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Pioneers of African-American cinema

Call Numbers

  • BLU-RAY 791.4308996 P6626 DISC 1 (CEN)
  • BLU-RAY 791.4308996 P6626 DISC 2 (CEN)
  • BLU-RAY 791.4308996 P6626 DISC 3 (CEN)
  • BLU-RAY 791.4308996 P6626 DISC 4 (CEN)
  • BLU-RAY 791.4308996 P6626 DISC 5 (CEN)

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Blu-ray version.


Sound films are closed-captioned; silent films have English intertitles, some have accompanying music.


Dirty Gertie from Harlem U.S.A.: Francine Everette, Don Wilson, Katherine Moore, Alfred Hawkins, David Boykin, Spencer Williams.

Publication Information

New York, NY : Kino Classics, [2016]

Physical Description

5 videodiscs (approximately 1266 minutes) : silent and sound, black and white and color tinted : 4 3/4 in. + 1 booklet (76 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 18 cm)


Not rated.


Among the most fascinating chapters of film history is that of the so-called "race films" that flourished in the 1920s -'40s. Unlike the "black cast" films produced within the Hollywood studio system, these films not only starred African Americans but were funded, written, produced, edited, distributed, and often exhibited by people of color. Entrepreneurial filmmakers built an industry apart from the Hollywood establishment, cultivating visual and narrative styles that were uniquely their own.


"Five-disc collection; nineteen digitally restored feature films; short films, fragments, documentaries; 80-page booklet with essays and photos; interviews with historians and archivists; musical scores by DJ Spooky, Max Roach, Samuel Waymon, Donald Sosin & more; included bonus content not available on DVD"--Container.

Body and soul: Based on the novel by Oscar Micheaux.

Dirty Gerties from Harlem U.S.A.: Based on the story "Miss Thompson" by W. Somerset Maugham.

Ten minutes to live: Based on the short stories "The Faker," "The Killer," and "Harlem after midnight" a collection entitled "Harlem after midnight" (author undetermined).

Ten nights in a bar room: Based on the novel by Timothy Shay Arthur and the stage adaptation by William W. Pratt.

The birthright: Based on the novel by Thomas Sigismund Stribling.

The exile: Based on the novel The Conquest by Oscar Micheaux.

The girl from Chicago: Based on the short story "Jeff Ballinger's Woman" by Oscar Micheaux.

Veiled aristocrats: Based on the novel The House Behind the Cedars by Charles W. Chesnutt.

Films originally produced 1915-1946.

Special features: Disc 1. An introduction ; The films of Oscar Micheaux -- Disc 2. The color line ; Ten nights in a bar room : an introduction ; About the restoration -- Disc 3. Religion in early African-American cinema ; Eleven P.M. : an introduction ; Interview with S. Torriano Berry -- Disc 4. Veiled aristocrats [Theatrical trailer] ; Birthright [Theatrical trailer] ; We work again [Blu-ray edition only] -- Disc 5. Tyler Texas black film collection [Promotional film] ; The films of Zora Neale Hurston ; The films of Spencer Williams ; The end of an era -- Booklet: Film form/film function / Paul D. Miller ; Race cinema and the color line / Charles Musser ; Race movies : a patchwork history / Jacqueline Najuma Stewart ; A special discovery : Pearl Bowser and the Moses sisters / Rhea L. Combs ; Reverend Solomon Sir Jones : capturing progress in black Oklahoma, 1924-28 / Mary N. Elliott ; Special thanks ; Filmography ; Suggested reading.

Booklet, titled Pioneers of African-American cinema: film notes, includes an introduction by Paul D. Miller (aka D.J. Spooky), and essays by Charles Musser, Jacqueline Najuma Stewart, Rhea L. Combs, and Mary N. Elliott.


  • Two knights of vaudeville Mercy, the mummy mumbled Reckless rover Within our gates Symbol of the unconquered : a story of the Ku Klux Klan By right of birth Body and soul Screen snapshots
  • Regeneration Flying ace Ten nights in a bar room Rev. S. S. Jones home movies Scar of shame
  • Eleven P.M. Hell-bound train Verdict : not guilty Heaven-bound travelers Darktown revue Exile Hot Biskits
  • Girl from Chicago Ten minutes to live Veiled aristocrats Veiled aristocrats Birthright Birthright We work again
  • Bronze buckaroo Zora Neale Hurston fieldwork footage Commandment Keeper Church, Beaufort, South Carolina, May 1940 Blood of Jesus Dirty Gertie from Harlem U.S.A. Moses sisters interview Tyler Texas Black film collection

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