. The Scar of Shame was a product of the Colored Players Company, an enterprise founded by David Starkman, who also served as the film's screenwriter. The director, Frank Peregini, and cinematographer, Al Ligouri, were also white.

    Established in Philadelphia in 1926 with a $100,000 investment, the CPC produced only three films before it was absorbed by another company. Tragically, neither of the other two films, A Prince of His Race (1926) and Ten Nights in a Bar Room (1921), survive today. In order to appear in the film, Moses, a dancer at Harlem's legendary Cotton Club, was required to commute (between performances) to the CHC studios in Philadelphia.

    As screenwriter, Starkman may have organized the narrative plot of the film -- which was a direct descendent of the exaggerated Victorian melodrama -- but the more subtle themes of class separation were no doubt developed in cooperation with his African-American collaborators more attuned to the issues of caste within black society.
    Director: Frank Peregini
    Producer: David Starkman
    Screenplay: David Starkman
    Cinematography: Al Liguori
    Principal Cast: Harry Henderson (Alvin Hillyard), Norman Johnstone (Eddie Blake), Ann Kennedy (Mrs. Lucretia Green), Lucia Lynn Moses (Louise Howard), William Pettus (Spike Howard), Lawrence Chenault (Ralph Hathaway), Pearl McCormack (Alice Hathaway) BW-76m.   $15.00 
    [NOTE: This is a special order title from my collector contact, allow additional time for delivery]
     
    "SO RED THE ROSE": So Red the Rose is a Civil War drama that plays like a warm-up for Gone With the Wind—and, unlike Wind, has two genuine Southerners in the leading roles. Margaret Sullavan is the aristocratic mistress of a sprawling Southern plantation, whose sheltered lifestyle is rent asunder by the War. All that sustains her during the conflict's darkest days is her love for her distant cousin, a Confederate officer played by Randolph Scott. Despite the incursions of Yankee troops (most of whom are portrayed as one step above gorillas), Sullavan holds her family together even after her mansion is burned to the ground. She even manages to talk her slaves out of rebelling, in a scene that must have caused embarrassment for everyone concerned in later years. The fact that So Red the Rose died at the box office (industries dubbed the picture "So Red the Ink") was the principal reason why so many producers turned down Gone with the Wind a few years later.    $19.95  $15.00   [NOTE: This is a special order title from my collector contact, allow additional time for delivery] 

     

    Harlem Double Feature: Go Down Death! (1944) / Sunday Sinners (1940) Boxart "SUNDAY SINNER / GO DOWN DEATH"  Sunday Sinners (B&W, 1940): Reverend Jesse Hampton has a bone to pick with the management of Club Harlem, a wildly popular nightspot where drinking and dancing are the rule. No old-fashioned prude, the Reverend tries to see the positive side of the juke joint activities, knowing that the jitterbuggers are basically decent kids who just need to blow off a little steam. But the preacher sees red when the club opens on the Sabbath, threatening to turn the good townsfolk into Sunday sinners. An upcoming dance contest seems destined to become a showdown between the powers of light and darkness. Packed with soulful singing, wild dancing and snappy comedy.   Go Down Death (B&W, 1944): Bar owner Big Jim Bottoms (Spencer Williams) has a running feud with a popular local preacher, whose sermons are rallying the townsfolk against him. With the help of three trampy bar-girls and a sneaky photographer, Big Jim comes into possession of some very compromising pictures of the young minister. His attempt to smear the man is thwarted when Jim's adoptive mother, a devout churchgoer, demands that he give the offensive snapshots to her. When the two struggle over them, Jim accidentally kills the woman who raised him. At the funeral, Jim's conscience fills his skull with screaming condemnation, driving him to delirium.    DVD    $10.00

    DID YOU KNOW:  Go Down Death is one of several spiritual testaments from Spencer Williams, best known for his comedies and Juke Joint musicals. In his dual role as director and lead actor, Williams does a rare turn as a heavy in this highly moralistic and stylized work based on a poem by renowned black writer, James Weldon Johnson.   

