Nobody’s Children

a/k/a OUR CHRISTIANITY
a/k/a OUR CHRISTIANITY AND NOBODY’S CHILD
a/k/a OUR CHRISTIANITY AND NOBODY’S CHILDREN

Nobody's Children article

Details
Year of Release: 1920
Genre:  Drama
Rating:  N/A
Runtime:  Unknown
Black & White
Silent
Studio:  Maurice Film Co.
Producer:  Richard Maurice
Director:  Richard Maurice

Cast
Richard Maurice
Jacques Farmer
Joe Green
Alex Griffin
Max Johnson
Vivian Maurice
Howard Nelson

Synopsis

A brother and sister are persecuted by their evil stepfather, who kidnaps the girl and imprisons her. A fight between the boy and the stepfather leads to the stepfather’s death.  The boy is arrested and sentenced to death for the crime. His cellmate helps him escape, and he is eventually exonerated, pardoned, and reunited with his sister.

Notes
This film is considered lost.

Photo Source: The Digital Library of Georgia/The University of Georgia Libraries. Source(s): TCM, IMDB

As The World Rolls On

a/k/a The Heart of Jack Johnson

as the world rolls on

Details
Year of Release: 1921
Genre: Drama
Rating: N/A
Runtime:  Unknown
Black & White
Silent
Studio: Andlauer Production Company
Producer: Unknown
Director: Unknown

Cast
Jack Johnson (Himself)
Blanche Thompson (Molly Moran)
Reed Thomas (Joe Walker)
Walter Simpson (Tom Atkins)

Synopsis

Industrious Joe Walker competes for the hand of Molly Moran. Joe’s rival for Molly’s affection is the vicious bully and gang leader Tom Atkins, who enjoys beating up on the weaker, smaller Joe. One day, as Joe is going home from work, his route takes him through a park where Tom and his gang are waiting. Fortunately, former heavyweight champ, Jack Johnson, is also in the park. Hearing Joe’s cries for help, Johnson goes to his aid. After Jack has finished with them, the rowdies lay stretched out on the ground.

Johnson offers to train Joe, convincing him to give up cigarettes and teaching him “physical and breathing exercises.” Under Johnson’s instructions Joe becomes a healthy man and an athlete.

About this time the National Colored League baseball games are in progress at the ball park. In a game between the Kansas City Monarchs and the Detroit Stars (actual scenes) the captain of the Monarchs, sprains his arm and due to illness and injuries to his pitching staff, is in desperate need of a pitcher.  Knowing Joe’s ability as an amateur pitcher, he appeals to Joe to finish the game. Joe agrees, puts on a uniform, pitches a wonderful game and hits the winning home run in the ninth inning.

A few weeks later at the Clover Leaf Club’s annual masquerade ball, Tom, jealous because of the attention Joe is showing Molly, schemes to get Joe out of the way. He has Joe beaten up, but Molly overhears the plot, denounces Tom and rushes to Joe.

Tom, decides on another scheme, and frames Molly for robbery. His plan is successful and Molly is arrested. At the trial a small boy saves Molly from conviction by identifying Tom as the guilty one. Tom tries to escape from the courtroom, but Joe goes after him. Joe catches up with Tom and as a result of the training he received from Jack Johnson is able to beat Tom to the ground.

Later, Joe and Molly get married and go to Johnson’s home for his blessing. Johnson gives them a check for $1,000 as a nest egg. As the world rolls on, six years later Molly, Joe and their family live happily in a pleasant home.

Notes
The working title was The Heart of Jack Johnson.

A New York Times article reported that the film contained “footage of an all-black Kansas team in the background.”  As the World Rolls On featured footage of actual NNL games involving the Kansas City Monarchs, Detroit Stars, and Chicago American Giants. The games are integrated into the plot, and Negro league players, notably Sam Crawford, Bruce Petway, and Cristóbal Torriente, had roles in the film.

This film is believed to be lost.

Source(s): agatetype.typepad.com; TCM.

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In The Depths of Our Hearts

Details:
Year of Release: 1920
Genre:  Drama
Rating: N/A
Runtime: Unknown
Black & White
Silent
Studio: Royal Garden Film Company
Producer: Unknown
Director: Unknown

Cast:
Herman DeLavalade
Augusta Williams
Irene Conn
Virgil Williams
Charles Allen

Synopsis
The mother of a light-skinned Black family raises her children to avoid the company of dark-skinned Blacks. The son, who has a dark-skinned sweetheart, rebels, and his mother sends him away to his uncle’s farm. When he is mistreated, he flees to the city. Later the boy returns home, a prosperous man, and meets up with his former love. In the end he manages to show his mother the error of her ways. Source: TCM.

