Deceit (1923)

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Produced and directed by African-American entrepreneur Oscar Micheaux, this drama about the making of a "Negro film" closely parallelled Within Our Gates (1920) in the matter of his own censorship trouble. Alfred Dubois (Norman Johnstone) and his lovely secretary Doris Rutledge (Evelyn Preer) produce the film "The Hypocrite." A Baptist minister, Bently (A.B. Comathiere), takes umbrage to certain scenes, including a lynching, and demands cuts. Dubois appeals to the common sense and a group of open minded people view the film, which they subsequently judge of the highest caliber. In the film-within-the-film, Preer plays a nice schoolteacher who is convinced to leave her rancher husband in favor of living on the wild side in Chicago. In one scene, Preer and Cleo Desmond, who played Charlotte Chesbro, were supposed to have staged a fight. As Preer later recalled: "I believe in being realistic, so I really hit her, which made her forget we were only playing. I'm telling you she became a sash-weight to me right there. And oh, how we fought. For two days I saw my teeth prints on her fingers!"