Monday, January 17, 2011

On Race and Religion, 1941: On my mind this MLK Day in 2011

Spencer Williams, Jr. was the only black director who received frequent commissions from white moguls to make films during the race movie era. Williams was a big, boisterous actor-singer best known for playing Andy Brown in the early-50s TV series Amos 'n' Andy. In early-talkies Hollywood he had worked as an actor, a sound technician and a screenwriter on low-budget or indie films. In 1940 he was hired by Dallas exhibitor Al Sack to write and direct films, apparently with a minimum of front-office interference. He made nine or ten of them: oddball melodramas (Girl in Room 20), low-octane jive musicals (Dirty Gertie from Harlem U.S.A., Juke Joint) and a trio of religious epics: The Blood of Jesus, Go Down, Death and Of One Blood.
... 1941's The Blood of Jesus, has a naive grandeur to match its subject. A morality play about an angel and a devil fighting for a woman's soul, it begins with a baptism and ends in bloody death near a cross — all scored to rousing gospel music. Told in a spare style with no hokum, the movie has the feeling of an honest, unmediated religious experience. For decades, this and other Williams films were thought lost, but in the mid-80s prints were discovered in a Tyler, Texas warehouse. And so 50 years after its making, Jesus was selected for inclusion in the Library of Congress' National Registry of Films.

Read more:,28804,1709148_1709143_1709645,00.html #ixzz1BM9V2py4

Rocky gifted me with a video of this important American film which we viewed before devotions last Thursday. Here are a few images taken while it was bein shown on our TV, complete with commentary by the "audience," to convey it's flavor. -gw

Posted via email from Baha'i Views

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