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Emperor Jones [Slim Case]


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DVD 1-Disc Version
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Product Details

  • Actors: Paul Robeson, Dudley Digges, Frank Wilson
  • Directors: Dudley Murphy
  • Format: NTSC
  • Region: All Regions
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: EastWest
  • DVD Release Date: August 8, 2008
  • Run Time: 80 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001ERQHEG
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #766,860 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

Classic Black & White

A black man finds himself on a remote island where he uses his superior intellect and physically intimidating presence to set himself up as "Emperor."

Customer Reviews

He prays for forgiveness.
Acute Observer
The film neuters this innovative approach, but to Heyward's and Murphy's credit, the film compensates by expanding the tale of Jones with incidents not in the play.
Cosmoetica
A powerful adaptation of Eugene O'Neill's controversial play starring the great Paul Robeson.
Scott T. Rivers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Gary F. Taylor HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 10, 2003
Format: VHS Tape
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.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Kendall VINE VOICE on July 17, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
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."
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Brenna E. Lorenz on December 12, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
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!
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A. W. Bellais on May 24, 2003
Format: VHS Tape 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.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Andre M. on July 13, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Edward J. Jurewicz on February 21, 2009
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Do not buy this version of the film. It is shortened from the original by almost half an hour. More importantly the film transfer itself is horrific. It is technically unstable and breaks up in many places. The quality of the scenes that do come through are butchered beyond belief with an unbelievably muddy contrast ratio.

This product does disservice to a great work of art.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Scott T. Rivers VINE VOICE on September 18, 2013
Format: DVD
A powerful adaptation of Eugene O'Neill's controversial play starring the great Paul Robeson. "The Emperor Jones" (1933) suffers from occasional staginess, yet Robeson's remarkable talent and charisma dominate every scene. Inventive direction by Dudley Murphy, with an effective supporting role for Dudley Digges as the sleazy trader. Don't miss a rare opportunity to see the magnificent Robeson at his absolute best.
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