     

    "SOULS OF SIN / MURDER ON LENOX AVENUE.": . Souls of Sin This All-Black Cast drama is a wonderful slice of Harlem, the story takes place in a boarding house full of aspiring, but poor artist. The calm is disrupted when Dollar Bill, a cheap hoodlum moves in. His aspirations to be a big time hood, his relationship with life and the boarding house tenants is at the least tumultuous. The tenants try in vain to guide him to the straight and narrow, but eventually he dies in a mob shoot out. -William Greaves, Harris & Scott, Savannah Churchill.   Synopsis: "Dollar Bill" Burton, a gambler, lives in a Harlem basement apartment with Roberts, a hard-luck writer, and Alabama, a talented guitarist- singer. At a local bar, Bill is hired by Bad Boy George to sell stolen jewelry and takes an interest in Regina, George's girlfriend who helps Alabama get a break in television. Bill dies of gunshot wounds, but the other characters realize personal success.  This film was William Alexander's last feature.1949/BW/60 min.   Murder on Lenox  Avenue Murder on Lenox Avenue:  A promoter in Harlem forms a Better Business League, but is kicked out after being accused of mismanagement. They replace him with Pa, a respected man in the community. Ola, Pa's daughter, is in love with a teacher, but Pa wants her to marry Jim (Ernie Ransom) who is loved by Mercedes. Ola marries the teacher and moves down south. Meanwhile, the former League president plots to get even with Pa. He gets Jim to plant a bomb in the hall where Pa will be speaking. The bomb is discovered and removed, but Ola reads of the threat and returns from the south. Ola arrives at the hall while her father is giving a speech denouncing the attempt on his life. As a last desperate attempt to regain power, one of the conspirators tries to shoot Pa, but co-conspirator Jim steps in the way of the bullet and is killed.  1941/BW/60mins.   DVD $10.00

     

    "STRAIGHT TO HEAVEN",  This film stars Lorenzo Tucker, Nina Mae McKinney, Jack Carter, Bernice Vincent, Thomas Mosely, Pearl Bains, George Williams, James Fuller, Jimmie Baskett, Emmory Evans, Teddy Hale, Jackie Ward, Lionel Monogas, Percy Verwayen, The Three Peppers, Millie and Bubbles, Sherman Dirkson, Jules Smith, Martin and Williams, Tuffy Hawkins, Mae Francis, Edna Slatten, Lenore White, Marion Galloway, Marcelle Wescott. -- Lucky John is head of a syndicate which is distributing rotten canned food and hair care products to unsuspecting Negroes in Harlem. Joe Williams is sent to jail for murder and placed on trial for his life. William's wife plays a big part in clearing her husband of murder charges engineered by Lucky John. 1939/BW/60mins  $25.00  $19.95     [NOTE: This is a special order title from my collector contact, allow additional time for delivery]

    "ST. LOUIS BLUES":  The life of legendary bluesman W.C. Handy is highly dramatized in this tuneful biopic. The story opens as his father, a minister chastises his son for playing "the devil's music." Despite his father's admonitions, Handy is drawn to the blues. He is encouraged by two disparate women, one an earthy singer from New Orleans and the other a good-hearted girl from his hometown whose main concern is Handy's happiness. Stress causes Handy to go blind for a while, but eventually he regains his sight, becomes famous for his music, and wins the respect of his father. The highlight of the film involves the performance of Handy's music by some of the great blues and jazz singers of the 1950s including Cole, Calloway, Jackson, and Fitzgerald. Songs include "Hesitating Blues," "Chantez Les Bas," "Beale Street Blues," (W.C. Handy), "Careless Love" (based on folk music by Handy; lyrics by Spencer Williams, Martha Koenig), "Morning Star," "Way Down South Where the Blues Began," "Mr. Bayle," "Aunt Hagar's Blues" (Handy; lyrics by Tim Brymn), "They that Sow" (hymn), and "Going to See My Sarah" (spiritual) Starring, Nat "King" Cole, Ertha Kitt, Pearl Bailey, Cab Calloway, Ella Fitzgerald, Mahalia Jackson, Ruby Dee, Juan Hernandez, Billy Preston, Teddy Buckner, Barney Bigard, George 'Red' Callender, Lee Young, George Washington. Based on the life and music of W.C. Handy, (the "father of the Blues"). The story tells of Handy's struggle to write and play music. His father, a minister is against the "devil's" music, therefore, against his son. He becomes temporarily blind, and of course there's the standby problem, romance. 1958  $25.00  $19.95       [NOTE: This is a special order title from my collector contact, allow additional time for delivery]
          

