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HISTORY

On 27 Feb 1923, Film Daily announced African American filmmaker Oscar Micheaux’s newest release, Deceit, as “the first all-negro production.” According to Henry T. Sampson’s 1977 book, Blacks in Black and White: A Source Book on Black Films, filming had begun on 6 Jun 1921 at the Esste Studios in New York City. The book noted parallels between the plot and Micheaux’s real-life experience with the Chicago Board of Censors upon the release of his 1920 picture, Within Our Gates (see entry).
       Deceit began a three-day engagement in late Feb 1923 at the New Douglas Theatre in New York City. Months later, an item in the 19 Oct 1923 [Baltimore, MD] Afro-American touted a 22 Oct 1923 opening at Baltimore’s Regent Theatre. In his “Motion Picture News” column published in the 1 Dec 1923 Chicago Defender, D. Ireland Thomas, owner of the Lincoln Theater in Charleston, SC, complained that Micheaux had failed to deliver a print of Deceit for a 19-20 Nov 1923 engagement at Thomas’s theater. In the 29 Dec 1923 Chicago Defender, Thomas recounted a more recent incident with a film print that had not shown up in Jacksonville, FL, for a 10-11 Dec 1923 run at the New Frolic Theatre, and stated: “I sincerely hope [Micheaux] will get the tangle unraveled that is in his distributing department.”
       The film was still in release as of fall 1924, according to a 26 Sep 1924 advertisement in the [Topeka, KS] Topeka Plaindealer for a 1-2 Oct 1924 engagement at the Apex Theatre.

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On 27 Feb 1923, Film Daily announced African American filmmaker Oscar Micheaux’s newest release, Deceit, as “the first all-negro production.” According to Henry T. Sampson’s 1977 book, Blacks in Black and White: A Source Book on Black Films, filming had begun on 6 Jun 1921 at the Esste Studios in New York City. The book noted parallels between the plot and Micheaux’s real-life experience with the Chicago Board of Censors upon the release of his 1920 picture, Within Our Gates (see entry).
       Deceit began a three-day engagement in late Feb 1923 at the New Douglas Theatre in New York City. Months later, an item in the 19 Oct 1923 [Baltimore, MD] Afro-American touted a 22 Oct 1923 opening at Baltimore’s Regent Theatre. In his “Motion Picture News” column published in the 1 Dec 1923 Chicago Defender, D. Ireland Thomas, owner of the Lincoln Theater in Charleston, SC, complained that Micheaux had failed to deliver a print of Deceit for a 19-20 Nov 1923 engagement at Thomas’s theater. In the 29 Dec 1923 Chicago Defender, Thomas recounted a more recent incident with a film print that had not shown up in Jacksonville, FL, for a 10-11 Dec 1923 run at the New Frolic Theatre, and stated: “I sincerely hope [Micheaux] will get the tangle unraveled that is in his distributing department.”
       The film was still in release as of fall 1924, according to a 26 Sep 1924 advertisement in the [Topeka, KS] Topeka Plaindealer for a 1-2 Oct 1924 engagement at the Apex Theatre.

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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Afro-American [Baltimore, MD]
19 Oct 1923
Section A, p. 5
Birmingham News [Birmingham, AL]
15 Jul 1924
p. 13
Chicago Defender
1 Dec 1923
p. 6
Chicago Defender
29 Dec 1923
p. 4
Film Daily
27 Feb 1923
p. 4
Topeka Plaindealer [Topeka, KS]
26 Sep 1924
p. 4
DETAILS
Release Date:
1 March 1923
Premiere Information:
New York opening: late Feb 1923; Baltimore, MD, opening: 22 Oct 1923; Birmingham, AL, opening: 16 Jul 1924; Topeka, KS, opening: 1 Oct 1924
Production Date:
began 6 Jun 1921
Physical Properties:
Silent
Black and White
Length(in reels):
6
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

Alfred Dubois and his charming secretary organize a film production company. Their first film is entitled The Hypocrite. All goes well with the production until Dubois must show his film to the censor board, which includes a delegation of preachers headed by the recalcitrant and conservative Christian P. Bently. Upon viewing the film, Bently expresses violent disapproval and persuades the censors to reject it. Dubois is persistent, though, and appeals to the board to screen the film for a less biased audience to decide if the sequence in question warrants the film's rejection. The film is projected as the new committee members look ...

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Alfred Dubois and his charming secretary organize a film production company. Their first film is entitled The Hypocrite. All goes well with the production until Dubois must show his film to the censor board, which includes a delegation of preachers headed by the recalcitrant and conservative Christian P. Bently. Upon viewing the film, Bently expresses violent disapproval and persuades the censors to reject it. Dubois is persistent, though, and appeals to the board to screen the film for a less biased audience to decide if the sequence in question warrants the film's rejection. The film is projected as the new committee members look on.

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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.