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.
Within Our Gates
Drama / Romance
Within Our Gates
Drama / Romance
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Southern negro Sylvia Landry visits her cousin Alma in the north, where there is less racial prejudice than in her home town of Piney Woods in the deep south, and is anxiously awaiting her fiancé, Conrad. But Alma has designs on Conrad and tricks Sylvia into a compromising situation when he arrives, and he abandons her. Disheartened, she returns to Piney Woods to help a reverend running a school for young negroes. Sylvia learns that the reverend hasn't the heart to turn away poor students, and unless he can raise $5,000 to supplement the $1.49 per child per year that the state supplies, the school will be closed. She goes up north again to try to raise the money and has little success, but meets kindly negro, Dr. V. Vivian, who helps her regain her stolen purse. When she saves a child from being hit by an auto, she herself is slightly injured. But the owner of the car is philanthropist Mrs. Elena Warwick, who is sympathetic to her quest and promises to donate the $5,000 to the school. Her bigoted southern friend, Mrs. Stratton, tries to talk her out of the donation, and Mrs. Warwick gets so incensed she raises the amount to $50,000. Her job done, Sylvia returns to Piney Woods. But Dr. Vivian has fallen in love with Sylvia and goes to Alma to try to find her. There he learns the shocking details of her past and that of her family. —Arthur Hausner
Uploaded By: FREEMAN
March 29, 2022 at 10:29 PM