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Within Our Gates (1920)

6.4
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 921 users  
Reviews: 13 user | 6 critic

Abandoned by her fiancé, an educated negro woman with a shocking past dedicates herself to helping a near bankrupt school for impoverished negro youths.

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Title: Within Our Gates (1920)

Within Our Gates (1920) on IMDb 6.4/10

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Evelyn Preer ...
Sylvia Landry
Flo Clements ...
Alma Prichard
James D. Ruffin ...
Conrad Drebert - Sylvia's Fiancé
Jack Chenault ...
Larry Prichard - Alma's Stepbrother
William Smith ...
Philip Gentry - A Detective
Charles D. Lucas ...
Dr. V. Vivian
Bernice Ladd ...
Mrs. Geraldine Stratton
Mrs. Evelyn ...
Mrs. Elena Warwick
William Stark ...
Jasper Landry
Mattie Edwards ...
Jasper's Wife
Ralph Johnson ...
Philip Gridlestone
E.G. Tatum ...
Efram - Gridlestone's Servant
Grant Edwards ...
Emil Landry
Grant Gorman ...
Armand Gridlestone
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Leigh Whipper
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Storyline

Southern negro Sylvia Landry visits her cousin Alma in the north, where there is less racial prejudice than in her home town of Piney Woods in the deep south, and is anxiously awaiting her fiancé, Conrad. But Alma has designs on Conrad and tricks Sylvia into a compromising situation when he arrives, and he abandons her. Disheartened, she returns to Piney Woods to help a reverend running a school for young negroes. Sylvia learns that the reverend hasn't the heart to turn away poor students, and unless he can raise $5,000 to supplement the $1.49 per child per year that the state supplies, the school will be closed. She goes up north again to try to raise the money and has little success, but meets kindly negro, Dr. V. Vivian, who helps her regain her stolen purse. When she saves a child from being hit by an auto, she herself is slightly injured. But the owner of the car is philanthropist Mrs. Elena Warwick, who is sympathetic to her quest and promises to donate the $5,000 to the school.... Written by Arthur Hausner <genart@volcano.net>

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Genres:

Drama | Romance

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Details

Country:

Release Date:

12 January 1920 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Within Our Gates  »

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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film has been repeatedly censored over the years. In its first outing, the rape and lynching scenes were heavily edited as they were deemed too provocative after the 1919 Chicago race riots. See more »

Quotes

Old Ned: [Old Ned visits his white friends] Y'all knows what I always preach. This is a land for the white man and black folk got ta know their place. Let the white man go to Hell with his politics, wealth, and sins. Give me Jesus! Leave it to me, gen'men, I always preach that the vices and sins of the white folk will end them up in Hell. When the Judgement Day comes, more Negroes than whites will rise up to Heaven. Yessir, white folks is mighty fine!
[he leaves the room]
Old Ned: [now outside, speaking to himself]
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Connections

Featured in The American Experience: Midnight Ramble (1994) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Oscar Micheaux directed and wrote this powerful story about racial prejudice and its consequences.
11 January 1999 | by (Pine Grove, California) – See all my reviews

I was deeply affected by parts of this story about the plight of negroes as told for negroes by negro director Oscar Micheaux. Ostensibly, it's about a woman who tries to help a poor southern school for negroes by getting financial help to supplement the meager amount the state provides, but it is laced with observations about racial prejudice. One bigoted southern woman living in the north is against the women's suffrage movement for fear that negro women will get the right to vote. And she expresses her negative sentiment about educating negroes: "Thinking will give them a headache." Micheaux gets more points across in the best part of the film, the flashback scene near the end prefaced with a title card "Sylvia's Story." We see how a negro preacher agrees with some condescending whites that the negroes should keep their place, but privately condemns himself for doing so, announcing that "negroes and whites are equal" to himself. We see how injustice reigns with a lynch mob and how the innocent, even an innocent bystander, can easily become victims of racial prejudice. The film is worth seeing for this sequence alone, providing images that caused me to lose some sleep. Micheaux also slips in comments about the negroes' accomplishments in the Spanish-American and Mexican wars and WWI, as if to bolster the low self-image of his negro viewers. The film may be primitive by some standards, but Oscar Micheaux tells a powerful story.

The film was intended for negro audiences, but because of some controversial parts (rape and lynching) many exhibitors refused to show it, so very few saw it when it was released. This being the earliest surviving film made by an African American, it was placed on the National Film Registry and lovingly restored from the only surviving copy in Spain (see the alternative version listing for details). The Library of Congress is to be commended for doing such a fine job.


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A great film, is it on DVD? unsung1974
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