The Bronze Buckaroo (Richard C. Kahn, 1939). A Western with an all-black cast, with a stock storyline, occasional songs, and a running gag about ventriloquism – which, amazingly, plays a role in the resolution of the tense climax. Part of the “Pioneers of African-American Cinema” box set from Kino.
Dirty Gertie from Harlem U.S.A. (Spencer Williams, 1940). This black version of Rain mixes in a few other borrowings, as a notorious dancer goes to the Caribbean for an extended gig and rouses the wrath of an uptight preacher. It’s got its share of hotsy scenes, plus a couple of arty shots.
Within Our Gates (Oscar Micheaux, 1920). By turns raw and inspired, this film remains a remarkable addition to the American film canon. Two supporting characters, in particular – each playing a slightly different masquerade intended to make him accepted by white society – stand out for their originality and resistance to cliché.
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