The Emperor Jones (film #10 in the Black Culture section of Movieflix (www.movieflix.com)) [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]

This film is not totally an all-black cast film, but whites play only a few minor parts in it. This is a major studio production starring Paul Robeson as an arrogant, conniving Pullman Porter who ends up on a chain gang for killing a man, escapes, and winds up on a Caribbean island where he manipulates the natives into making him emperor. It was based on a stage play by Eugene O’Neill and so the production is rather stagey at times. But Robeson is fun to watch, both as an actor and as a singer. His final tour-de-force, when he runs through the jungle after the natives have turned against him and slowly goes insane, is a great piece of acting, though it does go on a bit too long. Like most “race films” of this period, there is a confusing mix of genuine African-American culture and offensive stereotypes. Still, this is a unique film that is worth watching.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.

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