Two-Gun Man from Harlem (1938)

Genres - Western  |   Sub-Genres - Early Black Cinema, Musical Western  |   Release Date - May 1, 1938 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 60 min.  |   Countries - USA  |  
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The first of three all-black music Westerns released by white-operated Sack Amusement Enterprises, Two Gun Man from Harlem was filmed at N.B. Murray's African-American dude ranch near Victorville, California, and starred popular black entertainer Herb Jeffries (who billed himself Herbert Jeffrey for the occasion). Slightly more adult in tone than the average B-Western, the film was made by veterans of the genre, including cameraman Marcel LePicard, production manager Al Lane and art director Vin Taylor. Jeffries played Bob Blake, a ranch foreman falsely accused of killing his boss, John Steele (Tom Southern) after spurning the man's flirtatious wife, Ruth (Mae Turner. Returning from a stay in New York's Harlem, Bob returns West in the guise of the Deacon, a former preacher turned killer and Bob's look-alike ("I preach the gospel, brother -- gun gospel!"). He arrives just in time to rescue Ruth, the only witness to her husband's killing and thus the sole person who can clear him, from suffering the same fate as her late spouse. Filmed on the very cheap, Two Gun Man from Harlem was enlivened by the presence of Matthew "Stymie" Beard, of Our Gang fame, as heroine Marguerite Whitten's kid brother, Mantan Moreland as Jeffries' comedic brother and Spencer Williams, the future "Andy" of television's Amos 'n Andy, as the killer's hired hand. Jeffries, whose rather wooden acting style was no worse than most B-Western heroes, sang his own I'm a Happy Cowboy accompanied by The Cats and the Fiddle, an African-American hillbilly group.

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go-west-young-man, traveling, west