The Bull Dogger

Release Date:  1921/1922
Black & White
Genre:  Western
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:;; American Film Institute catalog; Photo Sources:; Wikipedia.

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The Green Pastures

Release Date:  8/1/1936
Black & White
Genre:  Drama/Inspirational
Director(S):  Marc Connelly, William Keighley
Studio(s):   Warner Bros.
Running Time:  93 mins.

Cast:  Rex Ingram, Oscar Polk, Eddie ‘Rochester’ Anderson, Frank H. Wilson, George Reed, Abraham Gleaves , Edna Mae Harris, James Fuller.

Details:   The Green Pastures depicts stories from the Bible as visualized by black characters.  The story, set in a small black church in the deep South, relates incidents from the Bible — seen in a series of vignettes — as a preacher teaches his Sunday school class.  Based on Roark Bradford’s 1928 novel, “Ol’ Man Adam an’ His Chillun'” and the 1930 play of the same name by Marc Connelly.

Synopsis One fine Sunday in the Louisiana delta, a black preacher, Mr. Deshee, tells Bible stories to his Sunday school class. In order to help the children, visualize God and heaven, he describes them in terms of a Southern fish fry:  De Lawd looks exactly like their preacher, and except for their wings, the angels look exactly like members of the congregation. De Lawd creates too much firmament one day, so he creates the sun and earth to drain it away. After realizing what good farmland he has made, De Lawd creates Adam and Eve to live on it. Sadly, De Lawd is disappointed by Adam and Eve’s descendants. After punishing Cain for Abel’s murder, De Lawd leaves the Earth alone for a while, but the next time he returns, he again finds a wicked world. Because he believes that a small-town preacher, named Noah is an exception, De Lawd orders him to build an ark and then sends the rains down to destroy the rest of humanity.

Soon, however, things have gotten bad again and De Lawd decides that man does not have enough to do, so he gives Abraham’s descendants the land of Canaan and sends Moses to lead them out of Egypt. Moses and Aaron secure the release of the Hebrew slaves only after confounding the Egyptian pharaoh with their magic tricks and killing his son. The Israelites reach the promised land, but De Lawd gets so disgusted with his children that he renounces them. Not even a delegation of angels can convince him to take them back. Yet a soft voice from Earth reaches De Lawd, and he realizes that mercy can be earned through suffering. De Lawd then wonders if this means that even God must suffer, and his question is answered by the life of Jesus Christ. Sunday school is over, and the children file out into the countryside that looks so much like heaven.

Notes:  The Green Pastures was one of only six feature films in the Hollywood Studio era to feature an all-black cast, though elements of it were criticized by civil rights activists.  A review of the film in The Spectator gave the film a generally good review but stated that one may feel uneasy at the film’s “humor” and the depiction of “the negro mind”.  The review went on to say that the result is occasionally patronizing, too often quaint, and at the close of the film definitely false.  Despite criticisms about its racial stereotyping, The Green Pastures proved to be an enormously popular film. It remained the highest-grossing all-black-cast film until the release of Carmen Jones in 1954.  Source(s):  youtube;; Wikipedia.  Photo Sources:; IMDB.

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Release Date:  7/24/1922
Genre:   Drama
Director:  Unknown
Studio(s):   Reol Productions Corp.
Running Time:  Unknown
Cast:   Edna Morton, Lawrence Chenault, George Edward Brown, Daisy Martin, Mabel Young, Sam Cook, Edward Williams.

Synopsis:  Guy Rogers, the son of a well-known publisher, sets out to prove his father’s racist critics wrong by putting Booker T. Washington’s philosophy into practice. He goes to a little Maryland Hills town where through his efforts a school and a library are built. He falls in love with Ruth Hill, whose recently widowed father, an ex-schoolteacher, is killed after being involved in horse thievery. “Buck” Bradley, the local dealer in hay and feed, who put Ruth’s father up to the crime, has been made her guardian, and he beats up Guy when he tries to defend her. She nurses Guy back to health, love blooms, and they marry.

Alternative Synopsis:  A young colored novelist has written a novel dealing with colored folks, but is told by his by publisher that it lacks the aura of reality because he has not lived among the lowly folk about whom he attempts to write. In search of such experience, he goes to a little Maryland settlement and there meets the daughter of a farmer who, by reason of her quick temper, has been nicknamed “Spitfire.” Her father is in the clutches of a gang of horse thieves headed by Bradley, and it is the rounding up of the gang and the love that springs up between the young novelist and the country lass that provide the theme.  Source(s):  TCM; DAARAC; IMDB.

