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Abandoned by her fiancé, an educated negro woman with a shocking past dedicates herself to helping a near bankrupt school for impoverished negro youths. Within Our Gates was produced and directed by Oscar Micheaux in 1919. He is considered to be the first African-American director of feature films and this is the first such film still in existence.

Cast (IMDB): Evelyn Preer as Sylvia Landry; Flo Clements as Alma Prichard; James D. Ruffin as Conrad Drebert; Jack Chenault as Larry Prichard; William Smith as Detective Philip Gentry; Charles D. Lucas as Dr. V. Vivian; Bernice Ladd as Mrs. Geraldine Stratton; Mrs. Evelyn as Mrs. Elena Warwick; William Stark as Jasper Landry; Mattie Edwards as Jasper’s Wife; Ralph Johnson as Philip Gridlestone; E.G. Tatum as Efram, Gridlestone’s Servant; Grant Edwards as Emil Landry; Grant Gorman as Armand Gridlestone; Leigh Whipper ; Jimmie Cook as (uncredited); S.T. Jacks as Reverend Wilson Jacobs (uncredited).

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Director:Oscar Micheaux

Writers:Oscar Micheaux (novel)
Oscar Micheaux (screenplay)

Paul Robeson … Reverend Isaiah T. Jenkins / His brother Sylvester
Mercedes Gilbert … Isabelle – the Girl 
Julia Theresa Russell … Martha Jane – Her Mother 
Lawrence Chenault … Yello-Curley’ Hinds – the Phony Reverends Former Jailmate 

A minister is malevolent and sinister behind his righteous facade. He consorts with, and later extorts from, the owner of a gambling house, and betrays an honest girl, eventually driving them both to ruin.


The board censors initially had strong objections to the dark and sinister portrayal of a man of the cloth. But with no money left for reshoots, producer Oscar Micheaux shot a quick ending which makes most of the film’s action a dream of the heroine’s.

Film debut of Paul Robeson.




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SWING (1938)

Mandy Jenkins, an African American cook for a wealthy white family in Birmingham, Alabama, discovers her husband Cornell is having an affair with Eloise Jackson. When she confronts her husband and Eloise at a nightclub, a violent fight ensues. Eloise leaves Birmingham and relocates to Harlem, getting a job as a cabaret vocalist under the stage name Cora Smith. She is followed to Harlem by her husband, Lem, who gets mixed up in the local crime scene. Mandy also arrives in New York, having left Cornell. She gets a job as the wardrobe mistress at the cabaret where Eloise is performing. When Eloise breaks her leg during a drunken fall, Mandy is recruited as a last-minute substitute. – Adapted from Wikipedia.

Cast (IMDB): Cora Green as Amanda ‘Mandy’ Jenkins; Larry Seymour as Cornell Jenkins; Hazel Diaz as Eloise Jackson / Cora Smith; Alec Lovejoy as Lem Jackson / Big Jones; Amanda Randolph as Liza Freeman (as Mandy Randolph); Trixie Smith as Lucy; Carman Newsome as Ted Gregory; Nat Reed as Ted, Gregory’s Assistant; Sammy Gardiner as Sammy, Gregory’s Assistant; Dorothy Van Engle as Lena Powell; Doli Armena as Miss Watkins, a Trumpet Player; Columbus Jackson as A Hustler; George R. Taylor as Mr. Becker, Theatrical Backer; Leon Gross ; Consuelo Harris (as Miss Harris); Leon Gross & His Orchestra ; The Tyler Twins.

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