The Emperor Jones

1933

Drama / Music

199
Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 71%
IMDb Rating 6.4 10 745

Synopsis


Downloaded times
August 4, 2020

Director

Cast

Rex Ingram as Court Crier
720p.WEB 1080p.WEB
700.26 MB
1280*720
English 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
72 min
P/S N/A / N/A
1.27 GB
1920×1080
English 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
72 min
P/S N/A / N/A

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Ron Oliver 10 / 10 / 10

Paul Robeson's Triumph

By murder & guile, a black Pullman conductor becomes THE EMPEROR JONES on an impoverished Caribbean isle. Eugene O'Neill's allegorical fable comes alive in this unique and intriguing film, recently restored by the Library of Congress. The legendary Paul Robeson dominates the film as a man who abandons his wife & Baptist upbringing to worship himself, wallowing gleefully in sin & violence as long as it furthers his goal for power & riches - the chance to become an emperor of his own tiny domain is merely the latest opportunity in a serendipitous sequence to be exploited. Robeson's athletic physique, magnificent singing voice, accomplished acting skills and over-sized personality make him the ideal choice for the complex role. Whether leading chained prisoners in song, using brains & bravado to seize his little kingdom, or slyly peering at himself in a succession of mirrors as he enters his throne room in full military regalia, Robeson is never less than fully entertaining. Fredi Washington shines in her small role as Robeson's faithful wife. Dudley Digges is appropriately unsavory as the white trader with whom Robeson must do business in order to keep his throne. Movie mavens will recognize a young Moms Mabley as the owner of a New York City nightclub; an even younger Harold Nicholas (of the Nicholas Brothers) as a boy tap dancer & the wonderful Rex Ingram as Robeson's Court Crier - all uncredited. This film should be considered as a product of its times; it makes no pretensions towards political correctness. *********************** O'Neill's play is obviously based on the historical Henri Christophe (1767-1820), the former slave who, after being involved in the bloody revolution against the French and the assassination of his predecessor, became president of northern Haiti in 1807 and its self-proclaimed king in 1811. Despotic & brilliant, King Henri enjoyed a reign of enormous brutality and opulence. He built for himself 6 châteaux, 8 palaces and the massive Citadelle Laferrière, still considered one of the wonders of the age. Christophe supported himself with a fabricated nobility consisting of 4 princes, 8 dukes, 22 counts, 37 barons & 14 knights. After a paralytic stroke left him disabled, the people rose in revolt and Christophe‘s followers fled. Naturally reluctant to face the wrath of his former subjects, Christophe shot himself with a silver bullet.

Reviewed by theowinthrop 5 / 10 / 10

Eugene O'Neill Breaking Another Taboo.

In the 1920s American's greatest dramatist arrived on Broadway in the person of Eugene O'Neill. The son of a well remembered Shakespearean and Romantic actor (the nightmare relationship of Eugene, his father James, his mother, and his older brother is the subject of his last play A LONG DAY'S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT), O'Neill was not afraid to tackle subjects that were not usually discussed in American drama: incest in DESIRE UNDER THE ELMS for instance. He experimented with different styles of acting, copying the Greek trilogy of Aschylus in MOURNING BECOMES ELECTRA, and using masked actors in THE GREAT GOD BROWN. But he also created the first modern drama of importance with a central figure who was an African American. This was THE EMPEROR JONES (1925). Brutus Jones is a tremendous step forward in American dramaturgy because he is the central figure. Than said O'Neill's play still maintains stereotyping. Brutus is a porter on a train, who frequently plays craps, and who has an argument with his friend Jeff and kills him in a fight with razors. He flees to a foreign island, and he soon discovers that he has leadership qualities there that enable him to set up a monarchy there with himself as Emperor. He even sets up a court with uniformed courtiers. But the moment he gives orders to destroy a village for not showing proper deference to him, his reign begins to fall apart. And soon from being Emperor he becomes a hunted animal. The stereotyping continues, with Brutus slowly losing his bearings and balance due to the incessant drums beating in the forest surrounding him. He hallucinates and sees the ghost of Jeff. He has always spread the word of his invincibility by saying only silver bullets could kill him. So his pursuers melt silver down to make the bullets they use to hunt him down and kill him. As was pointed out on another discussion of the film on this thread, O'Neill based the fall of Jones on that of Haitian Emperor Henri I (Henri Christophe), except that he committed suicide with a silver bullet when he was about to be captured and executed. The play was successful, and would be one of the first triumphs in Paul Robeson's career. He did not originate the role (as he did not originate the role of Joe in the stage production of SHOWBOAT). But he became identified with the role - to the point that he made this independent, somewhat defective production of the film in 1933. Except for Dudley Digges, as the one white man in Jones' kingdom (and Jones' occasional intimate), the cast is pretty forgettable. But it is watching Robeson in his one major lead role that holds our attention. He is a commanding figure in the film and fits the role of a man who loses his throne and power and sanity and life in one evil night. Still, one really wishes that the film's production values could have been better - some of the special effects (the appearance of the ghost of Jeff for example) are quite weak. With it's defects it is a measure of watching Robeson at his best that I'd rate it a "7" out of "10".

Reviewed by gftbiloxi 5 / 10 / 10

An Interesting Failure

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 original vision. Fans of Robeson, O'Neil, and early 1930s film will find it an interesting failure, but most others should give it a miss. Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer

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