A minister is malevolent and sinister behind his righteous facade. He consorts with, and later extorts from, the owner of a gambling house, and betrays an honest girl, eventually driving ...
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Boise De Legge
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A minister is malevolent and sinister behind his righteous facade. He consorts with, and later extorts from, the owner of a gambling house, and betrays an honest girl, eventually driving them both to ruin.Written by
Martin H. Booda <email@example.com>
The New York state censor board initially had strong objections to the dark and sinister portrayal of a man of the cloth. But with no money left for reshoots, producer Oscar Micheaux shot a quick ending which makes most of the film's action a dream of the heroine's. See more »
Mother Martha Jane looks through her Bible for the saved money to show it to the sisters, but it's missing. She leaves the book on the table and while searching through some drawers, three shots of the sisters show no book on the table. When the mother returns to the table, the book is back. See more »
Paul Robeson plays a really sinister con man who will dip to any level to get what he wants. He pretends to be a Reverend and soon he sets his eyes on the good girl Isabelle (Mercedes Gilbert). At first her and her mother just see him as a kind-hearted preacher but soon the daughter realizes his evil ways include trying to steal her life savings.
Director Oscar Micheaux had already made several movies but there's no question that this here was going to be his epic. Robeson was already well-known on the stage so the two of them teaming up seemed like a grand idea but apparently the two men fought for most of the shooting time and apparently they hated each other so much that Robeson wouldn't even discuss this film. It's also said that the original version was much darker but the director was forced to cut it down by several reels, which is really too bad.
As it stands, BODY AND SOUL is a very impressive movie and it's really shocking at how well it turned out and especially when you consider that the budget was very low and of course there was the behind-the-scenes issues. There's no question that the greatest thing about the picture is the performance by Robeson who really does do a terrific job at coming off as this holy man. He certainly makes you believe this fake side of his character and it's easy to see why someone would fall for him. The actor also perfectly nails the more sinister side of the character.
The film looks very good, again, for its budget and the editing is also good. The entire movie looks very professional, which wasn't always the case for these early race movies. I'd also argue that the story itself was quite good and it really wasn't too often that you'd see any movie taking a look at religious figures in a negative way. BODY AND SOUL is certainly another winning film from the director and a great start for Robeson.
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