The Life and Work of Oscar Micheaux
By Earl James Young
Publisher: KMT Publications
Pub Date: March
Decades before film directors Spike Lee, John Singleton or even Gordon Parks showed audiences that blacks can be more than just cut-out characters and racial punch lines, visionary film director Oscar Micheaux had made movies featuring African-American cowboys, adventurers, detectives and millionaires --- more than 70 years ago.
"The Life and Work of Oscar Micheaux" became the subject of late author Earl James Youngs graduate thesis because he was an admirer of Micheauxs pioneer spirit. Micheaux was the first filmmaker to offer his audience a range and diversity of African-Americans in film. Micheaux became a controversial figure raising the ire of blacks as well as whites for filming what he wanted, not what others felt he should.
Micheaux fought an uphill battle to get his films shown. White distributors would not market films by blacks, so Micheaux was only allowed to show his films at African-American theaters. In addition, Hollywood jumped on the African-American band wagon and created African-American films superior in quality to Micheauxs and other Indy filmmakers. Micheaux stayed with it but struggled until his death in 1951.
Young dedicated his research to Micheaux life, because he understood the pain of having a gift, but lacking the opportunity to give ones all to a career. However, Young died in 1993 of a brain tumor before publishing his thesis into a book.
With the permission of Youngs family, Dr. Beverly J. Robinson has edited Youngs thesis into a compelling and essential book for up and coming filmmakers and movie buffs about Micheauxs 40 plus films which made him hero to some and a victim to others. "The Life and Work of Oscar Micheaux" includes a complete filmography of Micheauxs films and bios of the actors who appeared in Micheauxs films --- some such as William Fountaine and Evelyn Preer who went onto star in Hollywood productions.
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