Segments in this Video

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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From The Library of Black History: Black Hollywood

3-Year Streaming Price: $49.95



Between 1910 and 1950, over 150 independent film companies were organized for the specific purpose of producing all-black cast films. Of the 400 black-produced films that were made, Oscar Micheaux produced 10 percent of them. This program from Tony Brown's Journal examines them.

Length: 29 minutes

Item#: BVL167289

Copyright date: ©1989

Closed Captioned

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