    Did You Know?  The late singer/songwriter Billy Preston stared as the young W.C. Handy in this film.  He is shown here with Nat King Cole.
     
    . "SYMBOL OF THE UNCONQUERED":    This early-Black cinema silent was produced and directed by the era's most prolific African-American filmmaker Oscar Micheaux. Iris Hall played Evon Mason, "a beautiful Negress" traveling West to inspect her inheritance, a gold mine. She is thrown out of the area's only hotel but is cared for by a Black prospector (Lawrence Chenault), whose life she later saves. Racism rarely reared its ugly head in Micheaux's films, at least not directly. It is therefore noteworthy that Symbol of the Unconquered contains a scene wherein the protagonist is barred from an all-white hotel, a situation all too familiar to the film's African-American target audience.  Eva Mason, beautiful quadroon, has inherited property from her father, and while looking it over becomes lost. She is found by Hugh von Allen who mistakes her for white. They later fall in love. Later, Drescola, villainous scoundrel, learns that Eva's property has valuable oil on it and, unable to buy the property from her, he uses his influence with a Negro-hating squaw man and a band of "white riders" to run Eva off the property. Whether he succeeds or not is the climax of the picture.  1920/BW/Silent/   $15.00  $10.00    [NOTE: This is a special order title from my collector contact, allow additional time for delivery] 

    "TALLEST TREE IN THE FOREST / LAST DAYS OF MALCOLM X": A searching documentary of a man who lived his life full of passion and conviction. His life spanned from 1898 to 1976. It ended in sadness and loneliness partly due to his support for communism and Stalin. Paul Robeson was a well known and widely respected Black American of the 1930s and 1940s. He was a singer, actor, civil rights activist, law school graduate, athlete, scholar and author. He learned to speak more than 20 languages in order to voice his public opinion and unyielding views on issues of race and ignorance throughout the world. 86 minutes.  A must see video that documents the life of Paul Robeson's controversial career. It contains comments by Robeson's son and has interviews with Robeson, Sr.    1977/Color and BW/60mins   DVD        $7.00
     
    "TAMANGO"    A story of a revolt on a slave ship was actually around prior to the more recent Amistad but unfortunately, few seemed to have much interest in it judging from the limited distribution of this film when it first appeared in the conservative atmosphere of the 50's. It was actually banned in France. The objection of course, was the interracial relationship between slave ship captain Curt Jurgens and his slave mistress Aiche (Dorothy Dandridge). When a revolt occurs, Dandridge as a marginalized person tries to stay uninvolved, even though she has some attraction to the revolt leader Tamango. She is not really liked by the African captives as she has "given" herself to the white captain is obviously not the nicest person in the world but seems to have some genuine affection for Aiche and treats her comparatively well. Aiche has suppressed bitter resentment about her slave origins and treatment by former masters and still has hopes for a possible future better life with Jurgens, even after she finds out he has plans to wed a white woman and live in Holland. However, when confronted he claims he will stay with Aiche and even make her a free woman. When the revolt begins she is forced to make a decision where her loyalties lie and tragedy occurs.  DVD    $10.00 
     
    "TARZAN'S PERILS (AKA: "Tarzan and the Jungle Goddess")  A Dorothy Dandridge jungle film.
    DVD/                $19.95
             [NOTE: This is a special order title from my collector contact, allow additional time for delivery]

