Black King, The

2546. THE BLACK KING (1932-USA). With A.B. COMETHIERE, VIVIANNE BABER, LORENZO TUCKER. Marcus Garvey once proclaimed the kinship of all black people. He raised money to organize a “Back To Africa” movement, in 1925, he was convicted of fraud. Seven years later, a tiny movie company called Southland Films was formed. Its first (and only!) production was this scathing send-up of Garvey and his followers. Here is a rare print of this fascinating film with an almost entirely all-black cast. Stage star A.B. Comethiere is absolutely energized as an ambitious blow-hard named Deacon Charcoal Johnson who speaks in a low-class dialect and has the morals of Mississippi mud. The devious deacon usurps the leadership of the small-town Rise and Shine Baptist Church from an elderly deacon who promptly dies from a broken heart. Johnson fires up the naive congregation to donate their savings to a cause that will send American blacks to an African promised land where “diamonds the size of potatoes” are within easy reach. With the crowd’s money in hand, the crooked deacon absconds to Harlem, where he raises more money by making impassioned speeches and organizing large parades. He proclaims himself “Emperor Of The United States Of Africa” and surrounds himself with an entourage of comical double-talking lieutenants. Johnson wears lavish military uniforms and manages to raise (and then spend) hundreds of thousands of dollars without making any practical arrangement for an exodus to Africa. Also appearing in this biting burlesque of Garvey and his work is prominent stage star Vivianne Baber as a young woman taken in by the deacon’s false promises. Handsome Lorenzo Tucker, who was known as “The Black Valentino,” plays a lawyer who attempts to expose the fraud. The result is an electrifying and bitter satire, which includes remarkable documentary footage of early black solidarity parades. 69 minutes. Drama