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Black Faces in Early Hollywood

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             Film images reflect and illuminate American culture in a characteristic way. Successful and popular films are designed for audiences and so they have to be reflections of what can be understood and accepted by people of the time in which the film was produced.
             Afro-Americans have overall been more incisively affected by film than any other racial group. The black image, though not always a presentation of cultural realities, is often a reflection and description of cultural legends, myths and fantasies. This is especially true for Afro-Americans who have always been negative values in American society. The Afro-American image in film may have been the widespread image of blacks in America, but this image had little or nothing to do with reality.One should always keep in mind that it was predominantly for Anglo-Americans that Afro-American images were projected on the cinemas' screens. The myths about Afro-Americans which inhabited the American popular mind were influenced by the film medium. The film medium has always played an important role "in shaping images of various ethnic and racial groups" : films affect the beliefs, opinions and attitudes of many viewers. Films featuring Afro-Americans, throughout the period from 1895, the starting year of commercial cinema, to the 1960s, pretended to be about the Afro-Americans, about Afro-American culture, their themes and problems. But as American films were predominantly produced and financed by Anglo-Americans, representing their own views and attitudes, films featuring black Americans must be looked at critically, not taking the portrayal as an irrefutable fact. .
             This research will provide an overview of the black images in American film culture from 1895 to 1927.
             Whether or not the image and presenting of blacks in American films changed superficially or contextually over the passing years is at issue.

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