The Emperor Jones (1933) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Emperor Jones (1933)

The Emperor Jones (1933)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

The Emperor Jones Photos

Movie Info

Adapted by DuBose Heyward from a Eugene O'Neill play, Emperor Jones is one of Paul Robeson's earliest and most powerful leading roles. Railroad porter Brutus Jones (Robeson) leaves his girlfriend Dolly (Ruby Elzy) in favor of Undine (Fredi Washington), but he soon leaves her too. Brutus is a master manipulator, liar, and swindler who murders his friend Jeff (Frank Wilson) over a crap game. He ends up on a chain gang, but escapes to Haiti where the white trader Smithers (Dudley Digges) buys his freedom. He then scams his way into a business partnership with Smithers and becomes rich. He plays tricks on the natives with a gun, proclaiming that only a silver bullet can kill him. The natives believe he is immortal and he declares himself emperor, holding a tyrannical rule over the people. They naturally revolt, and he is forced to escape into the jungle. Brutus disappears into the woods where he hears voices and sees visions, eventually leading up to his suicide.
Classics , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
American Pop Classics

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Paul Robeson
as Brutus Jones
Dudley Digges
as Smithers
Ruby Elzy
as Dolly
Jackie Mayble
as Marcella
Blueboy O'Connor
as Treasurer
Brandon Evans
as Carrington
Rex Ingram
as Court Crier
Taylor Gordon
as Stick-Man
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for The Emperor Jones

All Critics (6) | Top Critics (2)

It is a distinguished offering, resolute and firm, with a most compelling portrayal by Paul Robeson.

Full Review… | October 16, 2007
New York Times
Top Critic

Paul Robeson gives one of his greatest film performances in this arty, dated, but interesting 1933 adaptation of Eugene O'Neill's play.

Full Review… | October 16, 2007
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

A great performance from the legendary African-American singer Paul Robeson.

Full Review… | January 21, 2008
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

The Emperor Jones bludgeoned through color barriers.

Full Review… | October 16, 2007
Q Network Film Desk

Robeson's powerful presence, particularly through his wonderful, mellifluous voice, dominates each scene.

Full Review… | October 16, 2007
TV Guide

Despite its marked deficiencies ... remains a "must see" for historic and cultural purposes

Full Review… | March 4, 2007
Old School Reviews

Audience Reviews for The Emperor Jones


This tale of a despot's rise and fall is well-acted and well-written, but it feels rushed. The film would have benefited from a longer run time.

Joseph Brown
Joseph Brown

Paul Robeson gives one of his greatest film performances in this arty, dated, but interesting 1933 adaptation of Eugene O'Neill's play.

Greg Wood
Greg Wood

A good movie for its time and Robeson played a big, broad sexual black man (He had numerous scenes when he took his shirt off) in the 1930s in this wild tale.

Dankwa Brooks
Dankwa Brooks

The Emperor Jones Quotes

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