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HISTORY

The 26 Nov 1924 Var announced that filming had recently ended on Body and Soul, produced by the Micheaux Film Corp. in New York, and directed by Oscar Micheaux. The picture marked the theatrical debuts of Julia Theresa Russell and Paul Robeson, who was a well-known singer and stage actor at that time.
       The Apr 1926 Cine-Mudial listed the Micheaux Film Corporation address at 200 West 135th Street in New York City.
       Body and Soul, among the earliest films to feature an all-black cast, was restored by the George Eastman House and released on DVD by the Criterion Collection as part of Paul Robeson: Portraits of the Artist, a collection featuring essays on Robeson’s films, and interviews with film historians and the actor himself.
       Body and Soul was featured at the Twenty-Second Annual San Francisco Silent Film Festival on 2 Jun 2017. ... More Less

The 26 Nov 1924 Var announced that filming had recently ended on Body and Soul, produced by the Micheaux Film Corp. in New York, and directed by Oscar Micheaux. The picture marked the theatrical debuts of Julia Theresa Russell and Paul Robeson, who was a well-known singer and stage actor at that time.
       The Apr 1926 Cine-Mudial listed the Micheaux Film Corporation address at 200 West 135th Street in New York City.
       Body and Soul, among the earliest films to feature an all-black cast, was restored by the George Eastman House and released on DVD by the Criterion Collection as part of Paul Robeson: Portraits of the Artist, a collection featuring essays on Robeson’s films, and interviews with film historians and the actor himself.
       Body and Soul was featured at the Twenty-Second Annual San Francisco Silent Film Festival on 2 Jun 2017. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Cine-Mundial
Apr 1926
p. 266.
New York Age
14 Nov 1925
p. 9.
Pittsburgh Courier
14 Feb 1925
p. 3.
Variety
9 Nov 1927
p. 24.
Variety
26 Nov 1924
p. 1.
DETAILS
Release Date:
1925
Premiere Information:
Harlem, NY opening: 15 November 1925
Production Date:
completed in late-November 1924
Physical Properties:
Silent
Black and White
Length(in reels):
9
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In Tatesville, Georgia, a prisoner being transported to the North for extradition to Britain escapes and takes on the disguise of the Rt. Reverend Isiaah T. Jenkins. With his fiery sermons, Pastor Jenkins gains many followers in the small town, in particular, Sister Martha Jane, the hard-working mother of a young daughter named Isabelle. Jenkins is joined in Tatesville by Yellow-Curley Hinds, another criminal whom he knew in jail, and together they plan to swindle Jenkins' congregation by selling liquor at inflated prices and taking the parish's contributions. Martha Jane has been saving her hard-earned money, which she hides in a Bible, so that Isabelle and Pastor Jenkins can marry and buy a house, even though Isabelle is in love with a young man named Sylvester. When Isabelle learns of her mother's plans, she is horrified and calls Jenkins a drunk and a sinner. Angry at her daughter, Martha Jane leaves Isabelle alone in the house with Jenkins, despite the young girl's sobs, so that he can save her soul. Jenkins steals Martha Jane's money, then suggests that Isabelle take the blame and flee to Atlanta, as her mother would never believe that her dear pastor was the culprit. Isabelle does as Jenkins tells her, and after Martha Jane finds her daughter's note of confession, she forgives her in her heart and follows her to Atlanta where she finds her ill and living in poverty. Isabelle tells her mother the whole truth about the pastor, including the fact that he took advantage of her in a deserted cabin during a storm and forced her to reveal where the money was hidden, then take the blame for the theft. Martha ... +


In Tatesville, Georgia, a prisoner being transported to the North for extradition to Britain escapes and takes on the disguise of the Rt. Reverend Isiaah T. Jenkins. With his fiery sermons, Pastor Jenkins gains many followers in the small town, in particular, Sister Martha Jane, the hard-working mother of a young daughter named Isabelle. Jenkins is joined in Tatesville by Yellow-Curley Hinds, another criminal whom he knew in jail, and together they plan to swindle Jenkins' congregation by selling liquor at inflated prices and taking the parish's contributions. Martha Jane has been saving her hard-earned money, which she hides in a Bible, so that Isabelle and Pastor Jenkins can marry and buy a house, even though Isabelle is in love with a young man named Sylvester. When Isabelle learns of her mother's plans, she is horrified and calls Jenkins a drunk and a sinner. Angry at her daughter, Martha Jane leaves Isabelle alone in the house with Jenkins, despite the young girl's sobs, so that he can save her soul. Jenkins steals Martha Jane's money, then suggests that Isabelle take the blame and flee to Atlanta, as her mother would never believe that her dear pastor was the culprit. Isabelle does as Jenkins tells her, and after Martha Jane finds her daughter's note of confession, she forgives her in her heart and follows her to Atlanta where she finds her ill and living in poverty. Isabelle tells her mother the whole truth about the pastor, including the fact that he took advantage of her in a deserted cabin during a storm and forced her to reveal where the money was hidden, then take the blame for the theft. Martha Jane cradles her daughter in forgiveness, and shortly thereafter, Isabelle dies. Returning to Tatesville, Martha Jane goes to the church where a drunken Jenkins is giving his "Dry Bones in the Valley" sermon to the congregation. Martha Jane publicly accuses Jenkins of being her daughter's murderer, and the congregation turns upon him. That night, Jenkins, hunted by bloodhounds, arrives at Martha Jane's parlor and tells her that her pampering ruined him. When two church ladies, Sis Ca'line and Sis Lucy, arrive to offer help to Martha Jane, she hides Jenkins in the kitchen and sends them away. Forgiven by his accuser, but unrepentant, Jenkins takes refuge in the woods. When he encounters one of his pursuers, Jenkins knocks him unconscious and brutally kills the man. The next morning, Martha Jane awakens from her slumber to realize that the events she thought transpired the night before were actually part of a dream. Isabelle tells her that Sylvester has earned a handsome sum of money on a discovery that he has made. Although earlier Martha Jane had refused Sylvester's proposal to her daughter on the grounds that he was too poor, she now offers to give the couple the money in the Bible so that they can marry right away. A short time later, the happy newlyweds return from their honeymoon to Martha Jane's house, which the changed woman has redecorated and made fit for her dear daughter and new son-in-law. +

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.