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HISTORY

The 23 February 1924 [Norfolk, VA] New Journal and Guide claimed that Norman Film Mfg. Co., based in Jacksonville, FL, was the only film company making African American films to own its own studio and laboratory, at that time. Although company founder Richard E. Norman was white, the studio exclusively made films for an African American audience, using African American casts. According to the Norman Studios Silent Film Museum, shooting took place sometime in 1923 in the Mayport community of Jacksonville. The production utilized nine different sets and, according to a 1998 issue of Griffithiana, an actual two-masted schooner that was set ablaze at sea. Norman reportedly wrote to a friend that he planned “to work in several nude and artistic bathing scenes on the desert island that will not offend and can be nicely removed [for] censorship.” A 19 September 1924 letter from New York State’s Motion Picture Commission to Norman Film Mfg. Co. requested that a fight scene in Reel 3 be shortened, as it might “tend to incite crime,” but otherwise no edits were requested.
       The film was released in late December 1923. Shortly after, the 23 February 1924 New Journal and Guide reported “very satisfactory box-office figures,” and months later, a column by D. Ireland Thomas in the 6 September 1924 Chicago Defender stated that the film had recently opened to “very big business” in Charleston, SC.
       In their 2016 book, Oscar Micheaux and His Circle: African-American Filmmaking and Race Cinema of the Silent Era, authors Charles Musser, Pearl Bowser, and Jane Marie Gaines noted that actress Edna Norton unsuccessfully “negotiated for a role” in ...

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The 23 February 1924 [Norfolk, VA] New Journal and Guide claimed that Norman Film Mfg. Co., based in Jacksonville, FL, was the only film company making African American films to own its own studio and laboratory, at that time. Although company founder Richard E. Norman was white, the studio exclusively made films for an African American audience, using African American casts. According to the Norman Studios Silent Film Museum, shooting took place sometime in 1923 in the Mayport community of Jacksonville. The production utilized nine different sets and, according to a 1998 issue of Griffithiana, an actual two-masted schooner that was set ablaze at sea. Norman reportedly wrote to a friend that he planned “to work in several nude and artistic bathing scenes on the desert island that will not offend and can be nicely removed [for] censorship.” A 19 September 1924 letter from New York State’s Motion Picture Commission to Norman Film Mfg. Co. requested that a fight scene in Reel 3 be shortened, as it might “tend to incite crime,” but otherwise no edits were requested.
       The film was released in late December 1923. Shortly after, the 23 February 1924 New Journal and Guide reported “very satisfactory box-office figures,” and months later, a column by D. Ireland Thomas in the 6 September 1924 Chicago Defender stated that the film had recently opened to “very big business” in Charleston, SC.
       In their 2016 book, Oscar Micheaux and His Circle: African-American Filmmaking and Race Cinema of the Silent Era, authors Charles Musser, Pearl Bowser, and Jane Marie Gaines noted that actress Edna Norton unsuccessfully “negotiated for a role” in the picture.
Larry Richards’s 1998 book, African American Films Through 1959, includes Carey Brooks in the cast. However, as there is no mention of this actor in other available sources, the name may have been misinterpreted from a headline in the 15 November 1924 [Baltimore, MD] Afro-American, which read, “Carey Books a New Colored Film.” It referred to the Carey Theatre, where the picture was to open two days later.
       An eleven-minute section of Regeneration was restored and included in an anthology series, titled Pioneers of African-American Cinema, which was theatrically released in 2015 and distributed on home video in July 2016 by Kino Lorber.
       According to the Library of Congress American Silent Feature Film Survival Database, portions of this film are extant.

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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Afro-American [Baltimore, MD]
15 Nov 1924
Section A, p. 7
Afro-American [Baltimore, MD]
15 Nov 1924
p. 7
Billboard
17 Nov 1923
---
Chicago Defender
2 Feb 1924
p. 6
Chicago Defender
9 Aug 1924
p. 6
Chicago Defender
6 Sep 1924
p. 6
Griffithiana
1998
p. 121
New Journal and Guide [Norfolk, VA]
23 Feb 1924
pp. 4-5
DETAILS
Release Date:
24 December 1923
Premiere Information:
Jacksonville, FL opening: 24 Dec 1923; Baltimore, MD, opening: 17 Nov 1924
Production Date:
1923
Physical Properties:
Silent
Black and White
Length(in feet):
4,820
Length(in reels):
5-6
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

“Violet Daniels, the only child of a widowed sea captain, is left an orphan by the death of her father. He leaves her a strange legacy in the way of a map showing the location of buried treasure on an island in the South Pacific. Jack Roper, who owns the fishing schooner, ‘Anna Bell,’ is in love with Violet. She enlists his aid to search for the Treasure Island. ‘Knife’ Hurley, Mate of Jack’s fishing schooner, is a villain who has managed to collect the scum of the waterfront for the Anna Bell’s crew, with the intention of seizing the Treasure Chart and getting the treasure for himself. A fight ensues in mid-ocean over possession of the Treasure Chart. A binnacle lamp is overturned and the ship is set afire. Knife Hurley secures the Treasure Chart and escapes with his crew in the only life boat, leaving Jack and Violet to perish. They construct a raft and launch it, saving themselves from the blazing ship. After drifting for days on the sea and enduring hardships from thirst and hunger, Jack and Violet are cast upon an uninhabited island. Naming the island ‘Regeneration,’ they lived on it like Robinson Crusoe. By a strange trick of fate, Hurley and his cut-throat crew land on the island of Regeneration and discover that it is the Treasure Island. The ensuing scenes furnish a picture of thrilling suspense amid a romantic setting.” ([Baltimore, MD] Afro-American, 15 Nov 1924, p. ...

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“Violet Daniels, the only child of a widowed sea captain, is left an orphan by the death of her father. He leaves her a strange legacy in the way of a map showing the location of buried treasure on an island in the South Pacific. Jack Roper, who owns the fishing schooner, ‘Anna Bell,’ is in love with Violet. She enlists his aid to search for the Treasure Island. ‘Knife’ Hurley, Mate of Jack’s fishing schooner, is a villain who has managed to collect the scum of the waterfront for the Anna Bell’s crew, with the intention of seizing the Treasure Chart and getting the treasure for himself. A fight ensues in mid-ocean over possession of the Treasure Chart. A binnacle lamp is overturned and the ship is set afire. Knife Hurley secures the Treasure Chart and escapes with his crew in the only life boat, leaving Jack and Violet to perish. They construct a raft and launch it, saving themselves from the blazing ship. After drifting for days on the sea and enduring hardships from thirst and hunger, Jack and Violet are cast upon an uninhabited island. Naming the island ‘Regeneration,’ they lived on it like Robinson Crusoe. By a strange trick of fate, Hurley and his cut-throat crew land on the island of Regeneration and discover that it is the Treasure Island. The ensuing scenes furnish a picture of thrilling suspense amid a romantic setting.” ([Baltimore, MD] Afro-American, 15 Nov 1924, p. 7)

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GENRE
Genre:
Sub-genre:
African American, Sea, Island


Subject

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.