The Law of Contact

The Girl from Chicago (January 1, 1932)

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The Girl from Chicago
 

Released in 1932: A black Secret Service agent investigates and arrests a Mississipi man who oppresses the town, and then goes to Harlem with his new girlfriend and solves the murder of a numbers racket gangster.

Produced by Oscar Micheaux

Directed by Oscar Micheaux

The Actors: Carl Mahon (Alonzo White), Star Calloway (Norma Shepard), Alice B. Russell (Miss Warren, Alice was Oscar Micheaux's real-life wife), Eunice Brooks (Mary Austin), Minto Cato (Millie, Mary's sister), John Everett (Jeff Ballinger), Frank H. Wilson (Wade Washington), Cherokee Thornton (Ballinger's snitch), Grace Smith (Liza Hatfield, the good-times girl), Edwin Cary (numbers racket collector), 'Slick' Chester (unknown), Chick Evans (Old Man Ballinger), Buddy Harris (unknown), Juano Hernandez (Harlem crime boss Gomez)

 

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The Secret Service Agent Fights Crime in Mississippi and Harlem

President Abraham Lincoln and the U.S. Civil War ended slavery in America and the concept that no person could be owned by another person. The Emancipation Proclamation that ended slavery was issued in 1863, but it wasn’t until 1964, one hundred and one years later, that President Lyndon B. Johnson pushed a Civil Rights Act through Congress to begin giving African Americans the beginning of legal and equal rights with Caucasian Americans. Before 1964 it was perfectly legal to deny Americans of color service in any restaurant, store, or to attend schools of their choice.

As motion pictures were evolving, parts for black actors in Hollywood movies were mostly as shoe-shine boys, elevator operators, servants and other bit parts. It was impossible in 1932 for black actors to get meaningful acting experience on stage or in the movies. In many parts of the U.S. black Americans were not permitted to buy tickets and watch movies in the big movie theaters, so most black Americans in 1932 never saw a motion picture unless they lived in a large city, where there might have been a movie theater owned by a black man, serving the black neighborhoods.

Oscar Micheaux, producer and director of this movie, was born to a Kentucky slave who gained freedom when Abraham Lincoln abolished slavery. Oscar grew up on the farm outside of Chicago that his parents purchased after gaining their freedom from slavery. As an adult Oscar got jobs in the Chicago stock yards and steel mills, but quickly decided that the only way to get ahead was to own his own business.

In the early years of railroads Andrew Carnegie and George Pullman built and sold ‘Pullman Palace Cars’ to the railroads. These cars enabled wealthy travelers to eat, drink and sleep in luxurious style, served by African American porters. Oscar Micheaux got a job as a Pullman Porter, and he used that job to meet and befriend wealthy men who would teach him the principles of business.  Between 1918 and 1940 Micheaux produced what were known as ‘race films’ that were written, produced, and acted by an all African American cast and crew. He would advertise his films for the black theaters promising that black patrons could sit anywhere they pleased in the theater.

This movie was filmed before the censorship code that would change Hollywood movies, but the black cinema probably didn’t follow that code anyway. As a result, you will hear the word ‘damn’ like it was just another word, and you will hear the prostitute girl beg one of her boyfriends to hit her and beat her, because she loves him more every time he slaps her around. You'll hear him tell her that he only hits her when she really needs it, in this scene that was supposed to be a loving and tender scene! If you are interested in time-travel to another day and another time, with some very unique actors, pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn with plenty of warm melted butter drizzled over it and enjoy the show.

Alice B. Russell and Star Calloway
Alice B. Russell and Star Calloway
Star Calloway
Star Calloway
Carl Mahon and Eunice Brooks
Carl Mahon and Eunice Brooks
Carl Mahon and Grace Smith
Carl Mahon and Grace Smith
Frank H. Wilson and Grace Smith
Frank H. Wilson and Grace Smith
Carl Mahon and Star Calloway
Carl Mahon and Star Calloway
Carl Mahon and Star Calloway
Carl Mahon and Star Calloway
Carl Mahon
Carl Mahon
Cherokee Thornton
Cherokee Thornton
Eunice Brooks and Star Calloway
Eunice Brooks and Star Calloway
Frank H. Wilson
Frank H. Wilson
Frank H. Wilson and Eunice Brooks
Frank H. Wilson and Eunice Brooks
Frank H. Wilson
Frank H. Wilson
Grace Smith
Grace Smith
Grace Smith
Grace Smith
Grace Smith
Grace Smith
John Everett
John Everett
John Everett
John Everett
John Everett
John Everett
Star Calloway
Star Calloway
Star Calloway
Star Calloway
Star Calloway
Star Calloway