The Schemers

Release Date:  8/19/1922
Genre:  Drama
Director:  Unknown
Studio(s):  Reol Production Corp.
Running Time:  Unknown
Black & White

Cast:  Edna Morton, G. Edward Brown, Lawrence Chenault, Walter Thomas, Bob Slater, Orma Crosby.

Synopsis:   Paul Jackson, a black research chemist with a drug company, is close to success in his attempt to develop a chemical substitute for gasoline. Juan Bronson, who is the private secretary of John Davidson, the president of the company, conspires with Miguel Anderson to steal Paul’s formula. Believing Paul to be carrying the formula, Bronson and Anderson kidnap him, but the papers are not on his person. Paul manages to call Isobel Benton, his sweetheart, and instructs her to go to his laboratory for the papers. Anderson overhears the conversation and also goes there, but Isobel outwits him and gets away with the formula. Anderson then frames Paul for the theft of some other important formulas, and Paul gives his formula back to Isobel for safekeeping. Anderson abducts Isobel, and Paul rescues her with the help of Davidson and a detective. Isobel proves Paul’s innocence, and the detective tells Davidson that Bronson and Anderson are notorious criminals, wanted by a South American government.

Source(s):  TCM; DAARAC; IMDB.

Easy Money

Release Date:  3/29/1922
Genre:  Drama
Rating:  NR
Director:  Unknown
Studio(s):  Reol Productions Corp.
Black & White

Cast:  Sherman H. Dudley (Andy Simpson), Edna Morton (Margie Watkins), H. L. Pryor,  Inez Clough,  Alex K. Shannon, Percy Verwayen.

Synopsis:  Andy Simpson, constable, blacksmith and all-round mechanic of Millbrook, a thrifty little southern town, is looked upon as slow, plodding, and lacking in ambition by all save Margie Watkins, his sweetheart and daughter of the bank president. Margie, however, becomes attracted to J. Overton Tighe (a partner of James Bradford, notorious promoter of “wildcat” investments), who is newly arrived in town in an expensive car. Despite Andy’s warnings, the townspeople eagerly buy shares in a phony stock promoted by Tighe. Mrs. Watkins even persuades her husband to invest some of the bank’s funds in the enterprise. Even after he finds conclusive evidence, Andy hesitates to arrest Tighe, for an arrest would mean the ruin of Margie’s father. Margie, apparently disregarding Andy’s advice, continues her affair with Tighe, and they become engaged. Tighe finds oil on Andy’s land and buys it for a song. Andy finally exposes Tighe’s real business in Millbrook (which is more serious than swindling), arrests Tighe, and in the end turns the tables on the shrewd promoter and himself gets the easy money.

Alternate Synopsis:  He was poor. A rich man was courting his girl. He discovered the fake stock scheme of his rival. He exposes the plot and became the man of the hour. Then he turned the tables on the rich man and won back his sweetheart. See the exciting raid on the stock gambler’s house. See the sensational leap from a tree to a speeding automobile. See the thrilling rescue of the banker’s daughter from death. See the triumph of a small-town constable in the whirlwind climax of ‘Easy Money’.  Source(s):  TCM; DAARAC.

The Secret Sorrow


Release Date:   10/1/1921
Genre:  Drama
Rating:  N/A
Studio:  Reol Productions Corp.
Writer:  S. C. Brown
Black & White


George Edward Brown, Percy Verwayen, Edna Morton, Lawrence Chenault, Inez Clough, Ida Anderson


Anne Morgan, a poverty-stricken woman decides to give up one of her two sons to a prominent doctor willing to adopt him. The doctor names the child Arthur and sends him to law school, after which he becomes the assistant district attorney of New York.  Meanwhile, the other brother, Joe, raised by his mother, grows up to be a notorious gangster.  Joe works for Sam Dungan, a crooked politician and owner of several notorious dives.

When Joe is falsely accused of murder, Arthur is assigned to the case as the prosecuting attorney.  During the trial, Arthur calls Anne to the stand, not realizing that she is his own mother, and accuses her of moral degeneracy as he tries to paint an evil portrait of Joe. Dungan’s daughter Grace, who is Arthur’s sweetheart, discovers the truth about the brothers, and after finding the real murderer, sees that the mother and her sons are reunited. She then joins the happy family as Arthur’s bride.

This film is considered lost.  Sources:; TCM.