IMDb > The Emperor Jones (1933)
The Emperor Jones
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The Emperor Jones (1933) More at IMDbPro »

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Overview

User Rating:
6.5/10   550 votes »
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Director:
Writers:
Eugene O'Neill (play)
DuBose Heyward (screenplay)
(more)
Contact:
View company contact information for The Emperor Jones on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
29 September 1933 (USA) See more »
Genre:
Plot:
Unscrupulously ambitious Brutus Jones escapes from jail after killing a guard and through bluff and bravado finds himself the emperor of a Caribbean island. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Awards:
1 win See more »
User Reviews:
Eugene O'Neill Breaking Another Taboo. See more (17 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)

Paul Robeson ... Brutus Jones
Dudley Digges ... Smithers
Frank H. Wilson ... Jeff (as Frank Wilson)
Fredi Washington ... Undine
Ruby Elzy ... Dolly
George Haymid Stamper ... Lem (as George Stamper)
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Brandon Evans ... Carrington (uncredited)
Taylor Gordon ... Stick-man (uncredited)

Billie Holiday ... Extra in Nightclub Scene (uncredited)

Rex Ingram ... Court Crier (uncredited)

Moms Mabley ... Marcella (uncredited)
Harold Nicholas ... Young Tap Dancer (uncredited)
Blueboy O'Connor ... Treasurer (uncredited)
Fritz Pollard ... Extra in Nightclub Scene (uncredited)
Lorenzo Tucker ... Extra in Nightclub Scene (uncredited)
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Directed by
Dudley Murphy 
 
Writing credits
Eugene O'Neill (play "The Emperor Jones")

DuBose Heyward (screenplay) (as Du-Bose Heyward)

DuBose Heyward  additional scenes (uncredited)

Produced by
Gifford Cochran .... producer (uncredited)
John Krimsky .... producer (uncredited)
 
Original Music by
Frank Tours 
 
Cinematography by
Ernest Haller 
 
Film Editing by
Grant Whytock 
 
Art Direction by
Herman Rosse 
 
Production Management
J. Edward Shugrue .... production manager
George Knafka .... production manager (uncredited)
 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Joseph H. Nadel .... assistant director
 
Sound Department
Joseph I. Kane .... sound engineer (as Joseph Kane)
 
Camera and Electrical Department
Jack Shalitt .... still photographer (uncredited)
 
Casting Department
Fritz Pollard .... casting associate (uncredited)
 
Music Department
Rosamond Johnson .... vocal arranger (as J. Rosamond Johnson)
Max Manne .... music synchronization
Frank Tours .... musical director
 
Other crew
Gifford Cochran .... presenter
William C. de Mille .... supervisor (as William C. de-Mille)
John Krimsky .... presenter
 
Crew verified as complete


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Additional Details

Also Known As:
Runtime:
72 min | 76 min (2003 restored version) | USA:80 min (original version)
Country:
Language:
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Certification:
Canada:G (Ontario) | Finland:K-16 (1936) | Finland:(Banned) (1934) | UK:A | USA:Passed (National Board of Review) | USA:Approved (PCA #1316-R, 29 August 1935 for re-release)

Did You Know?

Trivia:
Because of the objection to the word "nigger", United Artists deleted it from prints to be shown in Negro theaters. Still, the United Negro Improvement Association condemned the film.See more »
Quotes:
Brutus Jones:Ain't talking big what makes a man big, s'long as he makes folks believe it?See more »
Movie Connections:
Featured in Ethnic Notions (1986)See more »
Soundtrack:
I'm Travelin'See more »

FAQ

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
13 out of 16 people found the following review useful.
Eugene O'Neill Breaking Another Taboo., 20 October 2005
Author: theowinthrop from United States

In the 1920s American's greatest dramatist arrived on Broadway in the person of Eugene O'Neill. The son of a well remembered Shakespearean and Romantic actor (the nightmare relationship of Eugene, his father James, his mother, and his older brother is the subject of his last play A LONG DAY'S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT), O'Neill was not afraid to tackle subjects that were not usually discussed in American drama: incest in DESIRE UNDER THE ELMS for instance. He experimented with different styles of acting, copying the Greek trilogy of Aschylus in MOURNING BECOMES ELECTRA, and using masked actors in THE GREAT GOD BROWN. But he also created the first modern drama of importance with a central figure who was an African American. This was THE EMPEROR JONES (1925).

Brutus Jones is a tremendous step forward in American dramaturgy because he is the central figure. Than said O'Neill's play still maintains stereotyping. Brutus is a porter on a train, who frequently plays craps, and who has an argument with his friend Jeff and kills him in a fight with razors. He flees to a foreign island, and he soon discovers that he has leadership qualities there that enable him to set up a monarchy there with himself as Emperor. He even sets up a court with uniformed courtiers. But the moment he gives orders to destroy a village for not showing proper deference to him, his reign begins to fall apart. And soon from being Emperor he becomes a hunted animal.

The stereotyping continues, with Brutus slowly losing his bearings and balance due to the incessant drums beating in the forest surrounding him. He hallucinates and sees the ghost of Jeff. He has always spread the word of his invincibility by saying only silver bullets could kill him. So his pursuers melt silver down to make the bullets they use to hunt him down and kill him.

As was pointed out on another discussion of the film on this thread, O'Neill based the fall of Jones on that of Haitian Emperor Henri I (Henri Christophe), except that he committed suicide with a silver bullet when he was about to be captured and executed.

The play was successful, and would be one of the first triumphs in Paul Robeson's career. He did not originate the role (as he did not originate the role of Joe in the stage production of SHOWBOAT). But he became identified with the role - to the point that he made this independent, somewhat defective production of the film in 1933. Except for Dudley Digges, as the one white man in Jones' kingdom (and Jones' occasional intimate), the cast is pretty forgettable. But it is watching Robeson in his one major lead role that holds our attention. He is a commanding figure in the film and fits the role of a man who loses his throne and power and sanity and life in one evil night. Still, one really wishes that the film's production values could have been better - some of the special effects (the appearance of the ghost of Jeff for example) are quite weak.

With it's defects it is a measure of watching Robeson at his best that I'd rate it a "7" out of "10".

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