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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 94 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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Title: A Natural Born Gambler (1916)

A Natural Born Gambler (1916) on IMDb 5.7/10

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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 Black Shadows on the Silver Screen (1975) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Leave your brains at the door and laugh
21 June 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Yeah, it's pretty un-PC. But Bert Williams was the foundation of modern American comedy as well as a Black pioneer, so with this film (which is MUCH better than his other short "Fish"), you're getting history in the making.

The plot has been dealt with, as well as highlights such as the one-man poker game, the courtroom scene, and the graveyard hijinks. But what most modern viewers don't know is that Williams actually wrote and directed this film and it was actually a compilation of his classic stage routines (based largely on a skit called "The Darktown Poker Club" which also exists in record form) strung together in a makeshift story. The graveyard scene, by the way, is also a Williams' stage gag based on authentic Black folklore.

Bert made two other films, "Darktown Jubilee" (now lost) and "Fish" (mighty weak). This one preserves what made him so appealing on stage to audiences of the early 1900s. Laugh and learn from the foundation.


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