Murder in Harlem (film #23 in the Black Culture section of Movieflix). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]

This very primitive 1935 movie for African-American audiences features a black lawyer and novelist who helps out a young woman whose brother was charged with killing a white secretary in the chemical plant where he works as a nightwatchman. The script has some interesting ideas, and deals with issues such as sexual harassment in the workplace, racist treatment of African-Americans by police and the courts, and domestic violence, that were usually swept under the rug back in the 30s. But the story is turgidly told and the acting is uniformly awful. It also has that stagey feel of early talkies, though it was made in 1935. It’s too bad, really––this could have been a really great film if it had been more competently done. It does deserve some commendation for inserting some actual plot development into the obligatory nightclub scene.

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

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