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Murder on Lenox Avenue (1941)

| Drama
Dramatic events in a Harlem apartment house center around Pa Wilkins, chosen by the Better Business League to replace their ousted, crooked leader Marshall...who wants revenge; and Pa's ... See full summary »



(story), | 1 more credit »

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Mamie Smith ...
Alec Lovejoy ...
Flivver Johnson (as Alex Lovejoy)
Norman Astwood ...
Mr. Marshall
Augustus Smith ...
Pa Wilkins (as Gus Smith)
Alberta Perkins ...
Edna Mae Harris ...
Sidney Easton ...
Speed Simmons
Dene Larry ...
Ola Wilkins
Ernie Ransom ...
Jim Bracton
Earl Sydnor ...
Herman Green ...
George Williams ...
Cristola Williams ...
Emily Santos ...
Flo Lee ...


Dramatic events in a Harlem apartment house center around Pa Wilkins, chosen by the Better Business League to replace their ousted, crooked leader Marshall...who wants revenge; and Pa's ward Jim Bracton, a two-timing Romeo whose affairs are coming to a crisis. And hanging around is Marshall's murderous junkie henchman, Lomax. Will it all end in someone's being killed? Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

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african american | See All (1) »


The rackets exposed!







Also Known As:

Murder on Lenox Ave.  »

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Referenced in Classified X (1998) See more »


Written by Donald Heywood
Sung by Alberta Perkins
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User Reviews

Not the greatest, but not the worse!
19 January 2006 | by (Michigan) – See all my reviews

Not a bad movie at all but certainly not the greatest but it is watchable. With most of these Black Cinema films, you have to watch a few times before you get it. Instead of being called, Murder on Lenox Ave, it should of been called, Harlem Blues or something.

The most interesting of the cast are the pretty actresses who all give convincing performances. First, Dene Larry who plays Ola is quite convincing in her role as the good girl who disobeys her father for the first time but it is a good decision. She's sweet but speaks her mind when its time to do so. She's a natural as an actress, giving feeling, personality, and charm in everything, she has the right gestures and expressions whether happy or sad.

Cristola Williams plays Rosalia, the woman who loves a man who doesn't love her. She plays her role like Ann Harding or Helen Twelvetrees would, always the sad woman who can't helping loving a bad man. Cristola is a gorgeous lady who was also a fine actress of stage and screen, she appeared in quite a few Black Cinema films. She was also a lovely singer. Cristola Williams and Dene Larry are two wonderful black actresses, or Negro actresses I should say, who should be given recognition. Just because they didn't go to Hollywood or cross over their not looked at as important but they are because they contribued to Black movie-making a great deal, by making their own films to prove they had what it took, no stereotype, no labels, just playing various people from all walks of life and having the power to create their own images. Even Blacks in Hollywood don't have that freedom today.

The three sisters, or show biz chicks who live upstairs are wonderful together, their like a comedy threesome, their sassy and sexy but good girls. Their names are never said, but their listed in the credits at the end as Emily Santos, Flo Lee and Wahneta or Wahnetta San. They were also in Sunday Sinners, which was done the year before this movie and involved the same cast.

Alec Lovejoy is always good to see. Edna Mae Harris, a familiar face in Black Cinema is a singer and the other woman. She sings two charming songs and looks gorgeous. She resembles Lena Horne in voice and looks in this movie. I like her sweet instead of hot. Mamie Smith is always a natural, so you can't expect anything bad from her. Norman Astwood, handsome talented actor is one of the unsung black actors who we don't hear about just because he didn't go to Hollywood or cross over but his contributions are evident. He was a popular actor in his time. He was too white looking for Hollywood but through Black Cinema, he got his chance. He's kind of like a Clark Gable in a way.

Great blues singer Mamie Smith always is a delight in all the movies she's done. Alberta Perkins was a true actress and it shows, she was in quite a few films and on stage. She was a powerful woman with a powerful presence and powerful voice with a wonderful sense of humor. Mamie Smith, Alberta Perkins, Henrietta Loveless, Laura Bowman, and Mercedes Gilbert were wonderful actresses who got to show their various talents in Black Cinema films a.k.a Race Films, Colored Cast or Black cast films but they had what it took for mainstream Hollywood and Broadway. They had what it took to cross over but whites being prejudice and partial back then had a limit to how many Blacks they would let be stars and that position was filled by Ethel Waters, the token Black, who got a chance to cross over and be successful in Hollywood and Broadway, since she was getting all the breaks there was no room for others. It's always been a limit to blacks being successful mainstream, especially towards actresses even in Hollywood today only a few make it to the top. Anyways, they all are true talents and their contributions and talents is undeniable. The movie has a lot of different stories going on, a father who wants his daughter to marry a man she doesn't love, the father doesn't know but the guy is out for no good, he really wants the trust fund so that's the only reason why he'll marry his daughter, the guy has a nightclub singer he's chasing, and another young lady who lives in the same building who's hopelessly in love with him and wants him to marry her right away but he treats her bad after he got what he wanted, after watching the movie a few times I found the reason why she kills herself is because she's pregnant with his child and is ashame for having sex outside of marriage (remember, this is the 1940's folks), so when the guy doesn't want want to marry her and she commits suicide by jumping out of the apartment building window, the father's daughter wants to marry another man and go down south to teach but the father thinks he's crooked, the father wants to help Harlem be a better place and drive the crooked people out, there's fighting and shooting but there is surprisingly no real happy ending. Everything is fast paced. It may take a few times watching the movie to get everything going on. A lot of things are going on without real explanation, like for example, the girl who is pregnant out of wedlock, there's no mention of it but it's obvious.

This doesn't seem like an amateur cast, most everyone in the cast has been in movies before and most were in show business. I would like to have seen a little bit more in this movie. It seems everything is crammed at the end.

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