Body and Soul (1925)

Rated NR 65 minutes

Written and directed by independent auteur Oscar Micheaux, the low-budget silent film Body and Soul is significant as the film debut of actor Paul Robeson. He leads the largely African-American cast as the Reverend Isaiah T. Jenkins, a minister who lies, cheats, and steals. He's really an escaped convict and con artist posing as a Reverend. Even though he takes his flask with him to church, his followers believe in him. An upstanding member of the congregation, Martha Jane (Julia Theresa Russell), encourages her daughter, Isabelle (Mercedes Gilbert), to accept him as a suitor. Meanwhile, Jenkins' poor but honest twin brother Sylvester (also Robeson) also courts Isabelle as well. Inevitably, the bad twin Jenkins steals Isabelle's life savings and she flees to Atlanta. The National Board of Review disapproved of a clergyman as an evil character and Micheaux was running out of money, so the conclusion is a tacked-on it was all just a dream ending.~ Andrea LeVasseur, All Movie Guide

Film Credits

Director: Oscar Micheaux

Writer: Oscar Micheaux

Cast: Paul Robeson, Mercedes Gilbert, Julia Theresa Russell, Lawrence Chenault, Marshall Rogers, Lillian Johnson and Madame Robinson

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