Edgar G. Ulmer's "Moon Over Harlem" has its good points and its bad points. It's good points are that, as several posters have mentioned, it wisely avoids the stereotypes that many all-black-cast films of the time--known as "race films," almost all of which were made by whites, as was this one--were party to. The black people in this film come from strong families, are educated, gainfully employed, and are about as far from the "Stepin Fetchit" image of blacks that pervaded films of the time as you could get. Its downside is that, frankly, it's just not very good. Performances range from just above competent to just below embarrassing, and, even taking into account its rock-bottom $8000 budget, the preponderance of stock footage gets annoying and its production shortcomings--the sound is terrible, for one thing--are frustrating. Ulmer had a good idea with this film, and it's obvious that he was trying for something much different than that found in the typical "race film" of the time, but as so often happened with Ulmer's projects, talent and good intentions couldn't overcome a lack of money. The cast tries hard but they're just not up to it, and the general shoddiness of the production and the amateurishness of the performances help to defeat what potential this film had to stand out from the other race films of its day. Ulmer gets an "A" for effort, but a "D" for results.
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