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Oscar Micheaux

  • Highest Rated: 100% Within Our Gates (1920)
  • Lowest Rated: 80% Body and Soul (1925)
  • Birthday: Not Available
  • Birthplace: Not Available
  • Though independent filmmaker Oscar Micheaux was an important and prolific contributor to early black American cinema, his work has been largely ignored by film historians. Part of this is due to the fact that few of the forty films he made between 1919 and 1948 have survived, but it is also due to his controversial racial messages and the technical inferiority of his films that have made him hard to integrate into standard histories. Prior to becoming a filmmaker Micheaux worked as a shoeshine boy, a farm worker, and a Pullman porter. By 1913, Micheaux was running a 500 acre South Dakota homestead and had written, published and promoted The Conquest, a semi-autobiographical novel -- he would go on to write ten more. In 1918, the Lincoln Film Company, one of the first all-black studios, offered to film one of his novels, The Homesteader (1917). But negotiations broke down and Micheaux decided to make it himself. He then went to Chicago and took over the abandoned Selig Studio; the film was released one year later. Micheaux became quite successful. By the '30s, black independent cinema was in decline due to the rise of Hollywood all-black musicals and the Depression, but Micheaux was still able to survive. Much of the poor technical qualities of his films can be attributed to lack of funding which resulted in his use of non-pro actors. Most of his films were poorly lit; scenes were shot in one take and the resulting flubs were not edited out. In 1931, he released the sound film The Exile. The film generated controversy amongst black critics and audiences for it's ambivalent, bourgeois ideologies. His 1938 film God's Step Children was especially controversial. Micheaux endeavored to imitate popular Hollywood genres and create African-American versions of major stars, but his films were not terribly successful. He attempted a comeback in 1948 with The Betrayal but it failed miserably. Three years later he died while on a promotional tour.

Highest Rated Movies

Filmography

Movies

Rating

Title

Credit

Box
Office

Year

No Score Yet Black Hollywood: Blaxploitation and Advancing an Independent Black Cinema Actor 2008
No Score Yet Black Cinema: Silence to Sound Actor 2007
No Score Yet Century of Black Cinema Actor 1997
No Score Yet Lying Lips Director Producer Screenwriter 1939
No Score Yet Swing! Screenwriter Director Producer 1938
No Score Yet God's Step Children Director Producer Screenwriter 1938
No Score Yet Murder in Harlem Director 1935
No Score Yet Veiled Aristocrats Producer Director Screenwriter 1932
No Score Yet The Girl from Chicago Producer Director Screenwriter 1932
No Score Yet Ten Minutes to Live Screenwriter Producer Director 1932
No Score Yet The Exile Producer Screenwriter Director 1931
80% Body and Soul Director 1925
No Score Yet Paul Robeson: Portraits of the Artist Director 1925
No Score Yet Symbol of the Unconquered Screenwriter Producer Director 1920
100% Within Our Gates Screenwriter Producer Director 1920

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