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Body and Soul


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Product Details

  • Actors: Paul Robeson, Marshall Rogers, Lawrence Chenault, Chester A. Alexander, Walter Cornick
  • Directors: Oscar Micheaux
  • Writers: Oscar Micheaux
  • Producers: Oscar Micheaux
  • Format: Silent, NTSC
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • MPAA Rating: UNRATED
  • Studio: Chv Communications
  • VHS Release Date: Feb. 10 1998
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6304801904

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews

Format: VHS Tape
I would think long and hard before dishing out $30 for this movie, which is only for die-hard Paul Robeson fans, of whom I'm one. The video quality is very good, the sound is excellent, though I found the music jarring. At the beginning there is some very atmospheric slide guitar music, but this soon changes to a strange honky-tonk horn concert that doesn't match the action at all. The film was re-assembled out of 9 reels, of which only 8 were left, thanks to censorship. It has been re-assembled horribly. It simply doesn't make any sense. The continuity breaks down utterly in the last third of the movie. At one point money stolen from a Bible is gone. In the final scene it is back. The evil preacher beats a man seemingly to death, then disappears into the woods. A few seconds later the man comes back to life. We never see the evil preacher again. WHAT IS GOING ON HERE? Much of the action takes place in a single room. Michaux never seems to have heard of D.W. Griffith, moving camera, tracking shots. There is very little technique involved in the camerawork. Robeson is splendid, but he is only allowed to be splendid in about 10 minutes' worth of the film. I can't help thinking there was a fine, interesting movie here, but it has been glued back together so haphazardly and stupidly that it is practically impossible to follow. Again, it's fascinating to see Robeson playing a villain, something he wasn't allowed to do except in "Emperor Jones," for the rest of his career. But it is extremely difficult to make any rhyme or reason out of this movie. If you want 10 minutes of scattered shots of Robeson as a brilliant young actor just coming into his own, buy it. If you want a coherent movie, think twice.
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By Bonita L. Davis on Feb. 21 2002
Format: VHS Tape
Paul Robeson makes his debut on screen in this classic tale of a treacherous minister who takes advantage of a parishoner's daughter. Our premier actor does an admirable job in portraying this criminal cleric whose style and aura mesmerizes a flock which refuses to question his integrity.
Oscar Micheaux, one of the pioneers of African-American cinematography, does an outstanding job in using his skills in dealing with the controversial subject of clerical deceit. Originally censored in New York, Micheaux was forced to make cuts to make sure this piece made it to the screen. The present film that you see right now is a restoration of those cuts that were in the original shooting.
Although I enjoyed the film the technical problems stood out due to the restoration. Yet, this did not diminish the find performance of Robeson. As one who was not raised with silent films, Robeson's expressions and mannerisms fully conveyed the story. The fact of Robeson's playing two parts (the evil preacher and the good brother) bodes well for his verstility as an actor. This is a must have video for your collection of historical African-American silent film.
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Format: VHS Tape
This movie is excellent for a silent film. Paul Robeson is brilliant as the phony preacher who shamelessly takes advantage of the women in his congegation. The scene where Robeson rapes the daughter of his most devoted member is made all of the more horrfying by the look in Robeson's eyes as he approaches the young lady. The ugly fact is that there still are too may preachers like this in real life who exploit the faith of the less cynical, and Micheaux should have been commedned for telling the truth!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 8 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
CLASSIC DEBUT Feb. 21 2002
By Bonita L. Davis - Published on Amazon.com
Format: VHS Tape
Paul Robeson makes his debut on screen in this classic tale of a treacherous minister who takes advantage of a parishoner's daughter. Our premier actor does an admirable job in portraying this criminal cleric whose style and aura mesmerizes a flock which refuses to question his integrity.
Oscar Micheaux, one of the pioneers of African-American cinematography, does an outstanding job in using his skills in dealing with the controversial subject of clerical deceit. Originally censored in New York, Micheaux was forced to make cuts to make sure this piece made it to the screen. The present film that you see right now is a restoration of those cuts that were in the original shooting.
Although I enjoyed the film the technical problems stood out due to the restoration. Yet, this did not diminish the find performance of Robeson. As one who was not raised with silent films, Robeson's expressions and mannerisms fully conveyed the story. The fact of Robeson's playing two parts (the evil preacher and the good brother) bodes well for his verstility as an actor. This is a must have video for your collection of historical African-American silent film.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Tells the Truth about an important subject June 14 2001
By Andre M. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: VHS Tape
