A cowboy is wrongfully accused of murder. He winds up in Harlem, where he assumes the identity of a preacher-turned-gangster who looks like him. He infiltrates the gang to catch the men who...
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A cowboy is wrongfully accused of murder. He winds up in Harlem, where he assumes the identity of a preacher-turned-gangster who looks like him. He infiltrates the gang to catch the men who framed him.Written by
This is a fascinating film--especially to old movie buffs and historians (I am both). During the first half of the twentieth century, sadly, Black Americans were usually not allowed into White theaters. As a result, theaters catering to Black audiences wanted to show films reflecting the Black experience and showing Black actors. In many cases, the films were essentially similar plot-wise to standard Hollywood fare, but with a much, much lower budget--and usually horrid production values. You really can't fault the film makers--they just didn't have the money and resources available to the average film company. As a result, they had to make due with a lot less--including an over-reliance on stock actors that were seen again and again, no money for re-shooting scenes and a need to get the films done FAST! This film tried very hard to be a Black version of a Gene Autry film--starring Herb Jeffries instead. Jeffries was a light-skinned man from mixed ancestry and he starred in several similar cowboy films. In each, he sings a little, fights a little (though VERY poorly) and loves a little--everything you need in a cowboy. Believe it or not, Jeffries is STILL alive at age 96.
The general plot was indiscernible from an Autry picture--complete with anachronistic items such as telephones out West! The problem is that despite its similarities, the low budget shines through. Stymie (from the Li'l Rascals) flubbed a few lines but they just left it in, the fight scenes were totally unchoreographed and were among the worst ever put on film, there were some odd plot holes, there was no background music (leaving the film strangely quiet) and the acting was pretty awful.
Now this does NOT mean that the film isn't worth seeing--only that it abouts with technical problems that prevent it from being scored higher. One reviewer, oddly, scored this film a 10! How this can be with all the problems is beyond me. However, I can understand a person liking the film despite its many problems. The plot is generally pretty good, the characters likable, the musical numbers excellent and you know that the people making the film tried so darn hard AND it's a very important piece of American history. But a 10!?
By the way, in an odd bit of casting, the very tall, lean and almost white-skinned Jefferies is paired with short, dumpy and exceptionally dark Mantan Moreland....as his brother!! Also, Spencer Williams may be familiar to you. He played Andy on TV's "Amos 'n Andy".
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