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The Emperor Jones [DVD]

Paul Robeson , Dudley Digges , Dudley Murphy    Parental Guidance   DVD
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: 7.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Product details

  • Actors: Paul Robeson, Dudley Digges, Frank H. Wilson, Fredi Washington
  • Directors: Dudley Murphy
  • Format: Dolby, PAL
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Odeon Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: 31 Oct 2011
  • Run Time: 72 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • ASIN: B005KJ4WL4
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 76,910 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

First UK DVD release of this 1933 drama starring acclaimed singer and activist Paul Robeson. Digitally Remastered award winning film. Brutus Jones (Paul Robeson) is a handsome, ambitious and devout churchgoer from the backwoods who leaves to become a Pullman porter in New York City. Once there, he gives in to his newfound world of fast money and loose women falling for Undine (Fredi Washington), the girl of his friend Jeff (Frank C. Wilson). Having failed to pull a quick-buck money deal, Jones shoots craps against Jeff before discovering that the dice are crooked. When Jeff lies dead after a fight, Jones is found guilty of murder and sentenced to life on a chain gang. Desperate to escape, Jones stages a breakout and kills a warder. Making good his escape to a Caribbean island, Jones eventually becomes the Island s ruler: The Emperor Jones. But will his sins catch up with him? This was the film that made a star of Paul Robeson and its significance was that it was the first film to have an African American as its leading man.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars film guide 18 Nov 2011
it's quite a good drama Paul Robeson plays a train porter,who is sent to a chain gang for murder.escapes and becomes the emporor of a caribbean island but he treats the people bad and they rise up and he try's to escape through the jungle. its black\ white with a color sequence, but i was dissapointen he only sings 2 songs.why have a great singer like Paul Robeson in a film and only sing 2 songs.good picture quality and good sound, no extras.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.7 out of 5 stars  12 reviews
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An Interesting Failure 10 April 2003
By Gary F. Taylor - Published on
Playwright Eugene O'Neill's early work often combined memorable characters and stories with social commentary and innovative theatrical concepts--and among his first great successes was THE EMPEROR JONES, which starred perhaps the single finest black actor of the 1920s and 1930s, the legendary Paul Robeson. When United Artists purchased the screen rights, Robeson went with the package, and this 1933 film was the result.
The story concerns a black man of the depression era who lacks the moral stamina to resist the various temptations set before him, and who ultimately finds himself on a remote island where he uses his superior intellect and physically intimidating presence to set himself up as "Emperor." But his own past troubles have hardened him. Instead of ruling in justice, he uses his position to bleed the population--and they revolt against him.
But regretfully, this film isn't half as good as it could have been or a quarter as good as it should have been. On the stage, THE EMPEROR JONES had tremendous irony, for in so crushing his subjects Brutus Jones has essentially recreated the white American society that crushed him. Moreover, the staging was uniquely powerful, with the vast majority of the story played out as Jones runs through the jungle in an effort to escape his revolting subjects, all the while recalling the various events of his life that led him to the present moment. But the film version pretty much throws all of this out the window, preferring to downplay O'Neill's social commentary and reducing Jone's race through the jungle to a few scenes at the film's conclusion.
Robeson is a memorable actor, but he was still very new to the screen when this film was made, and although he is powerful his performance here is rather stagey in comparison with his later screen work. And while the film is occasionally interesting in a visual way, it simply doesn't have the courage to go all the way with O'Neil's origial vision. Fans of Robeson, O'Neil, and early 1930s film will find it an interesting failure, but most others should give it a miss.
GFT, Reviewer
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dated but Powerful 18 July 2002
By Bruce Kendall - Published on
Unfortunately, we are left with a relative paucity of Robeson's powerful talent. This early film will give you some indication of the majesty he must have conveyed live. No other figure in the first half of the 20th century conveyed the collective black consciousness as did Robeson. We have a few markers left us, amongst them the recordings and these few celluloid records. If you want to see one of the giants of the 20th century on film, buy this edition. It also represents a cinemataographic record of one of O'Neill's most famous, but least successful plays. True, the plot has its tensions and the play had its merits, but, in comparison to his monumental "Morning Becomes Electra" and "Desire Under the Elms," this play is decidedly secondary, in league with "The Hairy Ape."
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating movie with really creepy ending . . . 12 Dec 2000
By Brenna E. Lorenz - Published on
This movie is dark, eerie and fascinating, as it outlines the fall of an innocent Southern rural man, Brutus Jones, played brilliantly by Paul Robeson. Jones accidentally kills a man during a craps game and ends up fleeing brutal imprisonment to end up as a desperate castaway on a Carribean island. Through daring and cunning, he ends up as the cruel emperor of the island. The final scenes of this movie are still enough to send chills up the spine of a modern viewer. In addition to Paul Robeson and Fredi Washington, you get to see (or, more accurately, hear) Coot Grant and Kid Wesley Wilson performing "Toot It, Brother Armstrong" during the murder scene. Coot and Kid were a husband and wife vaudeville team during the early part of the 20th century. We also get a glimpse of an uncredited actor who is probably none other than Frankie "Halfpint" Jaxon, another vaudeville performer from this era. He is the little guy who plays the role of the treasurer on the island. We highly recommend this movie, but don't watch it right before going to bed -- it may give you nightmares!
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Emperor Jones a Lost Treasure 24 May 2003
By A. W. Bellais - Published on
Verified Purchase
The film creaks with age. It's a low-budget project that probably had a small audience in its day, but here is a treasure. Letting the sound track and the fuzzy images get in your way will only rob the viewer of a great theatrical experience. And, to witness Paul Robson sing and perform at the height of his career only enriches the experience. Too bad a serious restoration of this film has not been undertaken.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Robeson in his prime! 13 July 2001
By Andre M. - Published on
Along with "Body and Soul," this is among Robeson's finest screen work. Sort of an African-American version of a Greek tragedy and the idea of the corruption of power. The screenplay was co-written by DuBose Heyward, of "Porgy and Bess" fame.
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