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Treasures of Black Cinema, Vol. 1
Treasures of Black Cinema Vol 1
Actors: Herb Jeffries, Artie Young, Rollie Hardin, Clarence Brooks, F.E. Miller
Directors: Arthur H. Leonard, Howard Bretherton, Leo C. Popkin, Richard C. Kahn
Genres: Drama, Documentary
UR     2006     4hr 0min

A quartet of films hosted by "Shaft" himself, Richard Roundtree! From the birth of cinema, Hollywood produced over 500 "race films" exclusively for all-black theaters with all-black casts. Comics, cowboys and gangsters all...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Herb Jeffries, Artie Young, Rollie Hardin, Clarence Brooks, F.E. Miller
Directors: Arthur H. Leonard, Howard Bretherton, Leo C. Popkin, Richard C. Kahn
Creators: Richard C. Kahn, Edmond Kelso, George Terwilliger, Lewis Sherman
Genres: Drama, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Drama, Documentary
Studio: Image Entertainment
Format: DVD - Black and White,Full Screen
DVD Release Date: 01/24/2006
Original Release Date: 01/01/1939
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1939
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 4hr 0min
Screens: Black and White,Full Screen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Viewers, be contextual!
Jeffery Mingo | Homewood, IL USA | 03/10/2008
(2 out of 5 stars)

"Richard Roundtree said that between 1900 and 1950, 500 "race films" were made for African-American audiences before "Brown v. Board of Ed." or the Montgomery bus boycott. Only a few of them survive and this DVD gives 4 examples. There are 2 films on each side and I really think they could have put all of them on one side.

Two clich'es fit these movies: "so bad, it's good" and "good for its time." There were fight scenes where you hear the sound of a punch, but you don't see it happening. You see men walk through a broken window, but you don't see it smashed probably because they couldn't pay for it or do it in one shot. Remember in "Multifacial," when a director told Vin Diesel's character, "You may be part Black, but your Blackness doesn't read on film."? Well, there are people here, due to the black-and-white filming, who look white, but aren't being that it's an all-Black cast. Some viewers may not be able to handle all the amateurish filming and plot.

Still, this was good for its time. This gave me an idea of what my late grandparents would have considered entertaining more than 50 years ago. I'm glad African Americans have these few films to remember for historical purposes. Since white Hollywood wanted to exclude Blacks or only show them in demeaning and peripheral roles, Black folk maybe movies for themselves and by themselves, skills be darned!

Though everyone else hates it, I love "Alien 3." You can tell that the alien was just computer-generated. However, CGI was in its infancy in the early 1990s. I'm willing to suspend my disbelief on one aspect in order to appreciate the totality of the film. Here too, these works are not high-quality, but they gave Black audiences generations ago a way to see themselves on the screen without being oppressed.

There are many critics, both anti-racist and racist, who have dogged rap. But the longstanding success of rap has significance. The way the genre speaks to suburban kids and ghetto kids means something crucial. These films similarly can be condemned, but they should be appreciated for what they did at the time.

Some may want to watch this alongside the documentary "Black Southern Cinema." Grandparents may want to watch it with their grandchildren. This may even be a good way for college courses on Black cinema to begin."