    "TEN MINUTES TO LIVE"   A Oscar Micheaux films. A mixed pair of early suspense stories set in the twilight world of Harlem after dark. "The Faker" and "The Killer." Stars Laurence Chesnault and A.B. Comathiere. Low-budget auteur Oscar Micheaux directs this early crime drama concerning a Harlem nightclub dancer and presumed gangster's moll who receives a most unsettling note. Informed that in ten minutes she will be escorted into the back alley and unceremoniously pumped full of lead, the young dancer quickly begins to ponder the sad prospect of her all-too-brief future  1932/BW/63mins.  $15.00   $10.00   [NOTE: This is a special order title from my collector contact, allow additional time for delivery]

       "UNDERWORLD / DARK MANHATTAN"   Underworld: Directed by Oscar Micheaux   Paul Bronson lusts after the decadent world of nightclubs and casinos. His strongest desires are reserved for the dangerously voluptuous Dinah Jackson, but this beautiful temptress is really the "property" of mob boss LeRoy Giles. When jealous LeRoy gets wind of Dinah's cheating, he cuts off her money and kicks her out. An angry Dinah has LeRoy shot, and suspicion falls on Paul. Dinah is Paul's only alibi - and his only hope of avoiding a long walk down death row.  Starring Sol Johnson, Bee Freeman, "Slick" Chester, Ethel Moses, Oscar Polk; .  1937/BW/63mins.   Dark Manhattan  On the tough back streets of Harlem, thugs and crooks fight for control of the numbers racket. One small time hood, "Curly" Thorpe, is enlisted by the biggest mob boss in town, Larry B. Lee, to be his protégé. Curly takes over the operation, bringing a new level of brutality and greed to Lennox Avenue. Beautiful women, fast cars and hard cash are all that Curly cares about, but he steps on the wrong toes to get them. Tougher men than Curly now want him dead.  Starring Ralph Cooper, Cleo Herndon, Clarence Brooks, Jess Lee Brooks; Directed by Harry L. Fraser.  1937/BW/60mins.        $10.00

    "VEILED ARISTOCRAT" Plus Bonus Short: "Mr. Adam's Bomb" :   . Lorenzo Tucker dubbed the "Black Valentino" by Micheaux stars in this film as a lawyer who returns   home to find his sister about to marry a dark-skinned man.  Directed by Oscar Micheaux, Cast: Laura Bowman, Lawrence Chenault Walter Fleming, Barrington Guy , Lucille Lewis, Carl Mahon , Lorenzo Tucker. Based on the Oscar Micheaux novel "The House Behind The Cedars". The romantic lead, Lorenzo Tucker, was billed as "the Black Valentino." Tucker got his start in show business appearing with Bessie Smith on a number of cross-country tours. 1932/BW/44MINS        $15.00
     
            DID YOU KNOW... Lorenzo Tucker (June 27, 1907 – August 19, 1986), dubbed the "Black Valentino" by Oscar Micheaux, was an African-American stage and screen actor who played the romantic lead in the early Black films of Oscar Micheaux.  He also made an uncredited cameo appearance with Paul Robeson in 1933's The Emperor Jones. He got his start on-stage appearing with Bessie Smith on a number of cross-country tours.
    Additional Extra:  "Mr. Adam's Bomb" 1949/BW/21mins. Rare Short  This  is an odd little film as it starts out hinting that it intends to be a jazz soundie, but it's main intent is to portray a Black family gathering & party completely devoid of jive.  .The plot of this short film is that the upstairs border, Adam Jones, has been seen sneaking in the house late at night with round packages, which starts the rumor that he's building an atom bomb in his room. There's going to be a party at the house that night & Johnson makes sure his police detective friend is invited, so he can have a chance to investigate the possibility of there being a bomb in the house.
    The heart of the film is Adam Jones doing a magic act for comedy effect, getting the "cowardly" cop's sidekick character from the audience for the amazing trick of ramming a butcher knife into the top of his skull. Our "coward" does muster the bravery to go through with the trick, & it's an amusing long bit.  Adam is played by Eddie Green, a monologist, radio star, & Vaudevillian, who died relatively young the following year, so this was to be his last film appearance.       
     