Notes
This film is considered lost.

Reformation

Details
Year of Release: 1920
Genre: Drama
Rating: N/A
Runtime:  Not Available
Black & White
Silent
Studio: The Loyalty Film Company (f/k/a Democracy Film Corporation)
Director: Captain Leslie T. Peacocke

Cast
Sidney P. Dones (Carter Spencer)
Geraldine Steele (Clarice Penlow)

Synopsis
Carter Spencer has a taste for flirtation, gambling and drinking. He falls in love with choir singer, Clarice Penlow, who disapproves of his wild ways. At the onset of prohibition, Clarice urges Carter to become a Secret Service agent to enforce the new law and he complies out of love.

Notes
The Loyalty Film Co, formerly the Democracy Film Co., included both Whites and Blacks in its management and produced films with Black casts. It is unclear whether this film, its second production, was ever completed or released. Source(s): TCM.

Man’s Duty, A

A Man's Duty

Details
Year of Release:  1919
Genre:  Drama
Rating: N/A
Runtime:  67 mins.
Black & White
Silent
Studio:  Lincoln Motion Picture Company
Director:  Harry A. Gant

Cast:   Clarence Brooks (Richard Beverly), Webb King (Hubert Gordon), Tasmania Darden, Ethel Gray, Eva Johnson, Anita Thompson.

Synopsis:   Richard Beverly and Hubert Gordon are rivals for the affections of a beautiful woman.   A plan, contrived by Hubert to embarrass Richard in public, ends with the two spending a drunken night at a bordello. Learning of the trick the next day, Richard fights Hubert, who hits his head on a rock after Richard knocks him down. Richard, thinking that he is a murderer, leaves town and becomes a dissipated drunk in a distant city, where he meets Merriam Givens. Hoping to clear himself of disgrace so that he can marry Merriam, Richard writes home and learns that, although Hubert survived the accident, a prostitute is pregnant as a result of that night and believes Richard is the father. Will Richard do the right thing and marry the mother of his child, or will he follow his heart to be with his true love?

Notes:  This was the first feature-length production of the Lincoln Motion Picture Co., one of the leading black independent companies of the period. Source(s):  TCM.  Photo Source:  A Separate Cinema.

The Homesteader

The Homesteader

Details:
Year of Release:  1919
Genre:  Drama
Rating: N/A
Runtime:  Unknown
Silent
Black & White
Studio:  Micheaux Book and Film Company
Producer:  Oscar Micheaux
Director:  Oscar Micheaux; Jerry Mills

Cast:
Charles D. Lucas (Jean Baptiste)
Evelyn Preer (Orlean)
Iris Hall (Agnes Stewart)
Vernon S. Duncan (McCarthy)
Inez Smith (Ethel)
Trevy Woods (Glavis/Ethel’s husband)

Synopsis:    In South Dakota, Agnes Stewart, a Scottish girl takes refuge in an isolated house during a blizzard. Hearing cries outside, she rescues Jean Baptiste, a Black homesteader who was in danger of freezing to death. Baptiste falls in love with Agnes, who does not know that she is not White.  Baptiste despairs of overcoming the social barriers that prevent their union  He returns east and marries Orlean, the daughter of McCarthy, a vain and greedy minister.  Baptiste is persecuted by McCarthy and by Ethel (McCarthy’s other daughter), who, like her father, possesses “all the evil a woman is capable of.”  When Orlean goes insane and commits suicide, Baptiste returns to South Dakota, finds Agnes and discovers that she is really Black. The two are able to be together and find happiness at last.

Notes:

Oscar Micheaux’s first film.

Some information in the plot synopsis comes from a 1927 interview with Evelyn Preer.

Micheaux’s 1948 film The Betrayal is sometimes described as a loose remake of The Homesteader.

Source(s): TCM; Wikipedia; Photo:  By Micheaux Book & Film Company via Wikimedia Commons.

