Paul Robeson

Film Pioneer

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About the Book

This is the first book-length study of the 12 films starring African American Renaissance man Paul Robeson (1898–1976). Singer, actor, author, lawyer, athlete, pacifist and civil rights activist, Robeson was also the first African American to receive top billing in motion pictures, delivering unforgettable characterizations in such classics as The Emperor Jones (1933), Sanders of the River (1935), Show Boat (1936) and The Proud Valley (1940). Original research is provided from primary materials housed at the Schomburg Center for Black Culture in Harlem and the FBI archives in Washington, D.C., and from Robeson’s family and friends, including his son Paul Robeson, Jr. Two appendices cover Robeson’s film work as offscreen narrator and singer and his many stage appearances. Rare illustrations include never-before-published original studio materials.

About the Author(s)

Scott Allen Nollen was educated in film and history at the University of Iowa. He has written and edited more than 40 books on the history of film, literature and music.

Bibliographic Details

Scott Allen Nollen
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 215
Bibliographic Info: 64 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2010
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3520-3
eISBN: 978-0-7864-5747-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface      1

1. Great Things to Come      7

2. Black Preacher’s Ambition: Body and Soul (1925)      14

3. The Growth of an Idea: Borderline (1930)      24

4. Bloomin’ Majesty: The Emperor Jones (1933)      32

5. Imperial Palaver: Sanders of the River (1935)      43

6. Whale on the Mississippi: Show Boat (1936)      56

7. Singing King of Casanga: The Song of Freedom (1936)      71

8. Down in the Ditch: Big Fella (1937)      85

9. Enough Here for All: King Solomon’s Mines (1937)      93

10. Greener Pastures: Jericho (1937)      106

11. A People’s Film: The Proud Valley (1940)      123

12. We Were Brothers: Native Land (1942)      137

13. Shantytown Shake-Up: Tales of Manhattan (1942)      145

14. Deep River      154

Appendix A: Non–Feature Film Performances      189

Appendix B: Stage Performances      191

Chapter Notes      195

Bibliography      199

Index      203