He was a college football phenomenon at Rutgers, the holder of a Columbia University law degree, the lead in Eugene O'Neill's The Emperor Jones, the singer of "Ol' Man River" in stage and film versions of Show Boat, a star in Hollywood and British movies. Robeson was something else in pre-mid-century show business: a proud, sometimes defiant black man. This Criterion set displays the Robeson charisma in a silent melodrama (Oscar Micheaux's Body and Soul), the movie version of The Emperor Jones and four films he made in England and Africa when his majestic sexuality proved unacceptable to racist America. Documentary extras reveal Robeson's intelligence, passion and charm. A must-have collection.
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