Oscar Micheaux and His Circle: African-American Filmmaking and Race Cinema of the Silent Era

Oscar Micheaux and His Circle: African-American Filmmaking and Race Cinema of the Silent Era

by Pearl Bowser, Jane Marie Gaines
     
 

ISBN-10: 0253339944

ISBN-13: 9780253339942

Pub. Date: 07/28/2001

Publisher: Indiana University Press

Oscar Micheaux-the most prolific African-American filmmaker to date and a filmmaking
giant of the silent period-has finally found his rightful place in film history. Both artist and showman, Micheaux stirred controversy in his time as he confronted issues such as lynching, miscegenation, peonage and white supremacy, passing, and corruption among black clergymen

Overview

Oscar Micheaux-the most prolific African-American filmmaker to date and a filmmaking
giant of the silent period-has finally found his rightful place in film history. Both artist and showman, Micheaux stirred controversy in his time as he confronted issues such as lynching, miscegenation, peonage and white supremacy, passing, and corruption among black clergymen. He emphasized the importance of education and the rights of citizenship (the vote, equal protection under the law) for racial uplift, to advance race progress, to awaken black consciousness, and to correct negative behavior within black communities. These films spoke to black moviegoers in ways that were completely different from Hollywood pictures.

In this important new collection, prominent scholars examine Micheaux’s surviving silent films, his fellow producers of race films who alternately challenged or emulated his methods, and the cultural activities that surrounded and sustained these achievements. The essays shed new light on the feature filmmaking of Richard Maurice (Detroit), David Starkman and the Colored Players Film Corporation (Philadelphia), and Richard Norman (Florida), as well as the stardom of Evelyn Preer, Lucia Lynn Moses, Paul Robeson, Charles Gilpin, and Lawrence Chenault. Studies of the shorter films shot in 16mm by ethnographer Zora Neale Hurston and religious reformers James and Eloyce Gist (Washington, D.C.) fill out the complex picture of an era.

Authors examine Micheaux’s films (and novels) from a range of perspectives, including his radical aesthetic strategies, his uses of stereotypes, his powerful critiques of D. W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation and Eugene O’Neill’s race plays, his radical uses of other texts (notably the novels of Charles Chesnutt), and his work with such genres as the Western. The relationship between black film and both the stage (particularly the Lafayette Players) and the black press, issues of underdevelopment, and a genealogy of Micheaux scholarship, as well as extensive and more accurate filmographies, give a richly textured portrait of this era. The essays will fascinate the general public as well as scholars in the fields of film studies, cultural studies, and African American history. This thoroughly readable collection is a superb reference work lavishly illustrated with rare photographs.

Contributors include Pearl Bowser, Jayna Brown, Corey Creekmur, Jane Gaines, Gloria J. Gibson, J. Ronald Green, Arthur Jafa, Phyllis Klotman, Charles Musser, Charlene Regester, Louise Spence, Clyde R. Taylor, Sr. Francesca Thompson, and Michele Wallace.

Indiana University Press

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780253339942
Publisher:
Indiana University Press
Publication date:
07/28/2001
Edition description:
Annotated
Pages:
384
Product dimensions:
8.50(w) x 11.00(h) x 1.08(d)

Table of Contents

Contents

The Touring Package: Programs and Credits
Acknowledgments
Introduction: Oscar Micheaux and Race Movies of the Silent Period, Pearl Bowser, Jane Gaines, and Charles Musser

I. Overviews
1. Black Silence and the Politics of Representation, Clyde R. Taylor
2. The Notion of Treatment: Black Aesthetics and Film, based on an interview with Peter Hessli and additional contributions from Pearl Bowser, A. J. Jafa
3. From Shadows 'n Shufflin' to Spotlights and Cinema: The Lafayette Players, 1915-1932, Sr. Francesca Thompson
4. The African-American Press and Race Movies, 1909-1929, Charlene Regester

II. Oscar Micheaux
5. Oscar Micheaux's Within Our Gates: The Possibilities for Alternative Visions, Michele Wallace
6. Within Our Gates: From Race Melodrama to Opportunity Narrative, Jane Gaines
7. Oscar Micheaux's The Symbol of the Unconquered: Text and Context, Pearl Bowser and Louise Spence
8. To Redream the Dreams of White Playwrights: Reappropriation and Resistance in Oscar Micheaux's Body and Soul, Charles Musser
9. Black Patriarch on the Prairie: National Identity and Black Manhood in the Early Novels of Oscar Micheaux, Jayna Brown
10. Telling White Lies: Oscar Micheaux and Charles W. Chesnutt, Corey Creekmur

III. Micheaux's Contemporaries
11. Planes, Trains, and Automobiles: The Flying Ace, the Norman Company, and the Micheaux Connection, Phyllis Klotman
12. Colored Players Film Corporation
An Alternative to Micheaux, Charles Musser
Lost, then Found: The Wedding Scene from The Scar of Shame (1929), Pearl Bowser
13. Richard D. Maurice and the Maurice Film Company, Pearl Bowser and Charles Musser
14. Cinematic Foremothers: Zora Neale Hurston and Eloyce King Patrick Gist, Gloria J. Gibson

Appendix A. The Reemergence of Oscar Micheaux: A Timeline and Bibliographic Essay, J. Ronald Green
Appendix B. An Oscar Micheaux Filmography: From the Silents through His Transition to Sound (1919—1931),
Compiled by Charles Musser, Corey Creekmur, Pearl Bowser, Charlene Regester, Ron Green, and Louise Spence
Appendix C. A Colored Players Film Corporation Filmography, Compiled by Charles Musser
Appendix D. Norman Film Manufacturing Company: Production and Theatrical Release Dates for All-Black-Cast Films, Compiled by Phyllis Klotman

Notes
Bibliography, Compiled by Kristen Barnes, Jane Gaines, Fred Neumann, and Hank Okazaki
About the Contributors
Credits
Index

Indiana University Press

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