TEN MINUTES TO LIVE (1932), 58 Min. Written, produced and directed by Oscar Micheaux. Photographed by Lester Lang. With Lawrence Chenault (Gary Martin), Willor Lee Guilford (Letha Watkins), Lorenzo Tucker (The Godfather), Laura Bowman (Ida Morton), Tressie Mitchell (Charlotte Evans), Donald Heywood
(Master of Ceremonies). Mastered in 2K from 35mm film elements preserved by The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Resisting the stagebound atmosphere of The Exile, Micheaux found ways to shoot a talking picture on location, without cumbersome and expensive audio recording equipment. He did this by making one of his characters deaf (rendering dialogue unnecessary) and having much dialogue spoken off-camera (so it could be dubbed later). At times, these devices are clumsily executed but they prove Micheaux had a more canny understanding of the medium than he is often given credit for having. Other highlights are a blackface comedy routine by Galle De Gaston and George Williams, and an unexpectedly provocative performance of Duke Ellington’s “Diga Diga Doo” by a bevy of feathered Cotton Club chorines.
"Pioneers Of African-American Cinema is also hugely impressive. No wonder Martin Scorsese is proudly touting this set with a quote on the front of it: this is an historic release. Yes, it’s important and scholarly and worthy of praise. But with a dozen feature length films and more than 20 shorts and fragments, just a small sampling makes clear that it’s damn entertaining. Paul Robeson is just one of the many notable names appearing in or contributing to the wide range of movies, including melodramas, westerns, comedies, musicals and more."
"This very special collection illuminates one of the most fascinating and unjustly neglected corners of American movie history. Every film included in Pioneers of African-American Cinema has been lovingly restored, and every one is essential viewing."
"From the perspective of cinema history — and American history, for that matter — there has never been a more significant video release than 'Pioneers of African-American Cinema.'”
"The new five-disk set 'Pioneers of African-American Cinema' (Kino Classics) is a landmark in the history of the art form..."
"'Pioneers of African-American Cinema' is an essential and groundbreaking Blu-ray set. It's more than worthy to be considered one of the most important and valuable releases of the year, as it brings to light an important aspect of black and cinema history that must not be forgotten or ignored."
"One of the year’s most exciting and historically significant archival projects"
THE BOSTON HERALD
"Fascinating cinematic history...a look at independent cinema before that term came to suggest movies that would be film festival favorites at Sundance, Telluride and elsewhere."
RogerEbert.com (Blu-ray review):
"one of the most important and valuable releases of the year"
"This is an historic release. ...for all its landmark status it’s a pleasure to report that your first real response will simply be pleasure...No wonder Martin Scorsese is proudly touting this set with a quote on the front of it: this is an historic release."
"Kino Lorber's Pioneers of African-American Cinema set is ready to dazzle film buffs with its extraordinary archive of rarely seen cinematic treasures."
"Starting in 1915 and going through the early 1940's this set not only gives film buffs a chance to see what movies African-Americans were making, but also to see what they had to say about their society....This is a great collection.... Highly Recommended."
"The new box set is both a necessary contextualization of a cinematic movement and a counter-narrative to American film history."
"I was blown-away by this package and watched transfixed hour after hour... Very strongly recommended - especially to fans who may not be initially interested - there is an absolute treasure-trove of value here."
"This collection of films is a must own for cinephiles, and a worthwhile purchase for those with other sociological interests."
IN THESE TIMES
"Rough, passionate and unconcerned with Hollywood conventions, these films constitute a bedrock of pre-civil rights era culture...A fastidious and earnest piece of history-keeping, with a plethora of newly commissioned essays, documentaries and musical scores."
Directed by Richard Norman, Richard Maurice, Spencer Williams and Oscar Micheaux