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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Scar of Shame (1927) & Within Our Gates (1920) Colored Players Film Corporation silent films

The Colored Players Film Corporation, also known as The Colored Players Film Corporation of Philadelphia, was an independent silent film production company based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Primarily founded by David Starkman and Sherman H. Dudley in 1926, the film company for the most part made silent melodramatic films that featured all African American casts.

During its brief time operating, the production company released four films, including A Prince of His Race (1926), a remake of Timothy Shay Arthur’s Ten Nights in a Bar Room (1926) with an all black cast, Children of Fate (1927), and finally The Scar of Shame (1929).

Of the four films the company produced only Ten Nights in a Bar Room and The Scar of Shame still remain.

The Scar Of Shame (1927) Colored Players Film Corporation silent film

An educated, upscale young black musician marries a woman from a lower socioeconomic class to get her out of the clutches of her stepfather, who beats and abuses her.

The Scar of Shame is a silent film which was filmed in 1926 and released in 1927.

It was produced by the Colored Players Film Corporation of Philadelphia, in one of the earliest examples of "race movies", in which an entirely black cast performed a feature film specifically for a black audience. The film was produced and written by David Starkman and was directed by Frank Peregini, both white.

The Scar of Shame was a black silent melodrama with black actors written for a predominately black Audience. Melodramas were the genre of choice for early 20th century filmmakers.

This film emerged during a time of great breakthroughs in not only African American film but all art with the Harlem Renaissance when “a new sense of black consciousness emerged” likely after witnessing the bravery of African American soldiers in World War I. This was a collaboration of a “black cast, white crew and interracial production team” produced by the conspicuously named “Colored Players” who were mostly white, in 1927.

The Scar of Shame was one of the only three films produced by this company which was founded in 1926 in Philadelphia by a generous investment.

In Jane Gaine’s article on “Skin Color and Caste in Black Melodrama,” she claims that the film mostly takes its substance from D.W. Griffith’s films: Intolerance (1916) and Broken Blossoms (1919). Both of these Griffith classics starred Lillian Gish.

There are undeniable similarities between the films with scenes such as Spike beating Louise matching up remarkably with paternal beatings of the character Lucy (Lillian Gish) in Broken Blossoms.

Harry Henderson - Alvin Hillyard
Norman Johnstone - Eddie Blake
Ann Kennedy - Mrs. Lucretia Green
Lucia Lynn Moses - Louise Howard
William E. Pettus - Spike Howard
Lawrence Chenault - Ralph Hathaway
Pearl McCormack - Miss Alice Hathaway

Original Music Score by Brian Pinette
1 hour 17 minutes

Within Our Gates (1920)

Within Our Gates (1920) is a silent film by the director Oscar Micheaux that portrays the contemporary racial situation in the United States during the early twentieth century, the years of Jim Crow, the revival of the Ku Klux Klan, the Great Migration of blacks to cities of the North and Midwest, and the emergence of the "New Negro". It was part of a genre called race films.

The plot features an African-American woman who goes North in an effort to raise money for a rural school in the Deep South for poor Black children. Her romance with a black doctor eventually leads to revelations about her family's past and her own mixed-race, European ancestry. The film portrays racial violence under white supremacy, and the lynching of a black man. Produced, written and directed by Oscar Micheaux, it is the oldest known surviving film made by an African-American director.

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.

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
S.T. Jacks as Reverend Wilson Jacobs (uncredited).

Original Music Score by Brian Pinette
Running time: 1 hour 17 minutes
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