The Tyler Black Film Collection

About the Collection

The G. William Jones Film & Video Collection is the repository of the collection of race films from the 1930s and 1940s. These films, on miraculously well-preserved nitrate stock, were transferred to safety film in 1985. With the advent of digital technology, this important collection of film history has been digitally restored. The collection is comprised of 6 short subjects, 9 features, and a set of newsreels, all produced between 1935 and 1956. The films are viewable online in our Digital Collections.

DVD Boxed Set

The 3-DVD boxed set, including 7 full-length films and 7 short subjects, is available for purchase. The set includes a narrative booklet and introductory commentary for each film. Out of stock.

Film Titles and Descriptions

Girl In Room 20

1946 / 4 reels / Black and White / 35mm / 64 minutes / Spencer Williams, Director

Cast: Geraldine Brock, July Jones, Spencer Williams

Synopsis: Daisy Mae Walker leaves her home in Prairieville, Texas to seek fame as a singer. In New York she gets involved with a low-life character, Arnold, who offers to get her a job with a band. Daisy's boyfriend arrives from Texas to save her from advances by Arnold, whose wife wounds Daisy by mistake. Daisy becomes a success, but her boyfriend convinces her to return with him to Texas.

Juke Joint

1947 / 4 reels / Black and White / 35mm / 70 minutes / Spencer Williams, Director; True T. Thompson, Writer

Cast: Spencer Williams, July Jones, Inez Newell, Melody Duncan, Katherine Moore. Specialty numbers in the film by Mac and Ace; Kit and Kat; Jitterbug Johnnies Music by Red Calhoun and his orchestra.

Synopsis: This feature presents Williams and Jones as down and out in the Great Southwest. They pose as theatrical experts and get free room and board in the Holliday home for helping Honeydew prepare to win a beauty pageant. Florida, the other daughter, is propositioned by the owner of a Juke Joint, who wants to take her to Chicago, but the two "theatrical experts" and Mama Lou's sense of righteousness keep the family intact.

Murder In Harlem (Alternate title: Lem Hawkin's Confession)

1935 / 6 reels / Black and White / 35mm / 102 minutes

Oscar Micheaux, Director; Oscar Micheaux, Writer (based on the novel, The Stansfield Murder Case).

Cast: Clarence Brooks, Dorothy Van Engle, Andrew Bishop, Alec Lovejoy

Synopsis: Henry Glory, a young writer and law student, is selling his own novel door to door (one of movie director Oscar Micheaux’s own practices). He is directed to see a young lady who may wish to buy one. In a mix up, he meets another girl, Claudia Vance, and promptly falls in love with her. In the complications that follow, Glory is told that Ms. Vance is wicked, and he leaves town, not knowing that it is a case of mistaken identity. Three years later, as a successful lawyer, Glory is contacted by Claudia to defend her brother, who has been framed on a murder charge. The confession of a porter clears the brother of the charge, and Glory and Claudia finally get together.

Vanities (Alternate Title: Harlem Hot Shots)

1946 / 1 reel / Black and White / 35mm / 10 minutes / William Alexander, Director

Cast: Charles Keith, Joesfred Portree, "Little Audrey" Armstrong

Synopsis: Charles Keith is the Master of Ceremonies of a night club act. He first impersonates Bette Davis, and this longish Bette Davis 'rap' gradually convinces us that we are not only hearing, but also seeing, the real Bette. Joesfred Portree sings "I love My Daddy But I've Got To Have My Fun" and "Little Audrey" Armstrong dances to "On The Solid Side".

By-Line Newsreels

1953-1956 / 4 reels / Black and White / 35mm / 10 minutes (each)

William Alexander, Producer

Synopsis: Each film contains subject matter dealing with African-American personalities:

  • In Washington D.C., black government officials in the Eisenhower administration are interviewed; Carmel Marr, UN employee, is interviewed at her desk.
  • In Washington, D.C., black government officials in the Justice Department and Veterans Administration are interviewed, as well as Samuel Pierce, the Undersecretary of Labor.
  • Interviewed are E. Frederick Morrow, one of President Eisenhower's top aides; Lois Lippman, the first black member of the White House staff; and Ernest Wilkins, the Assistant Secretary of Labor.
  • At the Republican National Convention in San Francisco, leading black Republicans are interviewed as they endorse the Eisenhower/Nixon ticket.

Boogie-Woogie Blues

1948 / 1 reel / Black and White / 35mm / 10 minutes / William Alexander, Producer

Synopsis: A 10-minute performance film featuring famous songstress Hadda Brooks, accompanying herself on the piano. Songs include "Don't Take Your Love From Me", and "Don't You Think I Ought To Know".

Midnight Shadow

1939 / 6 reels / Black and White / 35mm / 60 minutes / George Randol, Director

Synopsis: Prince Alihabad, visiting the Wilson family in the Old South, takes an interest in their daughter when he learns they have oil property in Texas, making Buster, her boyfriend, jealous. When Mr. Wilson is murdered and the land deed stolen, police accuse Buster, arguing he wants to incriminate the Prince. Amateur sleuths in the family track down the real murderer in Shreveport and Buster is freed.

Miracle In Harlem

1948 / 5 reels / Black and White / 35mm / 80 minutes / Jack Kemp, Director

Synopsis: Aunt Hattie, a religious and kindly old woman who operates a candy store with her niece, Julie, is swindled by a chain-store owner who tricks them out of the store. When he and his son are murdered, Julie is included as a suspect; finally it is revealed the murders were committed by the chain-store owner's secretary, who stood to inherit the business and its fortune.

Souls Of Sin

1949 / 4 reels / Black and White / 35mm / 65 minutes / Powell Lindsey, Director

Synopsis: "Dollar Bill" Burton, a gambler, lives in a Harlem basement apartment with Roberts, a hard-luck writer, and Alabama, a talented guitarist-singer. At a local bar, Bill is hired by Bad Boy George to sell stolen jewelry and takes an interest in Regina, George's girlfriend who helps Alabama get a break in television. Bill dies of gunshot wounds, but the other characters realize personal success. This film was William Alexander's last feature.

Where's My Man Tonight?

1943 / 4 reels / Black and White / 35mm / 72 minutes / Spencer Williams, Director

Synopsis: As World War II breaks out, young Rodney is reluctant to enlist, in spite of the militaristic exhortations of his Grandpa. Finally, he is drafted and does basic training at an Arizona desert camp. While accused of going AWOL, he stumbles on a nest of Japanese spies, whom he captures with the feisty aid of Grandpa, who just happened to be on his way for a visit. Grandpa dies, but Rodney is feted as a hero.

Broken Earth

1939 / 1 reel / Black and White / 35mm / 10 minutes / Roman Freulich, Director

Synopsis: A short dramatic film starring Clarence Muse. Muse plays a hard-working farmer whose son is stricken with fever.