Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Paul Robeson, Dudley Digges, Frank H. Wilson, Fredi Washington, Ruby Elzy
Director: Dudley Murphy
Genres: Classics, Drama
Studio: Image Entertainment Release Date: 11/25/2003 Run time: 80 minutes Rating: Nr
An Interesting Failure
Gary F. Taylor | Biloxi, MS USA | 04/10/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Playwright Eugene O'Neill's early work often combined memorable characters and stories with social commentary and innovative theatrical concepts--and among his first great successes was THE EMPEROR JONES, which starred perhaps the single finest black actor of the 1920s and 1930s, the legendary Paul Robeson. When United Artists purchased the screen rights, Robeson went with the package, and this 1933 film was the result.The story concerns a black man of the depression era who lacks the moral stamina to resist the various temptations set before him, and who ultimately finds himself on a remote island where he uses his superior intellect and physically intimidating presence to set himself up as "Emperor." But his own past troubles have hardened him. Instead of ruling in justice, he uses his position to bleed the population--and they revolt against him.But regretfully, this film isn't half as good as it could have been or a quarter as good as it should have been. On the stage, THE EMPEROR JONES had tremendous irony, for in so crushing his subjects Brutus Jones has essentially recreated the white American society that crushed him. Moreover, the staging was uniquely powerful, with the vast majority of the story played out as Jones runs through the jungle in an effort to escape his revolting subjects, all the while recalling the various events of his life that led him to the present moment. But the film version pretty much throws all of this out the window, preferring to downplay O'Neill's social commentary and reducing Jone's race through the jungle to a few scenes at the film's conclusion.Robeson is a memorable actor, but he was still very new to the screen when this film was made, and although he is powerful his performance here is rather stagey in comparison with his later screen work. And while the film is occasionally interesting in a visual way, it simply doesn't have the courage to go all the way with O'Neil's origial vision. Fans of Robeson, O'Neil, and early 1930s film will find it an interesting failure, but most others should give it a miss.GFT, Amazon.com Reviewer"
Dated but Powerful
Bruce Kendall | Southern Pines, NC | 07/18/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Unfortunately, we are left with a relative paucity of Robeson's powerful talent. This early film will give you some indication of the majesty he must have conveyed live. No other figure in the first half of the 20th century conveyed the collective black consciousness as did Robeson. We have a few markers left us, amongst them the recordings and these few celluloid records. If you want to see one of the giants of the 20th century on film, buy this edition. It also represents a cinemataographic record of one of O'Neill's most famous, but least successful plays. True, the plot has its tensions and the play had its merits, but, in comparison to his monumental "Morning Becomes Electra" and "Desire Under the Elms," this play is decidedly secondary, in league with "The Hairy Ape.""
The Emperor Jones a Lost Treasure
A. W. Bellais | Savannah, GA USA | 05/24/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The film creaks with age. It's a low-budget project that probably had a small audience in its day, but here is a treasure. Letting the sound track and the fuzzy images get in your way will only rob the viewer of a great theatrical experience. And, to witness Paul Robson sing and perform at the height of his career only enriches the experience. Too bad a serious restoration of this film has not been undertaken."
Fascinating movie with really creepy ending . . .
Brenna E. Lorenz | State College, PA United States | 12/12/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie is dark, eerie and fascinating, as it outlines the fall of an innocent Southern rural man, Brutus Jones, played brilliantly by Paul Robeson. Jones accidentally kills a man during a craps game and ends up fleeing brutal imprisonment to end up as a desperate castaway on a Carribean island. Through daring and cunning, he ends up as the cruel emperor of the island. The final scenes of this movie are still enough to send chills up the spine of a modern viewer. In addition to Paul Robeson and Fredi Washington, you get to see (or, more accurately, hear) Coot Grant and Kid Wesley Wilson performing "Toot It, Brother Armstrong" during the murder scene. Coot and Kid were a husband and wife vaudeville team during the early part of the 20th century. We also get a glimpse of an uncredited actor who is probably none other than Frankie "Halfpint" Jaxon, another vaudeville performer from this era. He is the little guy who plays the role of the treasurer on the island. We highly recommend this movie, but don't watch it right before going to bed -- it may give you nightmares!"