Paul Robeson

The African-American actor, singer and political activist who became a major star in British cinema of the 1930s.

Paul Robeson may have been an outcast in America, the country of his birth, but he found fame in Britain between the late 1920s and the outbreak of World War Two. With his booming bass singing voice and commanding screen presence, Robeson charmed Britain’s largely white audiences in roles that championed class solidarity and the struggle against oppression. As Robeson became a major player in British cinema, he campaigned for screen roles that projected a positive image of black people, breaking away from traditional stereotypes. Although not all of his films lived up to such ideals (Sanders of the River in particular) Robeson left an indelible mark on British cinema and his portrayals became a benchmark for black screen representation for years to come.

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Song of FreedomSong of Freedom

Drama193677 minsDirector: J. Elder Wills

A black London docker becomes a famous opera singer in this stirring musical drama starring Paul Robeson

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Body and SoulBody and Soul

Drama192593 minsDirector: Oscar Micheaux

Paul Robeson made an auspicious film debut in a twin-role, in this key work from pioneering black filmmaker Oscar Micheaux.

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The Proud ValleyThe Proud Valley

Drama194077 minsDirector: Penrose Tennyson

Deeply moving mining drama that provided the legendary American singer/actor Paul Robeson with his best British film role.

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Sanders of the RiverSanders of the River

Drama193587 minsDirector: Zoltan Korda

Alexander Korda’s colonial epic was disowned by its star Paul Robeson, but became a pivotal film in his fight for screen representation.

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King Solomon's MinesKing Solomon's Mines

Action and Adventure193777 minsDirector: Robert Stevenson

The first adaptation of H. Rider Haggard’s famous novel, featuring Paul Robeson as a usurped king accompanying Allan Quartermain on an African adventure.

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Show BoatShow Boat

Period drama1936114 minsDirector: James Whale

By far the best film version of Oscar Hammerstein and Jerome Kern’s landmark stage show.