Midnight Ramble

image

MIDNIGHT RAMBLE:

Oscar Micheaux and the Story of Race Movies is a 1994 PBS documentary on the early history of Black American film from 1910 to 1950. Known as race movies, these films, independent of Hollywood, where made primarily by, for and about the Black Community. MR is a tribute to a film genre that lasted for more than forty years, produced over 500 movies, and created a foundation for contemporary films from directors such as Spike Lee, Julie Dash, Tyler Perry, Ava DuVernay and others. The late James L. Avery, narrates this exploration of the early black film industry.

There is a mistaken assumption that race films began largely in reaction to D. W. Griffith's 1915 The Birth of a Nation. Nothing could be further from the truth. Race movies actually began in 1910 in Chicago compliments of William Foster's, The Railroad Porter, in response to the Black Community's longing to see themselves reflected on the silver screen via the new medium of film. Wanting to see themselves through their own eyes, on their own terms thus counteracting the Hollywood stereotypes within American media.

MIDNIGHT RAMBLE focuses primarily on the work of Oscar Micheaux, considered the 'Dean of Black American Film,' a controversial filmmaker who wrote, produced, and directed over 40 features, and tackled difficult social issues relative to Black America. It includes clips from films by a number of African-American directors of the period, which is very helpful since many of these films are difficult to find or unavailable. There are two versions of the title of the documentary, both referring to the same work. Initially released in 1994 as, MIDNIGHT RAMBLE: Oscar Micheaux & the Story of Race Movies, it was re-released by PBS in 1995 as, MIDNIGHT RAMBLE: The History of Early Black American Film. The 1995 version also eliminates the David McCullugh introduction.