In the pre-Civil War South, a sadistic plantation-owner brutalizes his slaves to the point of them heaving no other choice but to rebel. Always obedient, peaceful and honest old slave Tom plays a central role in this tragedy.
Géza von Radványi
Based on the novel by Harriet Beecher Stowe: Eliza, a slave who has a young child, pleads with Tom, another slave, to escape with her. Tom does not leave, but Eliza flees with her child. ... See full summary »
The role of "Uncle Tom" was originally given to Charles Gilpin, but when Universal executives saw the first few days' dailies, they objected to Gilpin's "aggressive" performance and demanded that he be replaced. Character actor James B. Lowe auditioned for the part, gave a more "acceptable" reading and was awarded the role. See more »
This is perhaps the best film adaption of the classic Harriet Beecher Stowe novel. One of the more expensive films for the time, a price tag of $1.8 million, it is brimming with brilliant photography and fine performances. A film beautifully restored with the original movietone score and one of the few surviving works of director Harry Pollard, a lesser known name in the annals of cinema history but nonetheless an innovative filmmaker. Mr. Pollard successfully captures the mood of the old pre-war South while emphasizing the horror and immorality of slavery. James Lowe gives a fine performance in the title role, obedient yet not lacking integrity. Some characterizations may seem degrading to today's audiences, but this film was groundbreaking for its sympathy for African-Americans of the time. This film is also important in that it features a great actress of the silent period and wife of the director, Margarita Fischer. I had seen many striking photos of Ms. Fischer in Daniel Blum's Pictorial History of the Silent Screen and was delighted to find one of her few surviving films on video. She stars as Eliza, a fair skinned servant who eventually falls into the hands of the sinister Simon Legree, played by George Siegmann. Ms. Fischer gives a powerful performance of a young woman defying the evils of a cruel world and there is a memorable scene of her flight to freedom across the ice flows with her son. This was this lovely actresses' swan song, for she retired prematurely after this film and lived many more years. An early appearance of Virginia Grey as Little Eva, Harry Pollard's mastery of filmmaking, and Margarita Fischer's beauty and talent all combine to make film preservation an important cause.
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