The Symbol of the Unconquered

a/k/a The Symbol of the Unconquered: A Story of the Ku Klux Klan
a/k/a The Wilderness Trail
Title

Details
Year of Release:  1920
Genre:  Drama
Rating:  N/A
Runtime:   54 mins. (TCM print)
Black & White
Silent
Studio:  Micheaux Film Corporation
Producer:  Oscar Micheaux
Director:  Oscar Micheaux

Cast
Iris Hall (Eve Mason)
Walker Thompson (Hugh Van Allen)
Lawrence Chenault (Jefferson Driscoll)
Mattie Wilkes (Mother Driscoll)
Louis Déan (August Barr)
Leigh Whipper (Tugi an Indian Fakir)
E.G. Tatum (Abraham)
George Catlin (Dick Mason)
Jim Burris
James Burrough

Synopsis

Eve arrives in townEve Mason, a light-skinned Black woman, leaves Selma, Alabama for the northwest town of Oristown to claim the land and small house she inherited upon the death of her grandfather.  A fatigued Eve arrives at the Driscoll Hotel, which is owned by Jefferson Driscoll, another very light-skinned Black who wants to pass for White.  Driscoll hates the Negro race because his darker skinned mother once interfered with his wooing a White woman.  In spite of her light skin, Driscoll realizes Eve is Black as “her eyes betray her origins” and refuses to give her a room, instead he leads her to the barn where he has allowed Abraham, another potential guest who Driscoll refused to rent a room to because of the color of his skin.  During the night Eve is frightened by Abraham and flees the barn into the pouring rain.  The next day she meets kindly Hugh Van Allen, a young, Black prospector who has recently arrived in Oristown.  Hugh gives Eve a lift

It turns out Van Allen is her neighbor and he offers Eve a lift to her place outside of town.   A White couple, Mary and August Barr, are also neighbors of Van Allen and Eve.  August Barr is a former clergyman turned swindler and “a man of dubious financial schemes.”  Barr is in cahoots with his brother-in-law and an Indian fakir named Tugi to get back documents stolen by “half-breed Indian,” Philip Clark and which were then taken by an old Black prospector, believed to be Dick Mason, Eve’s grandfather.  The three determine that the documents are in Mason’s old cabin, where Eve is now living.

Someone is watching EveThat night Eve sees a terrible face looking in on her and cries out in fear.  Van Allen hears her and rushes to the rescue, but the intruder has gone.  Meanwhile Driscoll has sold his hotel and gets involved with horse thieves, Philip Clark and old Bill Stanton.  When he tries to pass off two stolen nags as thoroughbreds to Van Allen, the two get into a fight at the local bar and Van Allen beats up Driscoll to the amusement of the bar patrons.  Humiliated, Driscoll vows revenge.Hugh and Driscoll fight

Eve with Van Allen’s assistance, works hard to make the most of her modest homestead.  Mary Barr, August’s unhappy wife, and Eve soon become friends.  In town, Driscoll intercepts a letter meant for Van Allen which states that his land sits on an oil field.  Driscoll, in league with Barr and Tugi, men plot to get Van Allen’s valuable land.  They decide to get old Bill Stanton involved, as he knows how to make people do things they don’t want to do.

Warnings from the Black CrossThey post notes signed by The Knights of the Black Cross on Van Allen’s tent, threatening his life if he won’t sell his land.  Van Allen ignores the notes, leaves for town to buy furniture and won’t be back for 48 hours. In his absence, the last note is posted, giving him 48 hours to sell.

The Black Cross gatherThe group, led by Bill Stanton, plan a midnight attack and Stanton tells the others, “in one hour we will have driven him mad and burned him in his lair.”  Barr’s wife Mary, upset by the planned massacre, goes to warn Eve, who rides to town for help, just as Van Allen returns, unaware of the impending attack.

At this point footage is missing from the print.  Title cards state “the biggest moments of the photoplay are when the night riders are annihilated, a colored man with bricks being a big factor.”

Two years pass and Van Allen, having escaped death by a miracle, has become an oil king as his land was found to contain abundant oil fields.  One day Eve appears at his office to deliver a letter from the Committee for the Defense of the Colored Race, informing Van Allen that he “may give Eve his contribution without fear as she has rendered a great service to the cause of the Black race; despite her white skin, she is born of black parents”.  Bewildered, Van Allen had always believed that Eve was White and had never declared his love for fear of being scornfully rejected.  Eve believes she has fallenHe becomes emotional and Eve, misinterpreting his mood, believes she has now fallen in his esteem.

Eventually they resolve the misunderstanding and live happily ever after.

Eve is wrong

Notes

Opening title card states:  The Symbol of the Unconquered has been restored by the Museum of Modern Art – Department of Film and Video and Turner Classic Movies in cooperation with The Oscar Micheaux Society.

Micheaux’s fourth feature length film and one of his earliest surviving works.

Shot in Fort Lee, NJ under the working title The Wilderness Trail.

Sources:  Turner Class Movies; IMDB; YouTube.