Within Our Gates


Drama / Romance

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 100%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Spilled 49%
IMDb Rating 6.4 10 3074

Keywords:   school, silent film, reverend

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Uploaded By: FREEMAN
March 29, 2022 at 10:29 PM



720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
675.19 MB
English 2.0
24 fps
1 hr 13 min
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1.23 GB
English 2.0
24 fps
1 hr 13 min
P/S counting...

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by MartinHafer 8 / 10

Amazingly high quality film for its time

So often, Black-American cinema during the 1920s-40s is second-rate due to their exceptionally tiny budgets. While Hollywood had an abundance of money, films designed for Black audiences were generally made on shoe-string budgets with low production values. Despite this disadvantage, this early film (according to the video jacket, the oldest known Black-produced film) actually has a very contemporary look--on par with many of the mainstream movies of the day.

The film is the story about a woman who has a sordid past--just exactly what that is you only learn towards the end. The way the film is made, it APPEARS she is a woman of loose morals, though this is deceiving. This woman, despite her baggage, really is a very decent person--dedicated to educating poor Black children in the South. She spends much of the film working with these people and then leaving the school to head up North to find finances for the failing school. Late in the film, the sordid past is revealed. Exactly what it is you'll have to see for yourself, but it includes lynchings and illegitimacy--some pretty racy stuff for the time.

The film has a very strong message to encourage Black-Americans to become educated to earn self-respect and their piece of the American dream. The "good" main characters are exceptionally loyal and patriotic citizens and from time to time they are contrasted with Blacks who are less ambitious and worthless (such as the sellout preacher). Because of this, the film offers some excellent insight into the psyche of the Black community and their aspirations. This is truly an important film historically and pretty compelling viewing.

Reviewed by jboothmillard 6 / 10

Within Our Gates

I first found this silent film listed in the book 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, then available through the BFI (British Film Industry), I was always going to watch it, especially with the facts I read about it. Basically young African-American woman Sylvia Landry (Evelyn Preer) is visiting her cousin Alma Prichard (Flo Clements) in the north, where there is less racial prejudice compared to the deep south and her home town of Piney Woods. Sylvia is awaiting the return of her fiancé, Conrad Drebert (James D. Ruffin), so that they can marry, Alma also loves Conrad, and would like Sylvia to marry her brother-in-law, gambler and criminal Larry (Jack Chenault). Alma creates a compromising situation for when Conrad returns, he subsequently leaves for Brazil, abandoning Sylvia, while Larr murders a man during a poker game, a disheartened Sylvia returns to Piney Woods. Sylvia meets minister Reverand Jacobs, who runs the overcrowded Piney Woods School, a rural school for black children, he is struggling to cope with the small amount the state offer to give black children an education and the school faces closure, so Sylvia volunteers to try and raise $5,000. Sylvia has little success returning to the north, including her purse being stolen, but then she meets Dr. V. Vivian (Charles D. Lucas), who helps her recover her purse. Sylvia saves the life of a child playing in the street, almost being hit by a car herself, the car owner is wealthy philanthropist Mrs. Elena Warwick, who is sympathetic to her quest and offers to donate the $5,000 she needs. Her bigoted Southern friend Mrs. Geraldine Stratton (Bernice Ladd) tries to discourage her, but Mrs. Warwick increases the donation to $50,000, with her job done Sylvia makes her way back to Piney Woods. Dr. Vivian has fallen in love with Sylvia, he goes to Alma to try and find her, and through flashbacks, she tells him all about her shocking past. Sylvia was adopted and raised by a poor black family, her adoptive father Philip Gridlestone (Ralph Johnson) was accused of the murder of an unpopular but wealthy white man, because of this the family was lynched, Sylvia escaped and was almost raped, Gridlestone's brother discovered Sylvia was the mixed-race daughter of Philip. After hearing about her life, Dr. Vivian meets with Sylvia, he encourages her to be proud of the contributions African Americans have made to her country, he professes his love for her, and the film ends with them getting married. Also starring William Smith as Detective Philip Gentry, William Stark as Jasper Landry, Mattie Edwards as Jasper's Wife, E.G. Tatum as Efram - Gridlestone's Servant, Grant Edwards as Emil Landry and Grant Gorman as Armand Gridlestone. This film was made five years after the release of The Birth of a Nation, this film is seen as a response to it, it is one of the earliest surviving films made by an African American filmmaker, it is certainly a landmark and controversial black-and- white film, with its depiction of racial violence and segregation, and historically important, a shocking but most interesting silent drama. Good!

Reviewed by JohnHowardReid 6 / 10

An Amazing Take on African-Americans in 1919

The best word to describe this film is "amateurish". While it does have a central focus, the muddled, confused and confusing plot proceeds in fits and starts. Characters drop in and out of the narrative seemingly at random and sometimes change outlook right in the middle of a scene.

Worse still, the film has been edited with a proverbial meat-ax. Odd bits and pieces of irrelevant action are often spliced without rhyme or reason into the movie, further adding to the viewer's difficulties in following the plot.

Despite all obstacles, however, individual scenes do succeed. The lynch sequence exerts a terrible power because—whether by design or accident—it looks like an actual newsreel event.

Acting too is mighty variable. Evelyn Preer does good work as the unsettled heroine, Bernice Ladd makes a forceful bigot, and there are two outstanding actors among the ranks of obvious amateurs in the support cast: E.G. Tatum and the uncredited Old Ned.

Which brings me to the most amazing aspect of Micheaux' vision. "Within Our Gates" is a cry for justice, but no apologia. In fact it often seems to go out of its way to present a surprisingly warts and all take on African-Americans. The two men just mentioned, for instance, enact self-seeking traitors (and do so brilliantly). The little spiv, Jack Chenault, is a despicable criminal, and even the second female lead seems somewhat unsympathetic (especially in the film's original uncensored version which has unfortunately been lost).

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