5.7/10
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8 user 3 critic

The Symbol of the Unconquered (1920)

Racists learn that the land a negro owns lies over a vast oil field, and threaten his life when he refuses to sell.

Director:

Oscar Micheaux

Writer:

Oscar Micheaux
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Iris Hall Iris Hall ... Eve Mason
Walker Thompson Walker Thompson ... Hugh Van Allen
Lawrence Chenault Lawrence Chenault ... Jefferson Driscoll
Mattie Wilkes Mattie Wilkes ... Mother Driscoll
Louis Dean Louis Dean ... August Barr (as Louis Déan)
Leigh Whipper Leigh Whipper ... Tugi - an Indian Fakir
Jim Burris Jim Burris
E.G. Tatum E.G. Tatum ... Abraham
James Burrough James Burrough
George Catlin George Catlin ... Dick Mason
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Storyline

Eve Mason, a very light-skinned negro, leaves Selma, Alabama for the northwest town of Oristown to occupy the land she inherited from her grandfather. There she meets kindly Hugh Van Allen, who turns out to be her neighbor, and he gives her a lift to her place outside of town. Jefferson Driscoll is another very light-skinned negro who wants to be taken as white, and he hates the negro race because his mother once interfered with his wooing a white girl. Driscoll gets in league with unsavory August Barr, an Indian fakir called Tugi, and horse thieves Bill Stanton and Philip Clark. When Driscoll intercepts a letter for Van Allen showing his land is on an oil field, the group posts notes on Van Allen's tent, threatening his life if he won't sell his land. Van Allen ignores the the notes, which are signed "The Knights of the Black Cross," leaves for town to buy furniture and won't be back for 48 hours. In his absence, the last note is posted, giving him 48 hours to sell. The group, led by... Written by Arthur Hausner <genart@volcano.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A story of the Negro (without the "Uncle Tom stuff") with a Northwestern setting See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

TV-PG
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Details

Country:

USA

Release Date:

29 November 1920 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Symbol of the Unconquered: A Story of the Ku Klux Klan See more »

Filming Locations:

Fort Lee, New Jersey, USA

Company Credits

Production Co:

Micheaux Film See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(TCM print)

Sound Mix:

Silent

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The only surviving print of this film is in the collection of the Cinematheque Royale in Belgium. Its title cards are in French and Flemish. They have been translated back, from French, into English. See more »

Quotes

Hugh Van Allen: What! You! Of the black race!
See more »

Connections

Featured in The Color Line (2016) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A major disappointment because of missing footage and a peculiar modern percussion score.
11 March 1999 | by Art-22See all my reviews

I watched this on Turner Classic Movies, which helped finance the restoration of the film from the only surviving print, located in Belgium. It was introduced by Ruby Dee, who mentioned it was advertised to negroes with statements like "come see the annihilation of the Ku Klux Klan," which was pretty bold in 1920. It sounded good to me, but the film warns you that missing footage will be summarized by title cards. And wouldn't you know it, the supposed annihilation was part of the missing footage! What a letdown! And the ultra modern percussion music score by Max Roach, consisting of drums, a symbol and sticks just seemed out of place for this film, and I found it very obtrusive. Even though the filming techniques were primitive, it had some interesting elements, touching on a light-skinned negro who hates the negro race, and a white woman who helps the negroes. Micheaux never made the bad guys all white or the good guys all black, like some exploitation films in the 60's and 70's. The narrative was sometimes confusing, but that may have been because of the title translation or some missing footage. Still, I was disappointed, especially after I enjoyed Micheaux's film "Within Our Gates" so much.


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