Early Hollywood (04:29)
Hollywood films depicted black stereotypes; the black community created black production companies and black theaters in response. The 1920s was a golden age for black, independent filmmaking, but it came to a halt during the Great Depression; sound film saved studios.
Period of the Talkies (02:36)
Short musical sequences during the late 1920s highlighted a new image of blacks on the Hollywood screen. "Symphony in Black" served as a platform for Duke Ellington and Billie Holiday. A lack of work by black filmmakers occurred from 1929 through the early 1930s.
Black Owned Productions (04:13)
Theater ownership diminished by the early 1930s, affecting black show producers. Oscar Micheaux produced nearly half of all race movies from 1930 to 1935; Lorenzo Tucker became an adamant supporter. See clips of Micheaux films.
Micheaux Films (05:52)
In 1932, Micheaux produced "The Girl from Chicago" and "Veiled Aristocrats"; he was criticized for perpetuating the "high yellow" mystique. Lincoln Productions was one of Micheaux's several white competitors; some people criticized "The Black King" as a typical racist, black cast movie.
Independent Productions (03:24)
In 1933, producers created "The Emperor Jones" with a black actor as the lead and an interracial supporting cast. Paul Robeson starred in "Sanders of the River" in 1935.
Late 1930s Films (02:55)
"So Red the Rose" showed a new version of southern slaves. The independent black film industry began making films similar to those in Hollywood. White companies on the fringes of the business engaged in exploitation; gangster movies became popular and a series of black cowboy films began in 1936.
Popular Black Films (03:08)
Independent producers of race movies took advantage of musical shorts and comedies. Micheaux produced "Lying Lips" in 1939. World War II signaled a significant change in the motion picture industry and the decline of black movies.
Credits: From The Library of Black History: Black Hollywood (02:00)
Credits: From The Library of Black History: Black Hollywood
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