4.9/10
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2 user

A Reckless Rover (1918)

Chased from his apartment by a policeman, ne'er do-well Rastus Jones finds refuge in a Chinese laundry, where he wreaks slapstick havoc and has a memorable encounter with an improperly-filled opium pipe.

Director:

C.N. David

Star:

Sam Robinson
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Cast

Credited cast:
Sam Robinson Sam Robinson ... Rastus Jones
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Storyline

Chased from his apartment by a policeman, ne'er do-well Rastus Jones finds refuge in a Chinese laundry, where he wreaks slapstick havoc and has a memorable encounter with an improperly-filled opium pipe.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

police | all black cast | See All (2) »

Genres:

Short | Comedy

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Details

Country:

USA

Release Date:

June 1918 (USA) See more »

Filming Locations:

Chicago, Illinois, USA

Company Credits

Production Co:

Ebony Film Company See more »
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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Silent

Aspect Ratio:

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

Connections

Featured in American Experience: Midnight Ramble (1994) See more »

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User Reviews

Play it again, Sam
23 May 2017 | by kekseksaSee all my reviews

Quite a late comedy from the Ebony Film Corporation, a white-owned Chicago based company (originally formed as The Historical Feature Film company in 1914 and which specialised in slapstick comedies with all-black casts. Ebony attracted strong criticism from the local black press (The Chicago Defender)and even found itself subject to a boycott that led to its going out of business in 1919. While it is understandable that many African Americans objected to any kind of racial stereotyping, it would perhaps have been more sensible to concede that this was difficult to avoid entirely in low comedy.

This was however a time when there was a growing split amongst African Americans themselves (broadly North/South and middle class/popular). The populists had lost their champion when Booker T. Washington died in 1915 and the far more severe intellectual tone of E. M. Du Bois or, in Chicago, of Ida Bell Wells-Barnett, was now dominant. And when populism found a new champion it was the controversial and divisive Jamaican polemicist Marcus Garvey.

In fact Ebony was by this time largely black-run (by President and General Manager, Luther J. Pollard) and made a serious effort to avoid the more typical stereotypes which filled white films and to which African Americans particularly objected (none "of that crap shooting, chicken stealing, razor display, water melon eating stuff that the colored people generally have been a little disgusted in seeing."). The point remains moot since Rastus in this film is displayed both a bone idle and light-fingered. But it is for all that an attractive performance by Sam Robinson, younger brother of the great Bojangles, and the most racist element of the film are in fact the intertitle pages with their *blackface" style cartoons.

It was however a positive thing that "race films" should cover the entire spectrum of film-making and that there should be films that were slapstick comedies as well as those that were "dramas". This also allowed Ebony to give work to a large number of talented black vaudeville artists, several of whom were already well known stage performers. The disappearance of Ebony in 1919 (and the highly serious Lincoln Motion Picture Company did not last much longer) was no real service either to African American performers or to African Ameican audiences.


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