Sunday, May 25, 2014

Movie of the Week: The Scar of Shame (1927) (Review)

The Scar of Shame was the featured film for the week of May 12th-19th.

*Epilepsy Warning: 
Use of animated GIF images*


From Wikipedia

An educated, upscale young black musician (named Alvin Hillyard - played by Harry Henderson) marries a woman (Louise Howard - played by Lucia Lynn Moses) from a lower socioeconomic class to get her out of the clutches of her stepfather ("Spike" Howard - William E. Pettus), who beats and abuses her. However, once he "saves" her, he won't let his new wife meet his mother, as he knows she will be angry and disappointed with him for marrying someone "below his station". [IMDb]

Oh, there's so much more to this film than that IMDb summary, but going any further would require some spoiler alerts. 


Screenplay by David Starkman (also the producer)

Alvin (Harry Henderson) consoles Louise (Lucia Lynn Moses)

There really isn't much I have to say about The Scar of Shame's writing. As far as the plot goes, it nicely written and played out very well. The few problems I did have--problems having to do with social issues--will be discussed in my 'Overall Thoughts'.



Like the storyline, this movie's characters were very well written. They were multi-dimensional, they were genuine, and they were human. Of course, you had your protagonists and antagonists, but no one was "all good" and no one was "all bad". There's one character who isn't mentioned in the summary--a very important character, actually. His name is Eddie Blake (played by Norman Johnstone) and he's a friend of Louise's father who devises a scheme to break up Louise and Alvin's marriage.

Eddie Blake (Norman Johnstone) wants to "talk" to Louise)

This particular character is more of an antagonist than the abusive father, but at one point (a very small point), we see a little inkling of guilt in his face. I liked that--he was a bad guy with a conscience, but not so much of a conscience that he would unrealistically do a "180" to make amends. At least, not at the drop of a hat. This is pretty much how the majority of the characters were written.


Both director (Frank Peregini) and cinematographer (Al Liguori) paid great attention to detail for The Scar of Shame--and it's very obvious. They made great use of the motifs and the editing was seamless. Like the writing, this is another aspect of the film I really don't need to go on and on about--it was all good. Throw up my "OK" sign, good. 

One of the symbol's of the film's recurring theme.

I might also add that the director and producer--both white--probably had better budgets and backing than the Oscar Micheauxs of early American Cinema.


Overall Thoughts

Obviously, I enjoyed watching this movie. I would definitely watch it again. In fact, I can see myself watching it very often. However, I must point out the things that bother me--and I will try to do so without spoiling anything:

The character, Louise, is abused, misused, and disrespected throughout this film. When she starts lashing out at those who mistreat her, she is made out to be the "wrong" one. As I'm writing this, I still feel a little irritated. Louise deserved nothing but great things and (*cue my accent*) it was some bull that she didn't git 'em, eitha.

The point in which Louise stopped caring--or at least pretended to.

Also, the film seems to serve as a commentary on class, particularly the separation of class within the black race. It acknowledges negative attitudes and personalities that dwell in both upper class society and lower class society. However, the problems with classism--and the bad ways in which people from different backgrounds interact--are placed solely on members of the lower class in The Scar of Shame. Of course, Louise's father and Eddie Blake bring Louise physically and emotional harm, but Alvin's failure to correct his mother's snobby attitude (and the snobby attitude itself) plays a big part in the unraveling of Louise's life and sanity, as well--and neither Alvin nor snobby thinking were held accountable in the screenplay. 


To reiterate, despite the aforementioned flaws, I still enjoyed this movie, and would definitely watch it again and again.

 I recommend that you watch it as well!

*The Scar of Shame on Youtube*

(All gifs used in this post were created using ^this^ video link)


The images used in this post are being used for informational purposes only. If the rightful owner(s) of any of these images wishes to have them removed, please contact me, and I will do so immediately. 


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