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A Natural Born Gambler (1916)

 -  Short | Comedy  -  24 July 1916 (USA)
5.7
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Ratings: 5.7/10 from 96 users  
Reviews: 7 user

A lovable scoundrel is busted for gambling and thrown into jail, where he dreams of playing poker - but even in his dreams, he loses.

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Cast

Credited cast:
Bert Williams ...
The Hon. Bert Williams, walking delegate
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Wes Jenkins ...
Brother Gardner
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Storyline

Our story centers upon the activities of a Negro fraternal organization, the Independent Order of Calcimine Artists of America. [Inside joke: "calcimine" is whitewash, and yet most of these black actors appear to have darkened their complexions with blackface makeup.] The group meets in the back of a saloon. Their leader, Brother Scott, is a lawyer who disapproves of gambling-- although, after breaking up a poker game, he doesn't object to appropriating others' winnings. Our protagonist is lodge member Bert Williams, described as a "walking delegate," who is clearly in arrears with both the saloon's barkeep, Hostetter Johnson, and with the lodge itself. Early on, he is compelled to remit the dues he owes (three dollars), which he does reluctantly. [Some prints of the film omit the next sequence: After leaving a meeting with his friend Limpy Jones, who is handicapped with gout and must ride on Bert's shoulders, Bert passes a graveyard where he overhears two chicken thieves splitting up... Written by wmorrow59

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Short | Comedy

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24 July 1916 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In an unprecedented move for its day in 1915, Biograph Company executives hired actor Bert Williams to star, produce, direct, and write his own films, having full control, the first time a Black-American ever had such control given by a mainstream movie company. The two films made for Biograph were "A Natural Born Gambler" 1916, and Fish (1916). See more »

Connections

Featured in Ethnic Notions (1986) See more »

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User Reviews

 
90 years old and still laugh-out-loud funny
16 May 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Ignore the horrendous dialog cards -- that sort of "dialect" speech was offensive then and it's nearly unbearable now. But do not, do not, DO NOT miss seeing the immortal Bert Williams doing one of his most famous pantomimes -- it's giving nothing away to tell you it's the bit at the end, as contemporary audiences were enticed to the movie with the promise of seeing this routine from the 1911 Ziegfield Follies. Mr. Williams was born into a terrible era and we lost him way too soon; I'm glad that the effort was made to preserve this film (and well preserved, too; the Slapstick Encyclopedia seems to have a complete copy with remarkably little image deterioration) and wonder what sort of wonderful things he might have done had he lived longer.


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