5.1/10
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4 user 1 critic

Veiled Aristocrats (1932)

John Walden, left home 20 years earlier and has been "passing" as white in a town where no one knew of his background. He returns home to take his now grown sister back with him so she too ... See full summary »

Director:

Oscar Micheaux
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On Disc

at Amazon

1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview:
Lucille Lewis Lucille Lewis ... Rena Walden
Walter Fleming Walter Fleming ... John Walden
Laura Bowman Laura Bowman ... Molly Walden
Lawrence Chenault Lawrence Chenault ... Judge Straight
Lorenzo Tucker Lorenzo Tucker ... John Warwick
Carl Mahon Carl Mahon ... Frank Fowler
Barrington Guy Barrington Guy ... George Tryon
Willor Lee Guilford Willor Lee Guilford ... Miss Waring
Bernardine Mason Bernardine Mason ... Singer
Aurora Edwards Aurora Edwards ... Cook
Mabel Garrett Mabel Garrett ... Maid
Arnold Wiley Arnold Wiley ... Driver
A.B. DeComathiere A.B. DeComathiere
Kathleen Noisette Kathleen Noisette ... (as Katherine Noisette)
Donald Heywood Donald Heywood
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Storyline

John Walden, left home 20 years earlier and has been "passing" as white in a town where no one knew of his background. He returns home to take his now grown sister back with him so she too can live a life as a white woman. He even goes so far as to find her a suitable white man to marry. Unfortunately, she can not get over the young black man she left back home. Written by A. Nonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

February 1932 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Aristocratas Velados See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Micheaux Film See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

A trailer and fragments from two reels survive in the Library of Congress. The rest is believed lost. Update: A 48-minute print has been located and preserved. It was released on DVD as part of the set "Pioneers of African-American Cinema" by Kino-Lorber in July 2016, and telecast on Turner Classic Movies on July 24, 2016. See more »

Goofs

In the next to last shot of the film, after the characters get into the car, the director can be heard saying "Cut!". See more »

Quotes

Miss Waring: He didn't have anything for dark people to do. He says they were e-vil.
[Party-goers break out in laughter]
See more »

Connections

Followed by Ten Minutes to Live (1932) See more »

Soundtracks

Many Happy Returns of the Day
(1931)
Music by Joseph A. Burke (as Joe Burke)
Lyrics by Al Dubin and Al Bryan (as Alfred Bryan)
Sung by Bernardine Mason
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Interesting, but pretty bad
24 July 2016 | by morrisonhimselfSee all my reviews

Oscar Micheaux is one of my motion picture heroes. I admire and respect him utterly for his drive and ambition, for his having produced motion pictures with black casts and crews and for black audiences when no one else was doing it.

But, bless his heart, the scripts were usually lacking, the actors were sometimes quite talented but not given dialog worth speaking, and too much of the technical aspects were ... just not there.

"Veiled Aristocrats" had so much potential: It was a serious and touchy topic with a brother and sister trying to "pass for white" to avoid racial discrimination -- a theme dealt with so much better in, for example, "Imitation of Life" (1959) and maybe worse in "I Passed for White" (1960).

When Turner Classic Movies presented "Veiled Aristocrats" Sunday, 24 July 2016, Professor Jacqueline Stewart was on hand with some explanatory material. I think she too admired and respected Micheaux, but she also said something I had never thought of: Micheaux and his films often suffered -- as did, of course, others -- at the hands of censors.

She said various locales had different standards and the bits that were cut out differed from place to place. And that varying censorship and resultant cutting were part of the reason prints of Micheaux movies and perhaps especially "Veiled Aristocrats" are now so choppy, with bits of scenes missing, and sometimes entire scenes.

"Veiled Aristocrats" suffers first, though, by often stilted dialog that even experienced and talented actors couldn't voice believably. These actors sometimes display good facial movement and emotions, but still stumble with the dialog.

"John" is played by Walter Fleming and apparently nothing else at all is known about him. He was a nice-looking man, even with that pencil-line mustache (somewhat popular in that time), and to me sounded an awful like Johnny Mack Brown, meaning maybe he came from Alabama or environs.

Since nothing else seems to be known about him, probably he didn't have much of an acting career, and I'm sorry we can't get more biographical information.

Many of the other performers probably could have had more success if segregation had not been the order of the day or if, conversely, all-black productions had had more financial support. That they didn't is our loss, black and white.

"Veiled Aristocrats" has a, to me, surprising amount of music, something I've never seen in another Micheaux film, and most of it seems just thrown in to stretch out the story. The music adds another level of scholarly interest, but not much else.

It's hard to recommend this film because the print is so terrible, the sound is so bad, and for the other difficulties I mentioned.

However, it is by Oscar Micheaux and therefore everyone ought to see it to know what work that pioneer created. At YouTube is a documentary that might tell you a lot: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-nNJfEDsXA


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