Free and Equal (1924)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Melodrama  |   Run Time - 65 min.  |  
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This melodrama was made nine or ten years before its release, and one has to wonder why it was released at all. In the first three decades of the 1900s, the art of film was growing by leaps and bounds, so both the production and the exaggerated acting were very dated by 1925. The subject matter -- whether African-Americans could function in white society -- was not a popular one. Nowadays, the plot would make any but the most hardcore racist cringe. Northerner Judge Lowell (Charles K. French) believes that Negroes are the equals of whites and sets out to prove it by hiring an octoroon (Jack Richardson) as his secretary (apparently, trying to bring in a full-blooded African-American was beyond the sensibilities of 1910s Caucasians). The secretary turns out to be a rotten human being -- he commits bigamy by secretly marrying the judge's daughter (Gloria Hope), and then kills the maid. Judge Lowell comes to regret his idea, and the octoroon pays for his dastardly deeds.



daughter, equality, judge, racism