Release Date: 1921/1922
Black & White
Director: Richard E. Norman
Studio(s): Norman Film Manufacturing Company
Running Time: 50 mins.
Cast: Bill Pickett, Bennie Turpin, Anita Bush, Steve Reynolds
Details: The Bull-Dogger was a feature-length Western starring real-life African American cowboy Bill Pickett.
An excerpt from the Exhibitor’s Herald, states “A virile story of the golden west, featuring Bill Pickett, the Black hero of the Mexican bull ring, in death defying feats of courage and skill, such as wild horse racing, roping and tying wild steers. The picture also includes fancy and trick riding by Black cowboys and cowgirls and bull dogging and throwing with their teeth, the wildest steers on the Mexican border. This is the first feature picture of its kind, and proves conclusively that the Black cowboy is capable of doing anything the white cowboy does.” – excerpt from the Exhibitor’s Herald.
This film is considered lost, only fragments survive.
Notes: The film was produced by Norman Film Manufacturing Company, a Jacksonville, FL based company headed by Richard E. Norman, a white filmmaker who catered to black audiences. Shooting took place in and around Wellington, Okmulgee, Oklahoma City and Boley, Oklahoma, as noted in the February 27, 1922 Vicksburg Evening Post, which advertised screenings that day and the next at the Princess Theatre in Vicksburg, MS. An item in the same issue noted that Boley, OK, was an “all-colored city.”
An article in the February 1997 Texas Monthly stated that Bill Pickett was fifty years old at the time of production. Publicity for The Bull-Dogger quoted U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt on the film’s star: “Bill Pickett’s name will go down in Western history as being one of the best trained ropers and riders the West has produced.” Sources: daarac.org; tcm.com; American Film Institute catalog; Photo Sources: daarac.org; Wikipedia.