    Way Down South "WAY DOWN SOUTH" Way Down South ranks as among the better Bobby Breen musicals, if only because of its impressive production credits. The film is set in antebellum Louisiana, where young Tim Reid's (Breen) inheritance is highly coveted by crooked attorney Martin Dill (Edwin Maxwell). With the help of kindly Cajun innkeeper Jacques Bouton (Alan Mowbray), Tim is able to foil the villain, with time left over for a number of Southern-fried tunes. The film's attitudes towards slavery-to a man, the "darkies" are blissfully content with their lot in life-is astonishing, inasmuch as the film was co written by Clarence Muse (one of the more militant black performers in Hollywood) and African American poet Langston Hughes!  $10.00 
     
    "WITHIN OUR GATES":   Oscar Micheaux made this film as a response to his outrage at D.W. Griffin's "Birth of A Nation." The film is graphic and has scene of a hanging and attempted rape. This film is one of the earliest surviving examples of a film by an African American filmmaker. Sylvia Landry is engaged to a black soldier, but her rival Alma Pritchard arranges for him to catch Sylvia in an innocent but compromising situation. No longer engaged, she moves to the South to work as a teacher in an all-black school. When the school has financial problems, she returns to Boston to raise money for it. There, she is befriended by a white doctor, Dr. Vivian, who falls in love with her. In a flashback, her rival tells the doctor how Sylvia lost her family. Sylvia's father was unjustly accused of murder, and her parents were lynched. Micheaux was not a great artist, but his films are important because they dealt with issues that the mainstream "white" studios ignored. The only surviving print of Within Our Gates was found in an archive in Spain, and the titles had been rewritten in Spanish. When translated back to English, plot points may have been lost. On the other hand, the last third of the film is a haunting flashback to the death of Sylvia's parents. The scenes of the lynch-mob beating one man to death and hanging Mr. and Mrs. Landry are still powerful today, and the film is highly critical of blacks who betray their race to earn favor with the white dominant society. Cast: Evelyn Preer, Flo Clements, James D. Ruffin, Jack Chenault, Charles D. Lucas & others.1920/Silent/BW/60mins.    $15.00
           
    DID YOU KNOW:  Evelyn Preer's first film role was in Micheaux's 1919 debut effort The Homesteader. As his premier leading actress, Micheaux heavily promoted Preer with a steady tour of personal appearances and a publicity campaign. Many of Micheaux's subsequent films were vehicles designed to showcase Preer's extraordinary versatility.  Preer was lauded by both the Black and white press for her ability to continually succeed in ever more challenging roles and refusing to play roles that she believed demeaned African-Americans.
     
    In 1920, Evelyn Preer joined The Lafayette Players, a theatrical stock company founded in 1915 by another pioneering stage and film actress Anita Bush, who was known as “The Little Mother of Black Drama.” Bush and her acting troupe brought legitimate theatre to Black audiences throughout the U.S. While the troupe was based in Chicago, Preer met her future husband, fellow Lafayette Player Edward Thompson. They married in Nashville, Tennessee in 1924 while on a Southern tour.
                

     

    SHORTS AND SOUNDIES

    Black & Tan   

     

     

    BLACK AND TAN the early sound film Black & Tan (1929) was a first-rate way to show off sound film technology as being so consequential it could bring performances of just this magnitude to any theater.
    The orchestra performs with a dancer, Fredi Washington. She's playing Duke's wife, too, but in real life she would (in 1933) marry Duke's trombonist Lawrence Brown.