This movie is excellent for a silent film. Paul Robeson is brilliant as the phony preacher who shamelessly takes advantage of the women in his congegation. The scene where Robeson rapes the daughter of his most devoted member is made all of the more horrfying by the look in Robeson's eyes as he approaches the young lady. The ugly fact is that there still are too may preachers like this in real life who exploit the faith of the less cynical, and Micheaux should have been commedned for telling the truth!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
I'm sure it started out much better March 15 2005
By Anyechka - Published on Amazon.com
Format: VHS Tape
This film is of interest not just for Robeson's film debut but also because there aren't enough early films representing the African-American community with fairness and accuracy, unafraid to tackle tough issues like corruption in the clergy, for example, even though that might have been considered by some to reflect poorly on their people, honest or not. Unfortunately, due to first the severe editing and then the reconstruction, the story doesn't hold together as well or as grippingly as I'm sure it must originally have in the nine-reel format Micheaux created before he was ordered to censor it down to just five reels. I thought it was just taking awhile for the story to build up steam and to establish what was going on, but I still couldn't make out much of a coherent storyline. What is the main plotline supposed to be, and which of the storylines was meant to be the subplot? Is it the corrupt reverend (who doesn't get enough screentime) or Isabelle and her mother? It was finally really picking up steam and getting really interesting when it's conveniently revealed that it was just a dream, which was probably just as lame in 1925 as it is today. It's a shame, since it seemed like a really interesting gripping story with lots of potential, just was badly censored and edited and then put back together improperly. There also weren't enough title cards in some scenes (again possibly due to the censorship and re-editing). Probably another issue that was the result of the editing was how Yello-Curly (one of the ugliest most repulsive-looking people I've ever laid eyes on) is introduced like he's going to be this really important significant character, but this nasty-looking human being and his criminal alliance with the crooked preacher who has gotten out of jail is never really explored, and he disappears without explanation rather early on, getting even less screentime than the preacher and his twin brother Sylvester. It's a refreshing change to see an old film where African-Americans are depicted honestly, accurately, as both good people and bad people instead of being "represented" by whites in blackface or as caricatured characters in serving positions like a maid, railway porter, or nanny, but it just doesn't come across as masterfully as it probably did before Micheaux was ordered to censor it.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Hidden meaning April 11 2003
By "rappersdelight" - Published on Amazon.com
Format: VHS Tape
Even though the movie is about an ex-convict portraying a preacher who smokes drinks and other sinning ways. The movie had an hidden agenda. Ever action shot taken place at Isabella's house had pictures of W.E.B> DuBois, Frederick Douglass and Abe Lincoln. This was to say that slavery did happen and black people should accept that fact instead of acting like it never happened. The movie also had a concept of what is a good black man. Since Sylvester was a well to do educated man he seemed less worthy than the preacher, who was deemed higher social rank than Sylvester. The movie also had a strong message of a strong black woman. Isabella's mom did ever thing to support her daughter without the use of a man of any help. So at first view the movie might seemed bad, but look further and you will find a deeper hidden meaning.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Only for die-hard Robeson fans Feb. 7 2004
By Michael C. Browning - Published on Amazon.com
Format: VHS Tape
I would think long and hard before dishing out $30 for this movie, which is only for die-hard Paul Robeson fans, of whom I'm one. The video quality is very good, the sound is excellent, though I found the music jarring. At the beginning there is some very atmospheric slide guitar music, but this soon changes to a strange honky-tonk horn concert that doesn't match the action at all. The film was re-assembled out of 9 reels, of which only 8 were left, thanks to censorship. It has been re-assembled horribly. It simply doesn't make any sense. The continuity breaks down utterly in the last third of the movie. At one point money stolen from a Bible is gone. In the final scene it is back. The evil preacher beats a man seemingly to death, then disappears into the woods. A few seconds later the man comes back to life. We never see the evil preacher again. WHAT IS GOING ON HERE? Much of the action takes place in a single room. Michaux never seems to have heard of D.W. Griffith, moving camera, tracking shots. There is very little technique involved in the camerawork. Robeson is splendid, but he is only allowed to be splendid in about 10 minutes' worth of the film. I can't help thinking there was a fine, interesting movie here, but it has been glued back together so haphazardly and stupidly that it is practically impossible to follow. Again, it's fascinating to see Robeson playing a villain, something he wasn't allowed to do except in "Emperor Jones," for the rest of his career. But it is extremely difficult to make any rhyme or reason out of this movie. If you want 10 minutes of scattered shots of Robeson as a brilliant young actor just coming into his own, buy it. If you want a coherent movie, think twice.


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