The Sport Of The Gods

Release Date:  4/23/1921
Genre:  Drama
Rating:  NR
Director:  Henry J. Vernot
Studio(s):  Reol Productions Corp.
Running Time:  Unknown
Black & White

Cast:  Elizabeth Boyer (Kitty Hamilton), Edward R. Abrams (Jim Skaggs), George Edward Brown (Joe Hamilton), Leon Williams (Berry Hamilton), Lucille Browne (Fannie Hamilton), Lindsay J. Hall (Maurice Oakley), Jean Armour (Julia Oakley), Stanley Walpole (Francis Oakley), Walter Thomas (Thomas), Lawrence Chenault (Sadness), Ruby Mason (Mrs. Jones), Edna Morton (Hattie Sterling).

Story:  The story deals with a Black man who is unjustly sent to prison to save the reputation of his white employer’s son, a gambler.  His wife, son and daughter, move to New York rather to escape the scorn and gossip of their neighbors in Virginia. The son associates with evil companions and the daughter becomes a singer in an underworld cabaret where her character is placed in jeopardy. The mother, having been convinced that a prison sentence is the same as a divorce, is persuaded to marry a man who has schemed to get her money. The husband is finally released from jail after the real criminal confesses and he goes to New York to join his family, only to find his wife married. After numerous complications, all ends well.

Notes:  Based on the novel The Sport of the Gods by Paul Lawrence Dunbar.  Source(s):  TCM;

A Modern Cain

Year of Release:   1921
Genre:   Drama
Rating:  N/A
Studio:  J. W. Fife Productions
Director:   J. W. Fife
Black & White
Cast:   Norman Ward (William Moore), Ted Williams (Paul Moore), Fred J. Williams (Everett Moore), Vivian Carrols (Leonore Blackwell).
Synopsis:   William and Paul Moore are twin brothers who were orphaned at an early age and raised by their uncle.  When they grow up, William invests his inheritance in a business, but Paul squanders his share. They both fall in love with the same girl and Paul, who is jealous of William, pushes his brother off a cliff and reports him missing and presumed dead.  William survives the fall though he develops amnesia.  Fortunately, a doctor cures him, and William finds his way back home where he learns that Paul has died from drug addiction.  At last he is free to marry the girl he loves without further complication.
Source(s):   TCM; Within Our Gates: Ethnicity in American Feature Films, 1911-1960 by American Film Institute.

The Green-Eyed Monster

Release Date:  1919
Genre:  Action
Black & White
Studio(s):  Norman Film Manufacturing Company
Running Time: 50 mins.

Cast:  Jack Austin, Louise Dunbar, Steve Reynolds, Robert A. Stuart

Story:  “The plot deals with the eternal triangle, two men in love with one girl, but the undercurrents bring in the interesting factor of two rival railroads and their fight for supremacy. Before the Government assumed chaperonage over the arteries of travel and transportation and when two roads ran on different routes to the same specific point, there was a rivalry between them as to which should carry the Government Fast mail. In order to ascertain the fastest of these, a race is run – and it was by winning this race that the hero also won the hands of his sweetheart. $10,000 worth of railroad equipment was used and an $80,000 train wreck is part of the story.”

Notes:  The Norman Film Mfg. Co. was located in Jacksonville, FL. Publicity for this film stated, “There is not a white man in the cast, or is there depicted in the entire picture anything of the usual mimicry of the Negro. This photoplay has been indorsed [sic] by the most prominent colored people of America.” The publicity also stated that an $80,000 train wreck was filmed. A lobby card stated, “The characterizations in this spectacular production were enacted by colored people, chosen from many different walks of life. The Lawyer, Doctor, Banker and finished actor and actress portray this story which in a subtle way suggests the advancement of the colored race along educational and financial lines.”

Details:  Silent filmmaker Richard Norman first found success with local productions of a film called The Wrecker, featuring white casts living and working in the Midwestern and Southern towns he visited during the late 1910s. During this period, he lived and worked for a time in Chicago, home to a bustling community of African American artists, musicians and filmmakers – including one Oscar Micheaux, widely regarded as the father of black film.  Having befriended Micheaux (at least via letters) and intrigued by the niche market potential of “race films” starring black actors playing all roles – heroes and villains, alike – Norman set about a new genre of film. He took a chance on the localized successes of The Wrecker, retooled the script, hired an all-black cast and produced The Green Eyed Monster in 1919.

It was a bit of a risk that initially proved a failure. African American audiences responded favorably to the dramatic story of racial uplift and achievement expressed in the film, but were unimpressed with the new comedic elements. So, Norman headed back into the editing room, cutting the comedic elements and remixing them into their own slapstick romantic comedy called The Love Bug. In 1920, he re-released The Green Eyed Monster as a dramatic film and often screened The Love Bug as a pre-feature extra. The combination proved successful.