    The band's dancer has achieved a fame beyond that of the band. Without her star presence, the band might not get the pending contract which pretty much hinges on the club getting Fredi at the same time.  she has a heart condition & has been warned to give up her career. But Fredi can't let Duke down, & assuring Duke she's healthy enough to perform, she will literally dance herself to death.
    In the context of this short-subject tragedy, Duke Ellington & His Orchestra perform at least three original compositions.
    "The Duke Steps Out" is played as a dirge-march; "Black Beauty" is the number for Fredi's main dance; The film is framed front & back with "Black & Tan Fantasy."  The Hall Johnson Choir puts in a gospel moment at the end, for the sadness of Fredi's dying.

    Hall Johnson was vocal coach to such great singers as Marian Anderson & Harry Belafonte, & his choir can be seen or heard in such films as Green Pastures (1933), Cabin in the Sky (1943), Dumbo (1940), & in the "scarecrow" segment of the anthology film Tales of Manhattan (1942). DVD    $5.00
     

     

     

     

    "DARKTOWN REVIEW": A short variety film with musical sequences and comedy by Oscar Micheaux.  As in many early talkies, the camera-work is extremely static. The film included choral singing and several vaudeville acts, including a comedy duo routine about a haunted house. Stars Tim Moore [The Kingfish from "Amos ’n Andy"] Other cast: Celeste Cole, Amon Davis , Donald Heywood .... & the Donald Heywood Choir), Andrew Tribble 1933/BW/18min./    DVD     $7.50

     

       "BROKEN EARTH": Joshua a poor farmer with a dog and a son, works hard to care for his son. He visits his wife's grave and tells her that little Joshua, their son is going to get well. While out in the fields working, the dog comes to get him, because his son has taken a turn for the worse. While praying for his sons life, a strong ray of sunlight breaks through the clouds over their cabin and slowly, Little Joshua opens his eyes. Clarence Muse, Freida Shaw Choir. 1939/BW/20min     DVD    $7.50      

     

     WHO IS CLARENCE MUSE?  Muse, born in 1889, was a lawyer, writer, director, composer, and actor. He earned a degree in International Law from The Dickinson School of Law of Pennsylvania in 1911. Disgusted with the poor opportunities for Black lawyers, he selected a show business career. Muse appeared as an opera singer, minstrel show performer, vaudeville and Broadway actor; he also wrote songs, plays, and sketches. An active participant in the Black theater movement of the 1920s, Muse became a member of the progressive All-Black Lincoln Players.
    Though he was an outspoken advocate for better and more equitable treatment for Black performers, Muse was a staunch supporter of the controversial TV series Amos 'N' Andy. He pointed out that, despite the caricatured leading characters, the series allowed Black actors to play doctors, bankers, judges, professors, and other parts generally denied them in "white" shows. In 1955, Muse was a regular on the weekly TV version of Casablanca, playing Sam the pianist (a role he nearly got in the 1942 film version) and in 1959, he appeared in the film Porgy and Bess. Other film credits include Buck and the Preacher (1972) and Car Wash (1976) He's the shoe shine man in front of the car wash.

    "OPEN THE DOOR RICHARD" & "RICHARD'S ANSWER"  Dusty Fletcher is well known for his skit "Open The Door Richard" where he fights with a latter while at the same time calling for Richard, "The Boy I Room With".  Even today, this is a great comedic routine.  Dusty Fletcher stars in the short film Open the Door, Richard (1945), a comedy routine that started out on vaudeville's chitlin circuit & reached the Apollo Theater in 1935. It became one of the most famous comedy bits of its era, & was captured on film ten years later.
    RICHARD ANSWERS:  Stepin Fetchit's portrayal of Richard's stubbornness about not getting up to answer the door is not as complex a piece of comedy.  Sweet Mary tries to sweet-talk him into opening the door

     
     
                                   DID YOU KNOW....  the mother of the singing group Sister Sedge   Florez "Kathy" Sledge, played the role of Richard's wife in this short.  Referred to as Flores Marmon in this short .
      

