6.5/10
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The Emperor Jones (1933)

Passed | | Drama | 29 September 1933 (USA)
Unscrupulously ambitious Brutus Jones escapes from jail after killing a guard and through bluff and bravado finds himself the emperor of a Caribbean island.

Directors:

, (uncredited)

Writers:

(play), (screenplay) (as Du-Bose Heyward)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
Frank H. Wilson ...
Jeff (as Frank Wilson)
...
Ruby Elzy ...
Dolly
George Haymid Stamper ...
Lem (as George Stamper)
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Storyline

At a Baptist prayer meeting, the preacher leads a prayer for Brutus Jones, who is leaving to become a railway porter. Jones joins the congregation in a spiritual. Once on the train, Jeff, a porter, shows Jones the ropes. Jones secretly takes up with Jeff's girl, Undine. He makes some money in a deal with a rich businessman on the train. Jones proves to be a cunning manipulator and a good liar. In a crap game, Jones stabs Jeff over a pair of loaded dice. Now doing hard labour, Jones kills a white prison guard and escapes. Shovelling coal on a ship in the Caribbean, Jones swims to an island. He is brought before the island's ruler, where Smithers, a crooked white trader, buys his freedom. Jones schemes his way into a partnership in Smithers' business, then finally control of the entire island through a touch of witchcraft, or so it seems. Brutus declares himself to be The Emperor Jones... Smithers reports on the unrest that Jones' rule is causing. One morning, the palace is empty of ... Written by David Steele

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

29 September 1933 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El emperador Jones  »

Box Office

Budget:

$250,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (2003 restored) | (original)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Film debut (uncredited, in a crowd scene) of Billie Holiday. See more »

Quotes

Smithers: [Jones prepares to escape into the jungle] Give my regards to any ghosts yer 'appen to meet!
Brutus Jones: [pause] If dat ghost have money, I tells him never to haunt you lessen he wants to lose it!
See more »

Connections

Version of Armchair Theatre: Emperor Jones (1958) See more »

Soundtracks

I'm Travelin'
(uncredited)
Composer unknown
Sung by Paul Robeson as a stoker on ship
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Rated X By An...
26 July 2016 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Unscrupulously ambitious Brutus Jones escapes from jail after killing a guard and through bluff and bravado finds himself the emperor of a Caribbean island.

Apparently, when this film came out it was controversial in black communities because of the use of the n-word, and even Paul Robeson went on to say he "regretted" the picture. Strange that today (2016) we celebrate the film as a great achievement.

Indeed, regardless of any racism or stereotypes, we have to marvel at the achievement of making a film with strong black characters in 1933. Has any other film even come close to this around the same time? I don't think so. Black actors were still largely used for comic relief up through the 1940s!


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