The Blood Of Jesus (1941, B&W):
Pious, young Martha Jackson is accidentally shot by her sinful husband, Razz Jackson, on the very same day she was baptized in a solemn riverside service. Instead of being sent straight to heaven, Martha is escorted by an angel to The Crossroads, where a sign points in opposite directions - Hell and Zion. Just as she turns toward salvation, Satan sends suave seducer, Judas Green, to sweet-talk her into changing her mind. The low-life juke joints of the city are fun at first, but when ordered to "work" the dance floor with other fallen women, Martha flees in horror. Mistaken for an escaping female pickpocket, she is chased all the way back to The Crossroads by a gang of vengeful men intent on stoning her to death.
A hauntingly lyrical morality tale, The Blood Of Jesus was the first directorial effort by black actor, Spencer Williams, who also wrote, produced and acted in the film (as the sinful Razz). Williams was equally at home in front of and behind the lens and was a powerful force in early black cinema. Mainstream audiences know Williams mostly for his brilliant comedic work in the Fifties as Andrew H. Brown in the Amos 'n' Andy TV show.
Starring Spencer Williams, Cathryn Caviness, Juanita Riley and James B. Jones; Directed, Written and Produced by Spencer Williams.
Lying Lips (1939, B&W): Sweet Elsie Bellwood sings and dances in a popular cabaret act. Refusing to provide "special entertainment" for the management's VIP guests, she is dismissed and returns home from work to find her beloved Auntie has been murdered. Suspicion falls on Elsie when authorities uncover Auntie's large life insurance policy naming her niece as beneficiary. Although Detectives Wenzer and Hadnot believe she is innocent, Elsie is convicted and sent to prison. Convinced that the cabaret owners are involved in the crime, the detectives devise a plan to spook a confession out of one of them with the help of some noisy ghosts.
Lying Lips is an example of early black cinema and features the song and dance talents of Edna Mae Harris. The vivacious performer was quite popular with black audiences and appeared in numerous "race" pictures of the 30s and 40s, including Spirit Of Youth (1938), Paradise In Harlem (1939) and The Notorious Elinor Lee (1940). The tall, deep-voiced actor playing Detective Wenzel is Robert Earl Jones, father of award-winning film star, James Earl Jones. Director Oscar Micheaux, considered by many to be the godfather of black cinema, was the first African-American to produce a feature film - The Homesteader (1919).
Starring Edna Mae Harris, Carman Newsome andRobert Earl Jones; Directed by Oscar Micheaux.