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Friday, July 29 10:30 pm ET
Herbert Jeffries, also known as Herb Jeffries and Herb Jeffrey, plays dual roles - as Bob Blake and the Deacon - in Richard C. Kahn's Two Gun Man From Harlem (1938). Jeffries's character is wrongfully accused of murder and goes to Harlem, where he assumes the identity of a preacher-turned-gangster who looks like him. He infiltrates the gang in order to catch the men who framed him for the murder. The second in a series of Herb Jeffries Westerns, Two Gun Man From Harlem helped enforce the idea that a black man could ride the range and save the day as easily as a white cowboy.
The idea for the character came to Jeffries in the thirties, while touring as a singer around the southern states with Earl Hines's band. He came upon a crying black child and when the boy explained that he was forbidden to join a pretend cowboy game because there were no black cowboys, Jeffries realized that he had to make a Western for his race. Though Hollywood darkened his skin and covered his wavy hair with a huge cowboy hat, Jeffries became a popular attraction on the black movie circuit as Bob Blake, the singing cowboy. In all, he made four Westerns including Two Gun Man From Harlem. The others were Harlem on the Prairie (1937), The Bronze Buckaroo (1939), and Harlem Rides the Range (1939).
"A good entertainer, a man with a vision and the fortitude to make it a reality, is an inspiration to all children, of any color, and he's a man we all can look up to," Herb Jeffries once remarked. He has certainly proven himself to be that man and Jeffries is still writing and recording songs. In 1996 he received the Golden Boot Award from the Motion Picture and Television Fund Foundation for his contribution to the western film genre.
Director: Richard C. Kahn
Producer: Richard C. Kahn, Alfred N. Sack
Screenplay: Richard C. Kahn
Cinematography: Harvey Gould, Marcel Le Picard
Music: Herb Jeffries
Art Direction: Vin Taylor
Cast: Herb Jeffries (Bob Blake/The Deacon), Marguerite Whitten (Sally Thompson), Clarence Brooks (John Barker), Mantan Moreland (Bill Blake), Matthew "Stymie" Beard (Jimmy Thompson), Spencer Williams (Butch Carter).
by Kerryn Sherrod