Body and Soul



Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 83%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Spilled 55%
IMDb Rating 6.2 10 1024

Keywords:   silent film

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Uploaded By: FREEMAN
March 31, 2022 at 04:43 AM



853.6 MB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
1 hr 33 min
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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by MartinHafer 8 / 10

Sort of like the black "Elmer Gantry"--and very innovative for its time.

Considering that this film was an all-black production with a very low budget, the results are surprisingly good. After all, many films made by the black community to be viewed by the black community were pretty dreadful affairs--mostly due to the incredibly poor production values. Here, however, Oscar Micheaux manages to make a film that is better than most mainstream films of the day. Part of is that he got a lot out of his cast and the money used to make the film and part of it is because the plot was so daring--and very ahead of its time.

Paul Robeson (in his first film) plays a horrible man. He is a con-man and poses as a preacher to bilk decent people out of their money. And, on top of that, he's a hard-drinking man who is not above using and destroying women in the process. For much of the film, his evil ways go undetected and he's seen as a pillar of the community. However, late in the film he goes way too far and his actions result in the death of a woman who inexplicably loved him. He is confronted with his evil near the end and this was very exciting. Unfortunately, this very modern and cynical look at church charlatans ran afoul of censors and Micheaux unfortunately was forced to tack on a bad ending that detracted, a bit, from the impact of the overall film.

Despite not getting a chance to hear Robeson's gorgeous voice since this is a silent, it did give him a great chance to show he could act--and act very well. In fact, of the many all-black productions I have watched, this has some of the best overall acting. Sure, there are a few silly characters here and there--but not many. Most are quite believable. There are a few minor quibbles about the film--apart from the ending. First, Robeson's character is not introduced well. Instead of seeing him live like the devil, the intertitle cards at the beginning tell about him--too much really. Second, the woman dying was clichéd. You don't just die of a broken heart and it could have been done in a much more believable manner--such as a suicide or having him beat her to death. Still, compared to all the films of the day, it was a wonderfully made film--and well worth seeing.

Reviewed by SnoopyStyle 6 / 10

the great Paul Robeson

Two escaped fugitives bring ruin to an African-American community. One passes himself off as Rev. Isaiah T. Jenkins (Paul Robeson) and the other is his cellmate Yello-Curley' Hinds. The fake reverend corrupts a member of his congregation, Isabelle Perkins, who happens to love Sylvester, Jenkins' long-lost identical twin brother.

First, I don't like some of the text which tries to use colloquial black speech. It's downgrading but also makes it harder to understand. Maybe the black audience of the day feels more comfortable with that. This is to be black cinema made for a black audience. I'm willing to accept it for what it is. On the other hand, I don't think some of the plot points make sense.

The mother wouldn't buy Sylvester revealing himself as a reverend right after telling her daughter to find herself a reverend. The mother would assume that the young couple is faking it. I also don't think the twin brother idea works in this plot. Apparently, this movie was chopped up to satisfy the censors and maybe the longer version functions better. The main aspect that really works is the great Paul Robeson. He is the magnetic lead and he delivers compelling performances.

Reviewed by tavm 7 / 10

Oscar Micheaux's Body and Soul was a fine film debut for Paul Robeson

This silent Oscar Micheaux production is notable as the first film of Paul Robeson, later to gain fame in the Broadway and movie version of Showboat. He plays a convict posing as the Reverend Isaiah T. Jenkins and his brother Sylvester. Both are pursuing a woman named Isabelle played by Mercedes Gilbert, a native of Jacksonville, Fla. which is where I once lived in from 1987-2003. Her mother, Martha Jane, is played by Micheaux's sister-in-law, Julia Theresa Russell. Martha Jane is a fan of the reverend and is excited about his upcoming wedding with her daughter. Isabelle prefers Sylvester but he doesn't meet her mother's approval because he doesn't make enough money (I guess the fact Isaiah is a man of the "cloth" is an exception to the mother). When the mother briefly leaves the reverend and Isabelle alone, the reverend looks to threaten the daughter but Martha Jane seems to arrive before anything bad happens. A later flashback extends the scene and explains why the daughter is so afraid of him...This was a pretty effective depiction of a tragedy as performed by the three lead players especially in Robeson's various moods as the convict-reverend. Micheaux also subtly implies a later possible rape scene in a cabin and mines some humor out of the audience of a rousing sermon near the end. Because the New York censor board couldn't accept the tragic ending, however, the director, with barely any more funds to shoot multiple changes simply had the whole thing be the dream of the mother with a happy ending for Isabelle and Sylvester. It does, however, show us both the good and bad sides of Robeson in playing dual roles to a black audience that could not have afforded to see him on Broadway at the time. So to anyone interested in early black cinema, Body and Soul comes highly recommended.

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