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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on March 9, 2008
I love race films. Race films gives me a chance to discover unknown black acting talents who may have been overlooked. Race films are the only films that blacks were able to play people from all walks of life and be versatile and not be stereotypes.

You get four movies for the price of one really. All the films are about an hour long. Their all worth while watching, the quality is pretty good compared to whats out there.

The Duke Is Tops - Lena Horne's debut movie. I liked the entertainment in this film. It was truly great black entertainment. The acting didn't do much for me.

Spirit of Youth - This film is very enjoyable, its worth an hour to watch. Its basically about a seductress, a vamp played excellently by Mae Turner who is trying to ruin Joe Louis boxing career. Everyone in this movie gives effective performances, Mae Turner stood out the most to me. She was an excellent black actress, who was a pro at playing cold, evil women you love to hate (move out the way Bette Davis). She never had a career in Hollywood movies but in race films she was a familar face, only in race films was where she able to display her art. The entertainment in the film is tops. If you don't like the acting in race films, then you'll love the entertainment, black entertainment was know as being the best of all entertainment back then.

The Black King - A preacher and activist who is both crooked and inspiring convinces his people to leave America and go back home to Africa where they can be powerful and free. He becomes a leader of his people but at the same times takes advantage of their trust. Vivian Baber is a wonderful, becoming, graceful actress, she reminds me of Bette Davis in her early years. A.B. Comathiere gives a humourous, colorful performance as he always does.

I didn't watch the other film on the collection. Why was a 70's movie added, why not add another race film? I think anyone who buys this collection will enjoy it.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
"Race movies," a genre unique to the United States between 1915 and 1947, were quite popular with black Southern audiences and in Northern industrial cities that had large African American communities. After the successful legal desegregation of the film industry in 1948, this type of movie vanished, literally. Today, only a fifth of the original 500 race films still exist.

SYNOPSES:

"The Black King" - A Baptist minister starts a "Back to Africa" movement, but is accused of swindling money from his followers. This movie, made by a white-owned company, was billed as a satire on the life of Marcus Garvey, an early black separatist. (After a fraud conviction, Garvey was deported to Jamaica in 1925-- he is now recognized as a hero of that island nation.)

"The Duke is Tops" - In order to further her career, Duke Davis convinces his girlfriend Ethel to leave his management, become a "single" and employ a talent scout. Ethel flops in her new show and so does Duke's latest production, now that Ethel is gone. Duke finds renewed success with a colorful travelling medicine show, then creates a venue for Ethel that's based on the medicine show concept.

"The Glove" - Cult film from the late 1970s. A down-on-his-luck former baseball player turned bounty hunter pursues a violent giant who beats his chosen victims with a formidable and frightening police riot glove. (This movie is an anomaly in this series.)

"Spirit Of Youth" - Biography of a fictional boxer that parallels in part the life of its star, Joe Louis. After he has a run-in with the gambling element, friends help heavyweight fighter Joe Thomas get his career back on track.

A similar 4-movie set is the SPENCER WILLIAMS COLLECTION.

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Parenthetical numbers preceding titles are 1 to 10 viewer poll ratings found at a film resource website.

(3.7) The Black King (1932) - A.B. DeComathiere/Vivianne Baber/Knolly Mitchell

(5.1) The Duke is Tops (1938) - Ralph Cooper/Lena Horne/Laurence Criner/Rubberneck Holmes/Basin Street Boys/Cats and the Fiddle

(4.9) The Glove (1979) - John Saxon/Roosevelt Grier/Joanna Cassidy/Joan Blondell/Jack Carter/Aldo Ray/Keenan Wynn

(6.0) Spirit Of Youth (1938) - Joe Louis/Edna Mae Harris/Clarence Muse/Mae Turner
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
This Collection was well worth my time and money. Although the quality for the most part was what I call "salvaged" it was watchable and the few missing clips, presumably from the splicing of the original donor film, were easy to accept. So called "Race Movies" ended in the late 1940's with the legal desecration of the film industry so they are rare and limited today. This collection, 2 all black, 1 Mostly Black and the Glove mixed, are a slice of history. Blacks were able to do things and portray situations that their white counter parts would not have dreamed of. From risque dance numbers to sexually suggestive situations. The only minus to this collection is that Platinum Video ruins the set with a constantly appearing and disappearing water mark in the lower right corner that is not only distracting but down right aggravating and detracted greatly to my enjoyment of the film. Enough already Platinum! We get that you claim rights to something that somebody else created & produced!!
One By one....
The Duke is Tops [73 Min B&W all Black Cast]~ I enjoyed this one the most. Lena Horne's first film, she is an innocent 20 years old and portrays a torch singer. She gets a chance that will leave her lover/manager, Duke (played by Ralph Cooper) behind and not wanting to choose it, Duke makes up her mind for her by dumping her. She is off to fail in the big city and of course, Duke to the rescue! Lena is nothing short of fabulous singing several songs! A True gem!

