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Murder in Harlem (1935)

 -  Mystery | Drama
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A black night watchman at a chemical factory finds the body of a murdered white woman. After he reports it, he finds himself accused of the murder.


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Clarence Brooks ...
Dorothy Van Engle ...
Andrew Bishop ...
Alec Lovejoy ...
Lem Hawkins
Laura Bowman ...
Mrs. Epps
Bee Freeman ...
The Catbird
Lionel Monagas ...
Undetermined Role
Alice B. Russell ...
Mrs. Vance
Sandy Burns ...
Undetermined Role
Lea Morris ...
Undetermined Role
Joie Brown Jr. ...
Undetermined Role
Eunice Wilson ...
Henrietta Loveless ...
Undetermined Role
Lorenzo McClane ...
Arthur Vance
Helen Davis ...
Undetermined Role (as Helen Lawrence)


A black night watchman at a chemical factory finds the body of a murdered white woman. After he reports it, he finds himself accused of the murder. Written by

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Mystery | Drama






Also Known As:

Brand of Cain  »

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Did You Know?


The lead character Henry Glory pays his way through university by selling copies of his own novel door to door. This is a self-reference by director Oscar Micheaux, who supported himself much the same way when he was starting out as a writer. See more »


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


Harlem Rhythm Dance
(1933) (uncredited)
Music and Lyrics by Clarence Williams
See more »

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6 November 2013 | by (Korea) – See all my reviews

This is the first movie directed by an African-American man. Done in 1935, it was exceedingly difficult for him to find places to film it, to put together financing, and to get any sort of distribution. See the movie for its historical importance.

The theme of the film, based on the case of Leo Frank, deals with a black man being railroaded for a murder he didn't commit. There is some great acting in the film, particularly from Alec Lovejoy as the man who covers for his boss. The heroine of the film, Claudia, played by Dorothy Van Engle is graceful and cool as the sister who rightfully believes in her brother's innocence and will fight for it. In a just world, she would have been a massive star. She shines effortlessly in every scene she's in. Also noteworthy is the woman at the end of the film who is bursting with a desire to tell detectives what she knows. She offers a powerfully restrained confession.

There is some excellent work here. The version I downloaded from was poorly lighted in places and had some skipping in the middle, but it's still a powerful indictment of the cynicism of a white factory owner who will sell his black employees out in a New York minute, regardless of their involvement. The greatest credit should go to Micheaux who had to move heaven and earth to get this film made and distributed - an honor which cannot be taken from him.

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