|Mantan Moreland in The Scarlet Clue (1945)|
|Nina Mae McKinney and Paul Robson in|
Sanders of the River (1935)
Author John Grant writes about “race movies” on a post about Gun Moll at his Noirish blog: “Made between about 1910 and the early 1950s, these typically featured all-black casts and were shown to all-black audiences, and were produced outside the Hollywood system on budgets that made Poverty Row enterprises seem positively DeMillean. Because of the cheapness, the production standards generally weren’t high and the acting could on occasion be amateurish; moreover, there was a reluctance to tackle genuine African American problems in the race movies, probably because most of the studios creating work in this genre were white-owned. Despite all this, the movies often show great verve, and some of the acting is top-notch; here you can see many fine African–American actors in leading roles who could get nothing but bit parts, often racially demeaning caricatures, in Hollywood productions.” Gun Moll is an excellent example of a film that has a lot to offer behind its B-picture origins; the Peoples number alone is worth the price of admission, and the acting throughout is superior to a lot of movies I’ve seen of its type.