4 Or More Shots From 4 Or More Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking!
139 years ago today, Oscar Micheaux was born in Metropolis, Illinois. After working in several different jobs and writing a few novels, Micheaux would become the first African-American to produce and direct a feature length film and, later, a sound feature length film. He began his directorial career in 1919 and continued it throughout the sound era, often making films that were meant as a response to the films that were coming out of Hollywood. (For example, 1920’s Within Our Gates was meant to answer and condemn the racism of The Birth of a Nation.) At a time when blacks were usually only used for comedic relief and when it wasn’t uncommon for white actors to wear blackface on screen, Micheaux created an alternative film industry and, along the way, he gave early and rare starring roles to black actors like Paul Robeson.
Micheaux distributed the majority of his films himself and, unfortunately, the majority of them have been lost. The ones that survive were often hampered by their low budgets but they still provide a view into African-American life in the early days of the 20th Century. As well, Micheaux was one of the first successful “independent” filmmakers. Working without the support of the major studios, Micheaux still did what he had to do to share his vision with audiences.
It’s time for….
4 Shots From 4 Oscar Micheaux Films
Within Our Gates (1920, dir by Oscar Micheaux)
Body and Soul (1925, dir by Oscar Micheaux)
10 Minutes To Live (1932, dir by Oscar Micheaux, DP: Lester Lang)
Harlem After Midnight (1935, dir by Oscar Micheaux)