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Yamekraw (1930)

 |  Short, Musical
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 21 users  
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In a wordless story with semi-surreal stage sets, a poor black man ventures from his ramshackle rural home to the big city, where a dancing girl in a dive two-times him. He returns to his home and wife's arms.



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Title: Yamekraw (1930)

Yamekraw (1930) on IMDb 6.4/10

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Credited cast:
Jimmy Mordecai


Through song and dance, the story of the the lives of the residents of Yamekraw, a rural primarily black and poor settlement on the outskirts of Savannah, Georgia, is told. The story focuses on a young couple in love, they who decide to get married. To support their new married life, the husband travels into the big city, where the temptations are many. The question becomes whether their marriage can survive both the separation and the temptations he faces while away. Written by Huggo

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Short | Musical





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Vitaphone release #1009. See more »

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A nice little experiment...
27 August 2011 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

Yamekraw, according to the movie, is a rural village in Georgia. However, when I did an internet search, I could find no mention of such a town--so I assume it's fictional.

This Vitaphone short is an experimental film--sort of an avant-garde black Broadway-style musical. It's certainly not a film that will please the masses--either back in 1930 or today. However, it is in some ways very modern...though in a few other ways very much a product of its times. A major studio like Warner Brothers making an all-black film was unusual and the film, for the most part, portrays black people as people. However, there were a few scenes of watermelon eating and the like. As I said, it was a product of its times.

The style of the film is almost like a silent with added music. You don't hear any singing until late in the film. The sets are not at all like movie sets but are exaggerated--like those you'd see in a play--and with a bit of a surreal touch.

The film's theme is apparently life in the back country versus the big city. When the main character leaves town, he's excited to be going to the city. However, it's a less than satisfying place and eventually he returns home to his 'Mammy'. Again, remember the context--such stereotypical sentimentality was the norm--and at least the studio chose to employ all these black performers in a work that was not, generally, degrading. While today it might be easy to dismiss the film as racist, it was trying to be inclusive and is an important historical artifact that should not be dismissed. Well worth a look.

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