The Emperor Jones

Overview

This DVD of the oft-bootlegged 1933 feature The Emperor Jones claims to have been restored by the Library of Congress, and to some extent one can see the justification of this claim -- from the opening credits, the movie's full-screen image (1.33-to-1) is sharper and its soundtrack crisper than many an unauthorized version of the movie; indeed, one gets a sense that, in its best moments, this is what the movie must have looked like in television presentations before its copyright was allowed to lapse in 1961. The...
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Paul Robeson, Dudley Digges, Frank Wilson, Fredi Washington, Ruby Elzy November 25, 2003 DVD New in new packaging. Language: English. Run time: 72 mins. Aspect ratio: 1.33: 1. ... Originally released: 1933. Unscrupulously ambitious Brutus Jones escapes from jail after killing a guard and through bluff and bravado finds himself the emperor of a Caribbean island. Read more Show Less

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014381072921 This item is brand new. Please allow 4 - 14 business days for Standard shipping, within the US. Thank you for supporting our small, family-owned business!

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Overview

This DVD of the oft-bootlegged 1933 feature The Emperor Jones claims to have been restored by the Library of Congress, and to some extent one can see the justification of this claim -- from the opening credits, the movie's full-screen image (1.33-to-1) is sharper and its soundtrack crisper than many an unauthorized version of the movie; indeed, one gets a sense that, in its best moments, this is what the movie must have looked like in television presentations before its copyright was allowed to lapse in 1961. The clarity of the audio is a revelation, especially in the scene about six-and-a-half minutes in, in which Paul Robeson sings in church. On the other hand, there are missing frames in various spots, and the use of the restored soundtrack with some still-missing footage meant that there are image drop-outs at different points in the movie; balancing that out is a color sequence that had been lost for some 60 years, in the final sequence of the movie. Some scratches remain, but in the absence of a Criterion Collection edition with all of the whistles and bells, this may well be the best way to see the movie, this despite some scratches that remain in certain shots. Potential purchasers should be aware, however, that there is reportedly a new, upgraded DVD edition of the movie in preparation as of late 2006. Otherwise, the film has been given a reasonably generous 16 chapters, accessible through a nicely designed and easy-to-use menu.
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Special Features

[None specified]
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Janiss Garza
With his overpowering charisma and deep, captivating voice, Paul Robeson leaves a haunting impression as the conniving, power-mad Brutus Jones in this film adaptation of the Eugene O'Neill play. While African-American critics of the day condemned the story's stereotypes (even while the African-American community itself embraced the film and Robeson), the truth is that none of the characters are really sympathetic, and that especially goes for Dudley Digges as slimy trader Smithers, the only important white member of the cast. The most unsympathetic character of all is Jones, who doesn't care whom he swindles, tricks, or murders to work his way up to influence and wealth. But as hateful as Jones is, Robeson also makes him fascinating. When the Emperor Jones creates his own downfall on the small Caribbean island he rules, Robeson's desperation and horror is chilling to watch (he's also helped in good part by the surreal cinematography of Ernest Haller, and the spooky, midnight-blue tinting of the black-and-white photography). For many years, The Emperor Jones was only available in truncated form because it had been edited for censorship reasons close to its release date (many of the racial epithets were considered extremely offensive). In 2001, the Library of Congress reproduced something close to the version that was originally released in 1933. As a result, this picture -- Robeson's talkie debut, and a minor classic -- can be seen with its full impact intact.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 11/25/2003
  • UPC: 014381072921
  • Original Release: 1933
  • Rating:

  • Source: Image Entertainment
  • Region Code: 1
  • Aspect Ratio: Pre-1954 Standard (1.33.1)
  • Presentation: Black & White
  • Sound: Dolby Digital Mono
  • Time: 1:16:00
  • Format: DVD

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Paul Robeson Brutus Jones
Dudley Digges Smithers
Frank Wilson Jeff
Fredi Washington Undine
Ruby Elzy Dolly
George Haymid Stamper Lem
Jackie Mayble Marcella
Blueboy O'Connor Treasurer
Brandon Evans Carrington
Rex Ingram Court Crier
Technical Credits
Dudley Murphy Director
Gifford Cochran Producer
William C. DeMille Producer
Ernest Haller Cinematographer
DuBose Heyward Screenwriter
Rosamond Johnson Score Composer
Joseph I. Kane Sound/Sound Designer
John Krimsky Producer
Joseph H. Nadel Asst. Director
Herman Rosse Art Director, Set Decoration/Design
Frank Tours Score Composer, Musical Direction/Supervision
Grant Whytock Editor
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Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Main Title [3:39]
2. Praying for Brutus Jones [3:53]
3. Romantic Complications [6:11]
4. Moving Up [5:20]
5. Deadly Crap Game [4:34]
6. Doing Time [3:21]
7. Trouble Here I Come! [2:55]
8. Belongs to Mr. Smithers [4:23]
9. Corrupting the Island [1:42]
10. Smithers and Jones Ltd. & Inc. [3:02]
11. Hail Emperor Jones [5:22]
12. Ruthless Leader [6:29]
13. The Rotten Ship Is Sinking [6:06]
14. The Sound of Uprising [2:56]
15. Haunting Drum Beats [9:06]
16. The People Have Spoken [6:53]
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Menu

Side #1 --
   Feature Start
   Scene Selection
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