     

    "RUFUS JONES FOR PRESIDENT": Rufus JonesA very stereotypical Hollywood musical short. This film starts with a seven year old Sammy Davis in the arms of Ethel Waters, being told that he could be president one day. He falls asleep and dreams of being President. Plenty of singing and dancing with lots of stereotypical dialect and scenes like, "Vote for Rufus Jones for President and gets two pork chops", or scenes of dice playing in congress or everyone walking around holding a pork chop. - Ethel Waters, Hamtree Harrington, Sammy Davis, Jr., Dusty Fletcher, Edgar Connor, The Will Vodery Girls, The Russell Wooding' Jubilee Singers. 1933/BW/ 15mins.     DVD $7.50 

     


     

     

    "Rhythm and Blues Revue [AKA Showtime at The Apollo]" (1955):  Directed by Joseph Kohn and Leonard Reed; Cast: Willie Bryant .... Freddie Robinson, Lionel Hampton .... Count Basie, Faye Adams .... Bill Bailey, Herb Jeffries .... Amos Milburn Sarah Vaughan .... Nipsey Russell, Big Joe Turner .... Martha Davis, Little Buck .... Nat 'King' Cole
    Mantan Moreland .... Cab Calloway, Ruth Brown
    This is a collection of exciting R&B performances from the mid 1950's, filmed at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem, New York City. Every performance is a gem. The genial host, Willie Bryant, keeps things moving and the lowbrow comedy from Nipsey Russell and Mantan Moreland helps create, a wonderful "revue" feel for the show. 71 Minutes. 

     

    "Basin Street Revue" (1956), Directed by Joseph Kohn and Leonard Reed More R&B performances from the mid 1950's, filmed at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem, New York City. 41 Minutes

    Extras:  Soundies
    Maurice Rocco, Bob Howard, Noble Sissle, Artie Young, Frances Grey,
    Doris Ake, Avanel and Mildred and Bow. 17 Minutes
                           $10.00

     


    "
    KING FOR A DAY [AKA, BLACK ORCHIDS]". Vitaphone musical short, King for a Day (1934), starring the legendary tap dancer Bill Robinson At a rehearsal for Brown's Black Orchids, we see many chorus dancers through a doorway practicing tap in two lines. Mr. Brown (Ernest Whitman) in a bowler hat tells his employees not to let dancer Bill Green (Bill Robinson) in the building, as Brown hasn't any time to audition for unneeded new dancers.

    Bill fast-talks his way into the building & demands an audition "your audience will be wild about." Brown insists he's invested too much in the upcoming show, & it's too late to take a chance on an amateur. Bill insists he's a pro, having had a lucrative gig dancing on street corners. Bill then meets with the costume & stage design guys, finding their work "copasetic," a word of slang Robinson personally popularized & possibly even coined. They need collectively to be paid $2,500 -- so once more, out come Bill Green's dice.  Bill couldn't stay a successful producer, being only a king for a day. So almost as soon as he's off the stage & again tossing dice, Mr. Brown wins back his show. Which is only fair.
     

    "VANITIES": This is another nightclub performance film, with young Charles Keith as M.C. Before he introduces the other acts, he confesses that he is an out - of - work actor whose idol is Bette Davis. He does a masterful impersonation of her role in "THE LETTER" in which he first sounds remarkably like the actress, then even begins to look like her. The next act is Joes Fred Portee, who sings. Then, Keith introduces "Little Audrey" Armstrong, who demonstrates her remarkable muscle control and persistence in a gyrating dance. For a finale, Ms. Portee comes back and sings.     1946/BW     $7.00 

     

