Of all Paul Robeson’s eleven starring film performances, by far his most iconic was his breakthrough in the big-screen adaptation of Eugene O’Neill’s The Emperor Jones (1933). He was already a legend for his stage incarnation of Brutus Jones, a Pullman porter who powers his way to rule of a Caribbean island, but with this, his first sound-era film role, his regal image was married to his booming voice for eternity. With The Emperor Jones, Robeson became the first African-American leading man in mainstream movies and, he said, gained a deeper understanding of cinema’s potential to change racial misconceptions. Previously censored, The Emperor Jones is presented here in its most complete form. —The Criterion Collection
Dudley Murphy (July 10, 1897 – February 22, 1968) was an American film director. Murphy was born on July 10, 1897 in Winchester, Massachusetts. He began making films in the early 1920s after working as a journalist.
In his first short film, Soul of the Cypress (1921), a variation on the Orpheus myth, the film’s protagonist falls in love with a dryad (a wood nymph whose soul dwells in an ancient tree) and throws himself into the sea to become immortal and spend eternity with her. Murphy’s then-wife Chase Harringdine played the dryad. Murphy followed this with Danse Macabre (1922) featuring Adolph Bolm, Olin Howland, and Ruth Page. Both of these early films are in the DVD collection Unseen Cinema issued in October 2005 (see link below).
Murphy’s eighth film, Ballet mécanique, which he co-directed with the French artist Fernand Léger, premiered on 24 September 1924 at the Internationale Ausstellung neuer Theatertechnik (International Exposition for New Theater Technique… read more
A look at the posters for “Hollywood’s Naughtiest, Bawdiest Year.”