Harlem Is Heaven (1932)

69 mins | Musical | 1932

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HISTORY

Although the onscreen credits contain a 1932 copyright statement, no indication of the film's registration for copyright has been found. Modern sources indicate that the picture was also known as Harlem Rhapsody . This film was the first produced by Lincoln Pictures, Inc., a company organized by producer Jack Goldberg in the early 1930s. Although it was run by whites, Lincoln specialized in films for black audiences. The company, which was also called Lincoln Productions, had no relation to the Lincoln Motion Picture Company. A 21 Mar 1932 FD news item noted that the picture, which had been completed, was being edited at the H. E. R. Laboratories and would be ready for release on 31 Mar. According to the Var review, the picture, which cost less than $50,000 to make, made over $4,000 during its opening week at the Renaissance theater in Harlem and was held over. The Var review also notes that the "makers" of the picture were Irving Yates and the partnership of Tishman & O'Neal, former vaudeville agents, and that the picture was filmed in one week at the Ideal Studios in New Jersey and at various East coast theatres, including the Ideal Theater in Philadelphia and the R.K.O. Kenmore Theater in Brooklyn. The onscreen credits acknowledge the appearance of Boyer, Wessell, Smith, Sawyer, Baskette and Eubie Blake as having been "by special arrangement with 'Cotton ClubClub,' Harlem." According to the file for the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, Harlem Is Heaven was issued a tentative certificate number (02816) pending the production company's ... More Less

Although the onscreen credits contain a 1932 copyright statement, no indication of the film's registration for copyright has been found. Modern sources indicate that the picture was also known as Harlem Rhapsody . This film was the first produced by Lincoln Pictures, Inc., a company organized by producer Jack Goldberg in the early 1930s. Although it was run by whites, Lincoln specialized in films for black audiences. The company, which was also called Lincoln Productions, had no relation to the Lincoln Motion Picture Company. A 21 Mar 1932 FD news item noted that the picture, which had been completed, was being edited at the H. E. R. Laboratories and would be ready for release on 31 Mar. According to the Var review, the picture, which cost less than $50,000 to make, made over $4,000 during its opening week at the Renaissance theater in Harlem and was held over. The Var review also notes that the "makers" of the picture were Irving Yates and the partnership of Tishman & O'Neal, former vaudeville agents, and that the picture was filmed in one week at the Ideal Studios in New Jersey and at various East coast theatres, including the Ideal Theater in Philadelphia and the R.K.O. Kenmore Theater in Brooklyn. The onscreen credits acknowledge the appearance of Boyer, Wessell, Smith, Sawyer, Baskette and Eubie Blake as having been "by special arrangement with 'Cotton ClubClub,' Harlem." According to the file for the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, Harlem Is Heaven was issued a tentative certificate number (02816) pending the production company's adherence to the Hays Office's demands regarding specific changes in the script. Modern sources include Juano Hernandez in the cast. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Film Daily
21 Mar 32
p. 8.
Variety
7 Jun 32
p. 20.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Harlem Rhapsody
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 27 May 1932
Production Date:
at Ideal Studios (Hudson Heights, New Jersey)
Physical Properties:
Sound
Moviegraph Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
69
Length(in reels):
8
Country:
United States
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

After praying at the famous Tree of Hope for a job, Jean Stratton asks people on the street how long she has to pray at the tree before she gets work. A crowd soon gathers, and a police officer begins to arrest Jean until the wealthy Money Johnson intercedes and offers her a job at his new Acme Theatre. The next day, Bill, one of Johnson's employees, begs for money for food from the stage manager, telling him that he lost all his money gambling. Meanwhile, in his office, Johnson dictates to his secretary, Miss West, a letter to a man named Wolf, which discusses the chiselling away of Johnson's Philadelphia business by a man named Moran in Harlem. After instructing Wolf to threaten the chisellers with death, Johnson eyes Miss West's legs and then makes a pass at her. Their subsequent kiss is interrupted by Jean, to whom Johnson relates the story of his rise to success. Johnson then warns Jean to never double-cross him and to always agree with him. When Jean is taken to meet Bill, she is introduced as Johnson's protégée. Bill and his pal, Chummy Walker, tell Jean that she must repay her debt to Johnson, and then take her to their boardinghouse, where she will be staying. On the day of the dress rehearsal, Johnson warns Walker to stay away from Jean and then sends out an invitation to her for a "private party" in his office. Meanwhile, in the dressing room, Bill brings Jean flowers and she kisses him. On his way out, Bill encounters Walker and tells him that Jean loves him, and ... +


