6.5/10
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12 user 8 critic

Song of Freedom (1936)

A black British dockworker named Johnny Zinga becomes a famous singer and learns that he is the rightful king of the African island of Casanga.

Director:

J. Elder Wills

Writers:

Claude Wallace (story "The Kingdom of Zinga"), Dorothy Holloway (story "The Kingdom of Zinga") | 3 more credits »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Paul Robeson ... John 'Johnny' Zinga
Elisabeth Welch Elisabeth Welch ... Ruth Zinga (as Elizabeth Welch)
Esme Percy ... Gabriel Donozetti
Robert Adams Robert Adams ... Monty
James Solomon James Solomon ... Native Leader
Tony Wane Tony Wane ... Mandingo (as Ecce Homo Toto)
Ronald Simpson Ronald Simpson ... Mr. Blane, the Pianist
George Mozart George Mozart ... Bert Puddick
Jenny Dean Jenny Dean ... Marian
Joan Fred Emney ... Nell Puddick
Bernard Ansell Bernard Ansell ... Sir James Pyrie (as Bernerd Ansell)
Johnnie Schofield Johnnie Schofield
Ambrose Manning Ambrose Manning ... Trader
Arthur Elliott Arthur Elliott ... (as Hon. Arthur Eliot)
Cornelia Smith Cornelia Smith ... Queen Zinga (as Miss C. Smith)
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Storyline

A black British dockworker named Johnny Zinga becomes a famous singer and learns that he is the rightful king of the African island of Casanga.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Robeson In His Most Memorable Role!-Cast of Thousands In $500,000 Epic!

Genres:

Drama | Music

Certificate:

See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English | Italian

Release Date:

17 March 1947 (Denmark) See more »

Also Known As:

A Canção da Liberdade See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Hammer Films See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Photophone System)

Aspect Ratio:

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

Trivia

Although this was the third film made by Hammer Film Productions, it is the earliest to survive in its entirety as no copies of The Public Life of Henry the Ninth (1935) are known to exist and 18 minutes of Phantom Ship (1935) are missing. See more »

Connections

Featured in That's Black Entertainment (1990) See more »

Soundtracks

Song of Freedom
Music by Eric Ansell
Lyrics by Henrik Ege
Sung a cappella by Paul Robeson at the opera
Reprised by Paul Robeson on the island
See more »

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User Reviews

 
It Seems To Me I've Heard That Song Before
13 November 2011 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

If you can possibly see The Song Of Freedom by all means do so. It's a chance to see Paul Robeson sing and give a fine acting performance in a story set partially in Africa. It's a mini-version of the famous American mini-series Roots. Paul in fact carries his roots with him both in a song that's been with him since birth and a medallion handed down to him from an ancestor who was sold into slavery and who was king of his people. That's all dealt with in a short prologue.

Fast forward to 1936 and Robeson is working on the London docks and also provides a bit of entertainment for his fellow stevedores. Impresario Esme Percy discovers him and turns Robeson into a concert/opera singer. But one night a backstage visitor tells Robeson that this melody which he has engraved in his soul is the chief's song from a particular tribe in Africa. Robeson and wife Elisabeth Welch go to that part of Africa where he attempts to reassert his royal prerogatives.

As a colonizing power in Africa, the British picked up knowledge about the place that Americans only gleaned from Edgar Rice Burroughs and other such pulp fiction authors. And in these years prior to World War II did film a lot of stories on location there such as The Four Feathers in the Sudan. Song Of Freedom was shot on location in Sierra Leone for the African part of the story. It's light years more real than anything you would get from Hollywood.

Incidentally the gambit of the 'lost song' may very well have been lifted from the Victor Herbert operetta Naughty Marietta. No matter, it's well done and provides Robeson with a number.

Elisabeth Welch who was a fine singer in her own right gets to do Sleepy Rivers. I wish she had been given more to do.

Seeing both Paul Robeson and a glimpse of the real Africa is a chance no one should pass up.


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