Product DetailsBody and Soul (1925):
Written and directed by independent auteur Oscar Micheaux, the low-budget silent film Body and Soul is significant as the film debut of actor Paul Robeson. He leads the largely African-American cast as the Reverend Isaiah T. Jenkins, a minister who lies, cheats, and steals. He's really an escaped convict and con artist posing as a Reverend. Even though he takes his flask with him to church, his followers believe in him. An upstanding member of the congregation, Martha Jane (Julia Theresa Russell), encourages her daughter, Isabelle (Mercedes Gilbert), to accept him as a suitor. Meanwhile, Jenkins' poor but honest twin brother Sylvester (also Robeson) also courts Isabelle as well.
This experimental drama was thought lost until the 1990s when it was rediscovered by the British Film Institute. The Switzerland-set melodrama takes place in a resort and chronicles the reaction of patrons when an interracial couple shows up for a stay.
The Emperor Jones (1933):
Railroad porter Brutus Jones (Robeson) leaves his girlfriend Dolly (Ruby Elzy) in favor of Undine (Fredi Washington), but he soon leaves her too. Brutus is a master manipulator, liar, and swindler who murders his friend Jeff (Frank Wilson) over a crap game. He ends up on a chain gang, but escapes to Haiti where the white trader Smithers (Dudley Digges) buys his freedom. He then scams his way into a business partnership with Smithers and becomes rich. He plays tricks on the natives with a gun, proclaiming that only a silver bullet can kill him.
The Proud Valley (1940):
African American singing star Paul Robeson heads the cast as David, a black stoker seeaking work in the coal mines of Wales. He finds an ally in the form of miner Dick Parry (Edward Chapman), who is less interested in David's capacity for work than he is in the newcomer's robust baritone. It seems that Parry is in charge of the local miner's choir, and he hopes to win the national singing meet on the strength of David's vocal chords. An unexpected disaster not only puts an end to this dream, but also threatens to financially wipe out Parry, his family and all his friends.
Native Land (1942):
The exigencies of the first Hollywood "Red Scare", fomented by the Martin Dies committee, prompted the US Senate Civil Liberties Committee to produce Native Land, a 1942 paean to the Four Freedoms. Narrated by Paul Robeson, the film employs a cast of familiar if not stellar character actors in a story of how certain enemies within the US have done their best to suppress their fellow citizens' rights to freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly and freedom from want. The villains are the usual run of fat-cat capitalists, bigoted "patriots" and strikebreakers, while the heroes and heroines are farmers, sharecroppers, union leaders, minorities and the like.
Sanders of the River (1935):
Based on the book by Edgar Wallace and produced by London Film Productions, the adventure drama Sanders of the River is an Imperialist propaganda film about British Colonial rule in Africa. Leslie Banks plays Commissioner "Lord Sandy" Sanders, who maintains British rule over the N'Gombi district of Nigeria. The fugitive Bosambo (Paul Robeson) helps out Sanders by humiliating the evil Chief Mofolaba (Tony Wane). Sanders then recognizes Bosambo as chief of the Ochuri people and peace is maintained for five years. When Sanders leaves for London, word gets out that he is dead and white men come in to sell guns and liquor to the natives.
In this drama, a black American corporal gets court-martialed for a murder and receives a death sentence. Unfortunately, he is innocent. A white captain believes him and gives him one last furlough so he can spend New Year's Eve with his friends. Naturally the corporal uses the opportunity to go AWOL. The captain is later thrown out of the military and imprisoned for letting the colonel go. The colonel had no idea that the captain suffered so much on his behalf. The former captain, feels betrayed by the colonel and vows to get his revenge. After he is finally freed from prison, the ex-captain goes on a world-wide search for the former colonel.
Paul Robeson: Tribute to an Artist (1979):
Saul J. Turellís Academy Award-winning documentary short Paul Robeson: Tribute to an Artist, narrated by Sidney Poitier, traces his career through his activism and his socially charged performances of his signature song, ďOlí Man River.Ē
Store CommentsSpecial Features All new, digital transfers created from the best surviving elements Audio commentaries by historians Jeffrey C. Stewart (The Emperor Jones_) and Pearl Bowser (_Body and Soul) Musical scores by Wycliffe Gordon (Body and Soul) and Courtney Pine (Borderline) 1958 Pacifica Radio interview with Paul Robeson (Courtesy of Pacifica Radio Archives) Four new video programs featuring interviews with actors Ruby Dee and James Earl Jones, filmmaker William Greaves, cinematographer Tom Hurwitz, film historians Ian Christie and Stephen Bourne, and Paul Robeson Jr., and including film clips from Song of Freedom (1936), King Solomonís Mines (1937), and Big Fella (1938) Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing PLUS: A book featuring an excerpt from Paul Robesonís Here I Stand, new essays by Clement Alexander Price, Hilton Als, Charles Burnett, Ian Christie, Deborah Willis, and Charles Musser, a reprinted article by Harlem Renaissance writer Geraldyn Dismond, and a note from Pete Seeger
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