In fact, so successful was The Green Eyed Monster in distribution that George P. Johnson of the Lincoln Motion Picture Co., a contemporary of Norman Studios also producing race films, called it the “most sensational negro film made.”  “Sensational” certainly is an apt description. The Green Eyed Monster centers on a passionate love triangle and a cut-throat competition between two train companies to land a high-dollar mail contract. Scenes included a rescue from burning car, fist fights, a pistol duel, an abduction, a locomotive chase, and a violent train wreck reported to cost $80,000 to produce – a fortune in those days. The Green Eyed Monster also was the film debut for Steve “Peg” Reynolds, the longtime friend and “one-legged marvel” who would appear in all of Norman’s race films and accompany him to promote film premieres.

Unfortunately, no known clips of the film survive.  Source(s):;;

Drums O’ Voodoo

a/k/a Louisiana
a/k/a She Devil
a/k/a Voodoo Devil Drums
a/k/a Voodoo Drums


Year of Release:  1934
Genre:  Horror
Runtime:  70 mins.
Studio(s): Sack Amusement Enterprises
Director:  Arthur Hoerl


Laura Bowman (Aunt Hagar), Edna Barr (Myrtle Simpson), Lionel Monagas (Ebenezer), J. Augustus Smith (Amos Berry), Morris McKenny (Thomas Catt), A. B. Comathiere (Deacon Dunson), Alberta Perkins, (Sister Knight), Fred Bonny (Brother Zero), Paul Johnson (Deacon August), Trixie Smith (Sister Marguerite), Carrie Huff (Sister Zuzan)


Thomas Catt, the proprietor of a “jook,” a Southern cabaret-brothel, desires young, virginal Myrtle Simpson, the niece of preacher Amos Berry and fiancée of the grandson of Aunt Hagar, the local voodoo high priestess.

Although Catt threatens to expose Amos’ past to his congregation if he refuses to “give” Myrtle to him, Amos resists Catt’s attempts at blackmail, while Aunt Hagar activates some of her voodoo spells.

Later, during one of Amos’ spirited revival meetings, Catt bursts in and, after drawing his razor, announces that he has come to claim Myrtle. Defied by both Aunt Hagar’s grandson and Amos, Catt starts to reveal to the congregation that Amos had once murdered a man. In the middle of his exposé, however, Catt is struck by a bolt of lightning and is blinded, a fate that had been predicted by Aunt Hagar. Catt is then smothered in a pool of quicksand, and Myrtle and Amos are at last freed from their tormentor.



The New York State Censor Board records from 1934 indicate that the film was retitled The DevilDrums o’ Voodoo was re-released in 1940 under the title She Devil.  In 1981, the film was found in a warehouse by historian-producer Alex Gordon.

The screenplay was based on the stage play, Louisiana, by J. Augustus Smith.  Most of the all-black cast, including playwright J. Augustus Smith, also appeared in the stage play, which was produced on Broadway by the Negro Theatre Guild.  The play was one act long and was only performed eight times, partly because of the criticism of Brooks Atkinson of New York Times.

Modern sources list the title as Voodoo Devil Drums and Voodoo Drums.  Additional cast members from modern sources include James Davis (Brother Zumee), Ruth Morrison (Sister Gaghan), Harriet Daughtry (Sister Lauter), Bennie Small (Bou Bouche), Pedro Lopez (Marcon), Jennie Day, Gladys Booker, Herminie Sullivan, Lillian Exum, Edith Woodby, Mabel Grant, Marion Hughes, Madeline Smith, Theresa Harris, Dorothy St. Claire, Eleanor Hines, Pauline Freeman, Annabelle Smith, Jacquiline Ghant, Annabelle Ross and Harriett Scott (Members of the Flat Rock Washfoot Baptist Church), Cherokee Thornton, Arthur McLean, DeWitt Davis, Rudoph Walker, Marvin Everhart, Jimmie Cook, Irene Bagley, Sally Timmons, Beatrice James and Marie Remsen (Voodoo Dancers).  Source(s):  TCM, DAARAC,org, Movieposters.


Chloe, Love Is Calling You

a/k/a Chloe


Release Date:  4/1/1934
Runtime:  62 mins/54 mins (DVD)
Black & White
Studio:  Pinnacle Productions
Director:  Marshall Neilan



Georgette Harvey (Old Mandy), Olive Borden (Chloe/Betty Ann Gordon), Reed Howes (Wade Carson), Philip Ober (Jim Strong), Francis Joyner (Colonel Gordon), Augustus Smith (Mose), Molly O’Day (Joyce, the Colonel’s niece)


Mandy, a voodoo practicing nursemaid, returns to the swamps of the Everglades with her half-white daughter Chloe and helper, Jim Strong, to exact revenge on Colonel Gordon, the man she believes is responsible for the lynching of her husband Sam fifteen years earlier. The widowed colonel, whose daughter Betty Ann drowned in the swamps around the same time that Sam was killed, lives with his niece Joyce and oversees the family turpentine factory.  As Chloe, Mandy and Jim near the colonel’s home, Chloe expresses doubts about her Black heritage and rejects the proposal of the devoted Jim.

Wade Carson, the new “Yankee” foreman of the turpentine factory, meanwhile, impresses the colonel when he discovers shortages at the factory and establishes that Mose, one of the employees, has been stealing from the company. After Wade fires Mose, Mose swears revenge and then tries to force his attentions on Chloe. Wade comes to Chloe’s rescue, however, further aggravating Mose and Mose prepares to shoot Wade but is stopped by Joe, who is then crushed to see Wade walk Chloe home.