The Black King {72 Min B&W all Black Cast]~ A racist account based on the life of Marcus Garvey, black activist of the 1920's who advocated black superiority and suggested Blacks return to Africa. The story line is thin when a black con man named Charcoal (Played by A.B. De Comathiere) takes advantage of fellow citizens by staging a phony back-to-Africa movement. He is to become the Emperor of the United States of Africa. Of course his plan is to take the money and run all along. After the deal is set they all meet for a big parade. The Cast is gloriously robed in band outfits and has a grand parade. During the course of the movie the good guy's girl dumps him for Charcoal. Needless to say, she blows the whistle on him in the end and returns to the good guy. Johnny Lee (Calhoon from the Amos & Andy Show) is a riot playing the Count Of Zanzibar and the rest of the cast is great! This film, made by a White owned production company, smacked of racism. the Charcoal Character was in black face and often wore white gloves creating a minstrel like appearance. At times the cast, all in white gloves, shook them to the lord is a stereotypical style. The Parade, an important part of the movie, was done to the tune of "The March of the Wooden Soldiers" marginalizing it's impact I felt. In the end, neither Africa or their host town (Chicago I Think) wanted them so they used the money collected to "go back to where they came from" How symbolic is that?! All in all a great movie

Spirit of Youth [66 Min B&W]~ is a Hollywood version of fighter Joe Lewis, played by Joe Thomas, looking more like a young Mohammad Ali. The film takes us through his youth to his struggle to become somebody. While washing dishes he is discovered by his soon to become agent. He falls into the hands of shady folks that manipulate him to their advantage. He dumps his childhood sweetheart, smartly & elegantly played by Mae Turner for a dance hall Vamp played by Edna Harris. Needless to say he returns to Mae in the end. All in all a great film with a flawless jitterbug dance number spoiled only by Platinum's watermark.

The Glove [90 min that seemed like 3 hours! Color]~ This predominately white cast was dull and adding this to the line up is like putting one square tire on a Cadillac?! They must have got it for free or something?? Super poor quality film with lack luster performances Rosey Grier plays a crazed ex-con killer on the loose. We found the murder scenes amusing and at one point he rips apart a Ford Pinto with his bare hands, who in the 70's didn't want to do that at some point? Unfortunately we had to fast forward through some of the 1970's sexism and demeaning dialog. Not worth my time and having no relationship to the three other films
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 25, 2012
im sorry im a lover of classic films but this film was corny. I appreciate seeing the beautiful classy Lena Horne and the handsome and distinguished Ralph Cooper. Yet unless you want to see the two of them and have some classic footage its not that good.
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on November 27, 2012
There is only one race, the human race which we all came from, thus "race movies" is a misnomer! Here you get four films for the price of one admission. Today these films are cheaper than when they appeared on the silver screen in the 1930 and 1940s. "The Black King" starred Paul Robeson, for that film alone he should deserve a star on Hollywood's walk of fame! The other films are gems too, especially Duke Ellington and other jazz greats. Get these DVDs while you can and watch them often! Show them to generations who never saw them, let them see what it was like from the perspectice of those who lived then!
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on November 7, 2014
Thanxxx for having made these films available for personal ownership. I really really enjoyed them and a a record salesman for WEA
in NYC it was a blessing to see these productions. A must for every film library
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on May 31, 2013
It is so nice to see African Americans able to portray a wide range of images. In these movies some are negative, some positive, some comical and some serious, but....NO STEREOTYPES. Wonderful!
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on March 31, 2014
Funny...Good storylines, okay quality. I watched this with my grandkids. Old black in white, not in color. A must see for old black movie reference and history. Showed a little dark though.
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on August 12, 2013
I do enjoy watching African American movies made by African Americans for an African American audience, made during the pre-civil rights era.
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on May 12, 2014
Just watching Duke Ellington alone was worth this DVD. My husband got this for a gift because he really knows and loves Duke Ellington.
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