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Within Our Gates (1920)

Not Rated | | Drama, Romance | 12 January 1920 (USA)
Abandoned by her fiancé, an educated black woman with a shocking past dedicates herself to helping a near bankrupt school for impoverished black youths.

Director:

Oscar Micheaux

Writer:

Oscar Micheaux
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2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Evelyn Preer Evelyn Preer ... Sylvia Landry
Flo Clements Flo Clements ... Alma Prichard
James D. Ruffin James D. Ruffin ... Conrad Drebert - Sylvia's Fiancé
Jack Chenault Jack Chenault ... Larry Prichard - Alma's Stepbrother
William Smith William Smith ... Philip Gentry - A Detective
Charles D. Lucas Charles D. Lucas ... Dr. V. Vivian
Bernice Ladd Bernice Ladd ... Mrs. Geraldine Stratton
Mrs. Evelyn Mrs. Evelyn ... Mrs. Elena Warwick
William Starks William Starks ... Jasper Landry (as William Stark)
Mattie Edwards Mattie Edwards ... Jasper's Wife
Ralph Johnson Ralph Johnson ... Philip Gridlestone
E.G. Tatum E.G. Tatum ... Efram - Gridlestone's Servant
Grant Edwards Grant Edwards ... Emil Landry
Grant Gorman Grant Gorman ... Armand Gridlestone
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Leigh Whipper Leigh Whipper
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Storyline

Southern negro Sylvia Landry visits her cousin Alma in the north, where there is less racial prejudice than in her home town of Piney Woods in the deep south, and is anxiously awaiting her fiancé, Conrad. But Alma has designs on Conrad and tricks Sylvia into a compromising situation when he arrives, and he abandons her. Disheartened, she returns to Piney Woods to help a reverend running a school for young negroes. Sylvia learns that the reverend hasn't the heart to turn away poor students, and unless he can raise $5,000 to supplement the $1.49 per child per year that the state supplies, the school will be closed. She goes up north again to try to raise the money and has little success, but meets kindly negro, Dr. V. Vivian, who helps her regain her stolen purse. When she saves a child from being hit by an auto, she herself is slightly injured. But the owner of the car is philanthropist Mrs. Elena Warwick, who is sympathetic to her quest and promises to donate the $5,000 to the school.... Written by Arthur Hausner <genart@volcano.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A Story of the Negro See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Release Date:

12 January 1920 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Chocolate Kiddies See more »

Filming Locations:

Fort Lee, New Jersey, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Silent

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film has been repeatedly censored over the years. In its first outing, the rape and lynching scenes were heavily edited as they were deemed too provocative after the 1919 Chicago race riots. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Alma Prichard: Do pardon me for interrupting - but I forgot this...
See more »

Alternate Versions

In 1993, the Library of Congress Motion Picture Conservation Center restored this film as close to the original as possible, from the only known surviving copy in Spain. The Spanish intertitles were retranslated into English using typical Micheaux language. Only one short sequence was missing and that was summarized with an intertitle frame. The running time is 79 minutes. See more »

Connections

Featured in Independent Lens: Birth of a Movement (2017) See more »

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User Reviews

The earliest surviving film from a black director
30 August 1999 | by Jaime N. ChristleySee all my reviews

"Within Our Gates" is of enormous historical interest as a remnant of a brief period in the early twenties/late teens when there were (due to segregation laws) films made and distributed specifically by and for African-Americans. In this way, it has most deservedly been chosen for placement in the National Film Registry.

By today's standards the film is as silly, half-baked, and paper-thin as something by a high school playwright. The performances are pretty atrocious, but for the most part they are at home with the style of acting that pervaded films of the silent era.

It dealt with provocative issues of the time, such as overt racism, lynching, and the sorry state of education for the black community. Eighty years later we may have done a bit of shoring up, but no one's foolish enough to say that we're doing any better today. One positive thing that can be said is that a film dealing with these subjects today is encouraged, whereas in 1920 "Within Our Gates" was crushed by disapproving educators, legislators, and spineless distributors.


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