The Blood of Jesus (April 26, 1941)
Released on April 26, 1946: When a young wife is accidentally killed by her husband, she must decide whether to spend her eternity in Heaven or Hell.
Produced by Spencer Williams
Directed by Spencer Williams
Written by Langston Hughes and Spencer Williams
The Actors: Cathryn Caviness (Sister Martha Ann Jackson), Spencer Williams (Razz Jackson), Juanita Riley (Sister Jenkins), Reather Hardeman (Sister Ellerby), Rogenia Goldthwaite (the angel), James B. Jones (satan), Frank H. McClennan (Judas Green), Eddie DeBase (Rufus Brown), Alva Fuller (Luke Willows), R.L. Robertson (Reverend R.L. Robertson)
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The Devil, You Say . . . Run, Child Run, Don't Let Him Catch You!
As our adventure opens we are watching a group of African-American church folk follow their pastor to the river’s edge for a baptismal service. Among others being baptized this day is young Martha Ann Jackson, a new bride. Her husband Razz is not among the people gathered on the shore to watch the baptism. While she is being baptized, her husband is hunting for rabbit or whatever he can find because the kitchen cupboard is bare.
It turns out that he has shot a fat pig that belongs to a neighbor while his new wife is being baptized. At home after the service, husband Jass is feeling guilty over killing someone else’s hog, but without it there would be no food. Newly baptized Martha Ann chides him for killing someone else’s hog, and then, suddenly, Jazz drops his rifle to the floor and it fires, hitting his young wife. The bullet goes through her and into a picture of Jesus hanging on the wall.
Jazz puts his wife in bed and the neighbors arrive to tend to his wounded wife, but she will soon die, and the sheet will be pulled over her head. Then an Angel from Heaven arrives to send the soul of the dead woman on to her reward. The angel takes her to a cemetery where many souls are wandering, explaining that their destination has not yet been determined.
The Angel points to the pathway ahead, telling her that when she comes to the crossroads, she can turn to the right and enter Heaven, or turn to the left and enter Hell. As the young woman is walking towards the crossroads she is approached by a fellow who will try to tempt her into a future in Hell. He will show her the pleasures that can be had if she will only embrace a wild and wicked lifestyle. Will she follow wild and wicked ways, or run like lightning towards the path to glory?
Alfred Nathaniel Sack produced and promoted many of the Black Cinema movies from the 1930’s and 1940’s, and he handled the promotion and distribution of this movie that was paid for by Spencer Williams, who plays the part of Martha Ann’s husband. Considered one of the most important stories from the era of Black Cinema, this movie was the first movie with an all-Black cast that was added to the U.S. National Film Registry. Pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn with plenty of warm melted butter drizzled over it and enjoy the show.
Cathryn Caviness is baptized by Reverend R.L. Robertson
Cathryn Caviness meets Frank H. McClennan
Frank H. McClennan and Cathryn Caviness
Frank H. McClannan and Eddie DeBase
Frank H. McClennan
Gussie Smith singing
James B. Jones and Frank H. McClennan
James B. Jones
Reather Hardeman and Juanita Riley
Roginia Goldthwaite, Cathryn Caviness and Spencer Williams