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

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Overview

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6.4/10   557 votes »
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Down 9% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Director:
Writers:
Eugene O'Neill (play)
DuBose Heyward (screenplay)
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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:
The Emperor Porgy 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:
Fredi Washington's scenes were reshot using dark pancake makeup because she looked "too white" in the first rushes. It was feared audiences would think Paul Robeson was embracing a white woman.See more »
Quotes:
Brutus Jones:[With bravado] It takes a silver bullet to kill Brutus Jones.See more »
Movie Connections:
Soundtrack:
St. Louis BluesSee more »

FAQ

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful.
The Emperor Porgy, 13 November 2011
Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York

Although purist fans of Eugene O'Neill will not be happy, a great deal of the spirit of The Emperor Jones is captured in this rather abbreviated version with an additional backstory added about how one Brutus Jones, former Pullman porter in the USA got to be the ruler of a Caribbean island and The Emperor Jones.

The original play has the white merchant character Smithers played here by Dudley Digges as the eyes of author O'Neill who narrates the first scene in flashback. Here we have a straight narrative with a backstory added. If you think that the backstory looks something like Porgy And Bess that's because the screenplay was written by Dubose Hayward the original author of that work before the Gershwin brothers set it to music.

Back in those days being a Pullman porter was a status symbol among black people, the first labor union organized that gained decent wages and collective bargaining rights for black people was the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. When Brutus Jones kills his friend in that crap game in a fight over a woman, he's not just a fugitive, he's lost a lot of standing among his peers. But in fleeing to that Caribbean island where the natives are descended from escaped slaves who still retained some animist beliefs from Africa, he's got it all over this crowd and reasserts himself with nerve, knowledge, and a little trickery and a bit of help from Dudley Digges's character.

Although he did not originate the role, Paul Robeson debuted with it on the London stage and the actor who Eugene O'Neill handpicked to originate the part, one Charles Gilpin faded into obscurity. Of course there's also no singing in O'Neill's Emperor Jones, but Robeson's bass/baritone gets a few good songs in as well, from hymns, to Negro spirituals, to some convict laments. Robeson was always a powerful performer no matter what you think of his politics.

This version of The Emperor Jones has as much Hayward as O'Neill, still what O'Neill was trying to convey comes out in a glorious triumphal performance by Paul Robeson.

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