Thursday, October 11, 1990

The Black Folk Dramas of Spencer Williams

Program One

San Francisco Art Institute

Although Spencer Williams was best known as a character actor (he played Andy of “Amos ‘n’ Andy”), his greatest passion was for the handful of modestly produced folk dramas he directed between 1941 and 1947. Unlike typical “race” movies of the period, Williams achieved a true vision of Afro-American values and concerns by combining traditional elements of black ritual expression: religious melodrama, spiritualism, symbolic imagery, and a wealth of musical idioms. Black culture historian Adrian Lanier-Seward, curator of the Whitney Museum’s Spencer Williams Retrospective in 1988, will introduce The Blood of Jesus (1941) and Go Down Death (1944). (100 min.)