After praying at the famous Tree of Hope for a job, Jean Stratton asks people on the street how long she has to pray at the tree before she gets work. A crowd soon gathers, and a police officer begins to arrest Jean until the wealthy Money Johnson intercedes and offers her a job at his new Acme Theatre. The next day, Bill, one of Johnson's employees, begs for money for food from the stage manager, telling him that he lost all his money gambling. Meanwhile, in his office, Johnson dictates to his secretary, Miss West, a letter to a man named Wolf, which discusses the chiselling away of Johnson's Philadelphia business by a man named Moran in Harlem. After instructing Wolf to threaten the chisellers with death, Johnson eyes Miss West's legs and then makes a pass at her. Their subsequent kiss is interrupted by Jean, to whom Johnson relates the story of his rise to success. Johnson then warns Jean to never double-cross him and to always agree with him. When Jean is taken to meet Bill, she is introduced as Johnson's protégée. Bill and his pal, Chummy Walker, tell Jean that she must repay her debt to Johnson, and then take her to their boardinghouse, where she will be staying. On the day of the dress rehearsal, Johnson warns Walker to stay away from Jean and then sends out an invitation to her for a "private party" in his office. Meanwhile, in the dressing room, Bill brings Jean flowers and she kisses him. On his way out, Bill encounters Walker and tells him that Jean loves him, and Walker congratulates him. During a dance number, Johnson receives a telephone call from a woman named Greta Rae, who wants to see him. Johnson tells her that he does not have time for her, but when Greta threatens to go to the district attorney with information about his new policy racket, he changes his mind. Later, when Walker tells Jean that she is not safe under Johnson's supervision and that she should leave, she insists that she can take care of herself. Walker insists that she go and tells her that he cannot stand up to Johnson in a fight, which results in Jean calling him a coward and marching off to Johnson's office. In the office, Johnson makes advances toward Jean, but she resists. When Bill bursts into Johnson's office and demands that Jean leave with him, Johnson threatens him, and the two men fight. Bill wins and he and Jean leave. The next morning, after Bill and Jean are expelled from Johnson's club, they resolve to find other jobs. A month passes, during which Walker becomes a drunk and Bill and Jean live together. One day, Bill receives a letter from Walker, who writes that he "can't go on this way," and that he is leaving. Bill, who is now working at Moran's theatre, goes to a bar with his friend Spider, where he sees Walker, who is drunk, and they take him to Bill's home. Later, Johnson summons Walker to his office to let him in on his latest scheme, a new machine that takes the kink out of black people's hair. Johnson tells Walker that he wants to "float" the stock around Harlem first and then offers Walker stock and money to simply lend his name to the deal and not to mention Johnson's name at all. Walker agrees to do it and leaves. When Greta shows up at Johnson's office, her conversation with him reveals that he is trying to set up Walker because he thinks Walker is trying to take Jean away from him. Meanwhile, the district attorney begins an investigation into the hair kink racket, which results in Walker being indicted on charges of fraud. Upon learning this, Spider, to whom Walker sold a share of the stock, vows to get even with Walker. While visiting Walker at the police station, Jean learns that Johnson is behind the racket, but because Walker is afraid of Johnson, she decides to keep quiet. Later, Jean and Bill question Greta, hoping that she will implicate Johnson, but Greta does not cooperate with them until Jean forces her to do so by fighting with her. Greta's statement results in Walker's vindication and Johnson's indictment. After Spider kills Johnson, Bill realizes that Jean and Walker are right for each other and leaves them to begin life anew. +

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.