Later, while Mandy and Mose join forces and plan their voodoo revenge, Chloe and Jim argue about Chloe’s attraction to the “white northerner.”  Then, on the anniversary of Betty Ann’s disappearance, Mandy leaves voodoo switches on the colonel’s doorstep and initiates a drum-beating ceremony. During the ceremony, Mandy, who is also concerned about Chloe’s interest in Wade, drugs her tea and orders Jim to take advantage of her subsequent stupor to assure their marriage.  Jim refuses to seduce Chloe, but after seeing Wade kiss Chloe, he confronts Wade and tells him that she is half-Black and therefore “off-limits.”  Although Wade is reluctant to believe Jim about Chloe, he takes seriously his warning that Mandy and Mose are plotting against him and the colonel.

The Colonel and Wade then break into Mandy’s cabin and there discover clothes that Betty Ann was wearing the day she drowned. When Chloe identifies the clothes as ones she wore as a child, the colonel becomes convinced she is his daughter. Mandy, however, denies that she kidnapped Chloe to replace her own dead child, and the colonel’s niece, Joyce, who is attracted to Wade, also expresses doubts about Chloe’s white parentage.

At a party in her honor, a confused and distraught Chloe flees into the swamps, while the colonel and Wade, determined to prove their hunch, send the local doctor to dig up a grave that the colonel believes contains Mandy’s black baby. Meanwhile Mose ambushes Chloe in the swamp and brings her to Mandy’s voodoo ceremony, where they plan to sacrifice her.


Wade and the colonel, however, arrive in time to save Chloe, after which the doctor confirms that the baby buried at Mandy’s house is black. At last assured of her “whiteness,” Chloe is free to pursue her romance with Wade.



Ohio banned the movie as “harmful.”  White actress Olive Borden plays Chloe, who is trying to avenge her Black father’s lynching but along the way falls in love with a White man who works for Col. Gordon, the rich factory owner who orchestrated the killing.  Later she discovers that Gordon is her biological father and that she is white.  The lynching, though not shown in the film, may have factored into Chloe’s censorship.  But the narrative twists trick audiences into believing she is black and then insists (on a string of unstable evidence – most notably, the dress she wore as a child) that she is white and can marry a white man.  Chloe was unlike Imitation of Life in that it admitted interracial desire and sex:  it accepted (perhaps because of its New Orleans setting) the premise of a half-caste “creole” Negro and allowed both Black and White suitors to pursue Chloe.

Source(s):  TCM;; Cinema Civil Rights: Regulation, Repression, and Race in the Classical Hollywood Era.


Four Shall Die

a/k/a Condemned Men

Release Date:  10/15/1940
Genre:  Crime
Studio:  Million Dollar Productions
Directors:  William Beaudine, Leo C. Popkin

Niel Webster (Pierre Touissant), Mantan Moreland (Beefus – Touissant’s Chauffeur), Laurence Criner (Roger Fielding), Dorothy Dandridge (Helen Fielding), Vernon McCalla (Dr. Webb), Monte Hawley (Dr. Hugh Leonard), Reginald Fenderson (Hickson), Jack Carr (Lew Covey), Jess Lee Brooks (Bill Summers).

Helen Fielding, heir to the fortune of the late millionaire Roger Fielding, Sr., has broken off her relationship with the unscrupulous Lew Covey to pursue a romance with reporter Bill Summers. Covey, determined to get at Helen’s inheritance, vows to win her back. When Hickson, a friend of Helen’s, tells Dr. Hugh Leonard and Covey about a visitation he had from his dead mother’s spirit, Covey expresses disbelief and bets Hickson that he can’t prove the visitation took place so Hickson takes the men to Dr. Ronald Webb’s spiritualistic parlor.  There the voice of “Momba,” an angry spirit, warns Covey that he will die later that night. The spirit also portends the deaths of Hickson and Leonard, telling them that they will die one day apart from each other following Covey’s death.  The spirit of Helen’s dead father, Roger Fielding, Sr., also visits and warns that his son Roger Fielding, Jr., will be the next to die.

Later that night, Helen discovers Covey’s dead body in her room.  They agree not to tell the police about the death, and instead call on the famous detective Pierre Touissant and his assistant, Beefus, to help solve the case. The following night, Hickson is shot to death by a man named Jefferson after a violent quarrel.   Hoping to escape from his predicted fate, Roger takes the advice of Webb and plans to set sail for Argentina, but Touissant and Beefus prevent him from leaving.

Eventually Touissant exposes Webb who had planned all along to frighten everyone with fake apparitions and phony murders in order to get the inheritance. Covey and Hickson, who are very much alive, arrive with the police, proving Touissant’s explanation was true.


The plot summary was taken from a synopsis contained in the file for the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library.  According to a Hollywood Reporter news item, “Pierre Touissant” was the name of the “grandson of Toussaint L’Overture, Haitian general who defied Napoleon.”

This film is presumed lost.

Source(s):  Matinee Classics; TCM;; Wikipedia.