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The Devil's Daughter (1939)

Approved | | Drama, Horror | 7 December 1939 (USA)
Sylvia Walton returns from Harlem to take over a Jamaican plantation from her vindictive half-sister, amid the growing sound of drums.

Director:

Arthur H. Leonard (as Arthur Leonard)

Writer:

George Terwilliger (story) (as George W. Terwilliger)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Nina Mae McKinney ... Isabelle Walton
Jack Carter Jack Carter ... Philip Ramsay
Ida James Ida James ... Sylvia Walton
Hamtree Harrington Hamtree Harrington ... Percy Jackson
Willa Mae Lang Willa Mae Lang ... Elvira
Emmett 'Babe' Wallace Emmett 'Babe' Wallace ... John Lowden (as Emmett Wallace)
Leon Lee Leon Lee ... Narrator (voice)
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Storyline

Sylvia Walton of Harlem inherits a Jamaican banana plantation and returns to manage it. Since her arrival, there's been no sign of her disinherited half-sister Isabelle, who ran the plantation until their father's death. But Sylvia, her two rival suitors, and her comic- relief servant Percy are disturbed by the constant, growing sound of drums. Meanwhile, in hiding, Isabelle schemes to regain her former place by manipulating local 'obeah' superstition. All-black cast. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Forbidden By Law For Years...But NOW You Can See It! The BLOOD DANCE-Sex-Ational Dance Of The Damned! FOR ADULT EYES ONLY! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Horror

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

7 December 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Daughter of the Isle of Jamaica See more »

Filming Locations:

Kingston, Jamaica

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (original)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Variray Blue Seal Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

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

Trivia

Like the other releases from Sack Amusement, this film featured an "all colored cast" and was booked into theaters that catered almost exclusively to black audiences. See more »

Goofs

When Isabelle Walton (Nina Mae McKinney) tells Percy Jackson (Hamtree Harrington) that she is transferring his soul to a pig, she refers to the pig as "he" - but she's holding the pig upside down and its nipples are clearly visible, showing that the pig is female. Correction: male hogs do have nipples. See more »

Connections

Remake of Ouanga (1936) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Yes, folks, the movie sucks....
1 March 2011 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

In the early days of cinema before movie theaters were integrated, black film patrons were eager for films about their community and with black actors. Sadly, however, the production companies making these films (such as Sack--which probably should have been called 'Suck') had minuscule budgets, very inexperienced actors and film makers and generally were quite substandard. While this was not always the case, most of these films I have seen are pretty bad--and considering what the film makers were up against you could certainly understand why. But what I cannot adequately understand is how some of these films ("The Devil's Daughter" is one of them at times) are amazingly racist when seen today--confirming some of white society's preconceptions at the time about the inferiority of blacks! In this particular film, the smart blacks who have good social standing are all lighter-skinned and the darker-skinned actors are often there for comic relief--much like the characters played by the likes of Steppin' Fetchit and Mantan Moreland. Plus the whole voodoo angle certainly is not a great image for black America! From a sociological and historical point of view, it IS very interesting. But it also makes this particular film age horribly...and rather sad.

A black lady from America inherits a family plantation in Jamaica and doesn't realize the dangers involved. There are voodoo practitioners and Haitians on the island who are in league with the devil! In many ways, this film is like the grandfather of later blaxsploitation films like "Sugar Hill" and "Blacula"--but with a much, much smaller budget. Can her incredibly light-skinned boyfriend save her or is she destined to join the side of evil? In the end, there is a surprise twist...not that anyone cares.

Is this a good film? Well, to put it bluntly, NOPE! The currently abysmal score on IMDb (placing it in the bottom 10 for all films from the 1930s) is well earned. Bad acting, scenes that should have been re-short but weren't (they probably could not afford additional film stock) and a dreary pace manage to sink this movie. For example, though the film is set in Haiti, not one person has a Jamaican or Creole (Haitian) accent. And, when the actors do talk, they often stumble over the words--and they sound like they are reading cue cards! Another sad example is the fist fight--it looked almost like it was done in slow motion--presumably because the actors were taking great care not to actually hurt each other! Plus too many scenes of people dancing, having cock fights (insert own tawdry joke) and the like really bog this film down to a crawl.

I'd say this film is even worse than many in the genre--including the somewhat unfairly maligned "Harlem on the Prairie" (the book "The 50 Worst Movies of All Time" considered the worst black production of this pre-integration era). Too much meaningless footage and dullness make this anything other than a curio--and you'd think voodoo and possession would at least be interesting! If you are curious about seeing it, it's on a DVD from Alpha Video (along with another terrible film "Chloe")--just be forewarned that the condition of the print, like many of Alpha's, is very, very poor.


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