This filmed version of Uncle Tom's Cabin is notable as the first time in cinema history an actual man of color was the lead
For only the second time since I first started writing these reviews for IMDb in 2006, I'm dedicating this particular month-Black History Month-to the films of African-Americans in front of and behind the camera in chronological order. So we're in 1914 with one of several adaptations from before and after of Harriet Beecher Stowe's "Uncle Tom's Cabin". A big difference between this one and previous versions, however, is that this marked the first time on film an actual man of color named Sam Lucas-who was also the first person to do so on stage-portrayed the title character. Though the movie as I watched on YouTube was choppily edited, the print wasn't always very clear, and there was a Spanish narration during the intertitles, this wasn't a bad version of the then-popular story. Even the embarrassing scenes involving the pickaninny Topsy were brief enough to not cause too much harm. And seeing Lucas doing his melodramatic turns was at least interesting enough in observing what kind of performances was considered effective then. Oh, and while I noticed many Caucasions also playing people of color, I noticed one other of Sam's race playing a slave Tom refuses to whip. Too bad he's not identified on the IMDb cast list. So on that note, this version of Uncle Tom's Cabin is worth a look.
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