Travel Ideals in Film
Edited By Gemma Blackwood and Andrew McGregor
Chapter Eight: Scenes of Black Masculinity and Wanderlust: Gendered Mobility and Film Diaspora in The Emperor Jones
MICHAEL RA-SHON HALL
Scenes of Black Masculinity and Wanderlust: Gendered Mobility and Film Diaspora in The Emperor Jones
Robeson’s greatest contribution to black film history – and the aspect of his work that most disturbed American white moviegoers – was his proud, defiant portrait of the black man. In his best-known film, The Emperor Jones (1933), Robeson portrays O’Neill’s black man who refuses to kowtow to anyone – Brutus Jones, an arrogant, strong-willed braggart, who rises from Pullman porter to autocrat.
Donald Bogle, Toms, Coons, Mulattoes, Mammies, & Bucks, 2009
The climax of Jones’s death becomes a black social variant of the inevitability of Greek tragedy given new meaning through an artful use of environmentalism […] When Jones dies in a revolt, he is not a Pullman toady or a high-roller under the stairwell; he is a black king dying in pain and rage at his demeaning fall.
Thomas Cripps, Slow Fade to Black, 1993
The Emperor Jones is a 1933 film adaptation of the 1920 Eugene O’Neill play of the same title, directed by Dudley Murphy, featuring Paul Robeson, Ruby Elzy, Dudley Digges, Frank H. Wilson, and Fredi Washington. Loosely based on the O’Neill drama, the film follows Brutus Jones (Robeson) a newly hired Pullman porter from a rural town who leaves his wife Dolly (Elzy) to travel for work. Brutus quickly succumbs to ← 151 | 152 → vices of the big city, accidently stabs and...
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