A nightclub singer refuses to "date" customers, so she's framed for the murder of her aunt, convicted of the killing and sent to prison. However, her friend, who is a police detective, ... See full summary »
Edna Mae Harris,
Robert Earl Jones
A WWII tale of romance that begins during New Orlean's "Mardi Gras" celebration when a soldier and a girl meet and fall in love. He asks her to marry him but she decides to wait until his ... See full summary »
Edgar G. Ulmer
A cowboy tries to protect a young woman whose father was murdered because he had railroad maps that showed the location of a proposed new line. Now the killers are after her because they think she has the maps.
Edgar G. Ulmer
Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams,
In a juke joint, sharecropper Zeke falls for a beautiful dancer, Chick, but she's only setting him up for a rigged craps game. He loses $100, the money he got for the sale of his family's ... See full summary »
Daniel L. Haynes,
Nina Mae McKinney,
An undercover government agent on a case in Mississipi meets and falls in love with a beautiful young woman who's being menaced by a local crime boss. He rescues the girl, and they leave ... See full summary »
A young man named Jean in post-World War I Chicago falls in love with a beautiful girl named Edith. He proposes to her, but realizes that she's involved in the rackets and won't leave them,... See full summary »
This movie begins with a wedding and ends with a funeral, so one would expect it to be a tragedy. In fact, it is uplifting and exciting. This is actually an extraordinary portrayal of Harlem around the 1930's. It is the richest and most interesting portrayal of life recorded in that period. After watching hundreds of films where Afro-Americans are limited to cameo roles as smiling, dancing servants, it is exciting to see them portraying three dimensional people. Only King Vidor's "Cabin in the Sky" matches it for intensity and realism.
This film was shot in four days on an $8,000 budget by the cinema genius director, "King of the B's" Edgar Ulmer. It unfortunately has technical problems in the first reel, on the Platinum DVD, I watched. It was difficult to understand the dialog over the noisy soundtrack for about five minutes. However, the soundtrack improves quite significantly and the problem soon disappears.
The plot of the film is a political reformer (read "communist" in the subtext) fighting against a hoodlum who has been running an insurance=protection racket. This could have been totally stereotyped in lesser hands, but Ulmer and his screenwriter wife, Shirley, has been able to make both characters believable and interesting. The reformer really does love Harlem and really does want to unite black people. Even the gangster responds to this idea of unity, refusing to go along with the white gangsters who actually control crime in Harlem.
A couple of other amazing things about this film: it contains perhaps the first inter-racial romance and almost kiss (there is a cut just before the lips touch) and their is an incestuous sub-plot about a step-father lusting after his step-daughter.
This is a unique film and anybody who wants to see what the Golden age of Hollywood might have been like if it wasn't so racist should see it.
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