       "NATURAL BORN GAMBLER": The plot of this comedy is trivial, dealing with a poker game which is raided by the local police. The participants, All-Black, are hauled to court but all are released with the exception of Williams. While in jail Williams does his famous routine of playing poker with himself.  1916/BW Silent/20min.    Our story centers upon the activities of a Negro fraternal organization, the Independent Order of Calcimine Artists of America. [Inside joke: "calcimine" is whitewash, and yet most of these black actors appear to have darkened their complexions with blackface makeup.] The group meets in the back of a saloon. Their leader, Brother Scott, is a lawyer who disapproves of gambling-- although, after breaking up a poker game, he doesn't object to appropriating others' winnings. Our protagonist is lodge member Bert Williams, described as a "walking delegate," who is clearly in arrears with both the saloon's barkeep, Hostetter Johnson, and with the lodge itself. Early on, he is compelled to remit the dues he owes (three dollars), which he does reluctantly. [Some prints of the film omit the next sequence: After leaving a meeting with his friend Limpy Jones, who is handicapped with gout and must ride on Bert's shoulders, Bert passes a graveyard where he overhears two chicken thieves splitting up their takings, saying "One for you, an' one for me." He and Limpy are convinced that they have overheard devils splitting up their souls, and flee in a panic; Bert actually pushing the crippled man over in his haste to run away. Limpy makes his way alone back to the saloon and tells the others about the frightening experience. Bert, meanwhile, encounters the thieves on the road and pieces together what really happened. He invites the thieves to accompany him back to the saloon, where Limpy is made to look foolish. Then Bert and Limpy appropriate the thieves' stolen chickens, and eject the men from their company.] Bert attempts to win back his recently-paid three dollars from the club's treasurer in a dice game, but Brother Scott interrupts and forces them to depart-- meanwhile pocketing the money they left behind. After Brother Scott exits, a sporty young man, Cicero Sampson, flashes a wad of bills he apparently won gambling, up north. Bert, impressed, challenges Sampson to a game of poker. A lookout is posted in front of the saloon. Bert wins Sampson's bank roll and his pocket watch-- by cheating, with Limpy's assistance unfortunately, just at his moment of triumph, cops bust the place and arrest all the players. Brother Scott represents the group in court, and seems to have a very friendly relationship with the judge. The judge orders that the spoils of the game go to Brother Scott, as his fee. He orders Cicero Sampson to leave town within three days, and sentences Bert to ten days in jail. In jail, Bert dreams of a poker game he plays by himself, with phantom opponents. He cuts the invisible deck and deals         $10.00  Bert Williams (1874-1922) was the most popular black comedian of the ragtime era. In 1915 when Biograph signed him up, he was given complete control over two film projects, serving as his own writer, producer & director.
    He was a great comic, whom W. C. Fields famously called, "The funniest man I ever saw, & the saddest."

    Ol' Man Cotton

     

     

     

     

     

    OL MAN COTTON Operatic folk-blues is the best description of the powerful voice of George Dewey Washington, who sings two songs in the one-reel soundie Ol' King Cotton (1930).  He was a singer, actor & comedian of the Harlem Renaissance. He toured America from one coast to the other in Roaring Twenties as one of the giants, first on the "chitlin circuit" but soon doing white vaudeville, widely embraced by white audiences from Boston to Seattle. He became a star on Broadway in the 1930s

     

     

    SYMPHONY IN BLACK: A RHAPSODY OF NEGRO LIFE. 1935 Director: Fred Waller   Symphony in Black: A Rhapsody of Negro Life (1935) begins with the premise that Duke Ellington has two weeks to complete his "Negro Moods" which are slated to debut at the end of that time.

    We see him in his small private studio hard at work at his piano, struggling with the final touches for the titular symphony in four main parts.  The second movement's overall title is "A Triangle" in three sections, "Dance," "Jealousy," & "Blues," with featured solos from Barney Bigard on clarinet for "Blues," & from trombonist Joe Nanton for both "Dance" & "Blues."  The last third of the second Symphony in Blackpart, "Blues," lingers on that jealous woman cast to the ground, who is none other than Billie Holiday, who begins singing, "When My Man Walked Out on Me." 
     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

                        If you're looking for a titles not listed on my website, please email your request to:  mailto:info@midnightramble.com

     

    Phyllis C. Benton, MSW

    PO Box 11522

    Portland, OR  97211-0522

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