Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
The Gift That Keeps on Giving - Leaked Sony Email Challenges Denzel Washington's Overseas Box Office Appeal The Gift That Keeps on Giving - Leaked Sony Email Challenges Denzel Washington's Overseas Box Office Appeal Backlash Against New VH1 Series 'Sorority Sisters' Backlash Against New VH1 Series 'Sorority Sisters' Tessa Thompson Books Female Lead Role in Ryan Coogler's 'Creed' Opposite Michael B. Jordan Tessa Thompson Books Female Lead Role in Ryan Coogler's 'Creed' Opposite Michael B. Jordan Why Aren’t We Talking About the Sexual Assault in 'Beyond the Lights'? Why Aren’t We Talking About the Sexual Assault in 'Beyond the Lights'? Page to Screen Possibilities for Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's 'Americanah' (Lupita Nyong'o, David Oyelowo Starring) Page to Screen Possibilities for Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's 'Americanah' (Lupita Nyong'o, David Oyelowo Starring) David Oyelowo Joins Lupita Nyong’o in 'Americanah' Film Adaptation David Oyelowo Joins Lupita Nyong’o in 'Americanah' Film Adaptation Leaked Sony Emails Reveal Interest in Destiny's Child Biopic + Immersive Kanye West Feature Film Experience Leaked Sony Emails Reveal Interest in Destiny's Child Biopic + Immersive Kanye West Feature Film Experience Weekend B.O. Dec. 12-14 (So How’s That Boycott Working for Ya?) Weekend B.O. Dec. 12-14 (So How’s That Boycott Working for Ya?) FX Orders Comedy Pilot on Atlanta Hip-Hop Scene From & Starring Donald Glover FX Orders Comedy Pilot on Atlanta Hip-Hop Scene From & Starring Donald Glover Chadwick Boseman, David Oyelowo, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Rosario Dawson, Others Share Kisses in NY Times Shorts Chadwick Boseman, David Oyelowo, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Rosario Dawson, Others Share Kisses in NY Times Shorts What Sony Pictures Chief Amy Pascal Should Do if She Sincerely Wants to Make Amends What Sony Pictures Chief Amy Pascal Should Do if She Sincerely Wants to Make Amends Ava DuVernay Earns Her Way Into the History Books - First Black Woman Director to Be Nominated for a Golden Globe Award Ava DuVernay Earns Her Way Into the History Books - First Black Woman Director to Be Nominated for a Golden Globe Award Woody Allen Says He Won’t Hire a Black Actor Unless the Role Calls for One... Whatever That Means Woody Allen Says He Won’t Hire a Black Actor Unless the Role Calls for One... Whatever That Means Will You Join The Boycott 'Exodus' Movement? (Or You Don't Care) Will You Join The Boycott 'Exodus' Movement? (Or You Don't Care) My MoviePass Experience - What Works & What Could Be Improved (The Movie Theater Subscription Service) My MoviePass Experience - What Works & What Could Be Improved (The Movie Theater Subscription Service) Co-Screenwriter of 'Noah' Explains Why There Are No Black People Or POC In The Film Co-Screenwriter of 'Noah' Explains Why There Are No Black People Or POC In The Film Lifetime Launches New Series Set In Elite World Of Hip-Hop Majorette Competitions (Watch Preview) Lifetime Launches New Series Set In Elite World Of Hip-Hop Majorette Competitions (Watch Preview) Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Will Smith Explains Why Willow Smith Dropped Out Of 'Annie' Remake Will Smith Explains Why Willow Smith Dropped Out Of 'Annie' Remake Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie... Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie...

Paul Robeson Rarity 'Proud Valley' Airing on Turner Classic Movies This Thursday

Shadow and Act By Sergio | Shadow and Act April 1, 2013 at 12:20PM

Despite his many legendary accomplishments it's fair to say that Paul Robeson's film career was not stellar. And it’s not just me saying that. Robeson himself said on several occasions that his film career was more disappointing than he would have liked.
1
Proud Valley

Despite his many legendary accomplishments it's fair to say that Paul Robeson's film career was not stellar. And it’s not just me saying that. Robeson himself said on several occasions that his film career was more disappointing than he would have liked.

Of the 13 films he made from 1925 to his last film in 1942, before giving up on films altogether, many of them he, no doubt, went into with the best of intentions. But, they always fell into the usual trap of stereotypical portrayals and clichés.

One film in particular, the 1935 British film Sanders of the River was radically changed during post-production with re-shoots to make the film a stirring, jingoistic tribute to British colonialism in Africa, and made Robeson’s Nigerian tribal chief leader in the film more subservient to the white colonel Sanders character.

In fact Robeson reportedly walked out on the film at the London premiere and later tried to buy all existing prints of the film to prevent it from being shown, but failed. Though he later said about Sanders that "the imperialist plot had been placed in the plot during the last days five days of shooting...I was roped into the picture because I wanted to portray the culture of the African people and I committed a faux pas which convinced me that I had failed to weigh the problems of 150,000,000 native Africans...I hate the picture."

Of those 13 films he made, 7 were made in the U.K. from 1935 to 1940 (including Sanders) where Robeson was living at the time, but it is the last British film he made, Proud Valley, that he was most proudest, of all the films he made.

He said, of the film, that he wanted very much to make it since it would “depict the Negro as he really is—not the caricature he is always represented to be on the screen."  And the film definitely reflects Robeson's own political beliefs of brotherhood and the humanity of all races and cultures and his fervent leftist politics supporting the working man. Those very same beliefs which resulted in Robeson being hounded and persecuted by the U.S. Government during the 1950's “Red Scare.”

In the movie, Robeson plays a wanderer who winds up in a small Welsh mining town who becomes a miner and eventually the town’s hero. And of course with that magnificent voice of his, there’s no question that he also joins the town’s male choir. One of the highlights of the film involves a national chorus completion in which the town choir performs Deep River with Robeson as the lead soloist. No surprise that they win the contest.  (You can hear a recording of it below)

The film was the last of only three films directed by Pen Tennyson who went on to a major career as a film director until it was cut short at the outset of World War II. A commissioned officer in the Royal Navy, Tennyson was killed in a plane crash the year after the release of Proud Valley, while making an instructional film on location for the Navy.

And the film is actually based on a real black coal miner from West Virginia who found himself working as miner in a town in Wales.

Unlike his more popular earlier film, The Emperor Jones, Proud Valley is not seen much often, if at all. But this week you'll have a rare opportunity when it's shown on Turner Classic Movies cable channel this Thursday April 4 at 12:15PM (11:15PM Central time).

Here’s Deep River sung by Robeson:

This article is related to: TV News


Shadow & ActNewsletter