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The Peanut Man

The Peanut Man(1947)

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Although a print of this film was not viewed, the above credits and plot summary were taken from a cutting continuity deposited with the NYSA. The following foreward appears in the opening credits: "Because each of you, individually, is a part of the melting pot that is America, yours is the serious and supreme task-even obligation-of the hour: to understand, to appreciate and to work harmoniously with one another, and to be tolerant. The environments into which you were born and reared had much to do with the shaping of your lives, but many of you have progressed far beyond those environments, despite sometimes seemingly impassable barriers of color, race and creed. This is the story of one such man who, born in slavery and ignorance..." The foreward also introduces George Washington Carver's story and contributions. The opening credits, as written in the continuity, are presented in an unusual introductory sequence in which director Tony Paton, playing himself, tries to convince his backer Murphy, played by Bernard Gorcey, to finance the film. Paton tells "Murphy" that Hollywood is afraid to produce films which represent "the truth about races and religions." Paton then reads the cast and credit names in a conversational manner and introduces the story proper by flipping the switch of a projector. Song titles listed above are included in the continuity. Other songs were also performed in the film, but their titles and composers have not been determined.
       According to a July 1947 feature article on the film in Ebony magazine, the film cost $50,000 to produce and was made by Paton after an experience he had while on an airplane. According to the article, Paton was on a flight from New Orleans to Los Angeles, saw actor Clarence Muse sitting in the front of the plane and decided to sit with him. At that point a stewardess told Paton that only "Negroes" could sit in the front seats until the plane passed Dallas. After the plane flew past Dallas, the two men sat together and "concluded arrangement to film a story of Carver."
       George Washington Carver (1864-1943), a former slave, was a graduate of Iowa State College of Agriculture. He became a faculty member at Iowa, where he specialized in bacteriology, after which he moved to the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute (now the Tuskegee Institute). He experimented with peanuts and discovered hundred of uses for the crop. He additionally developed uses for sweet potatoes and soybeans and helped to increase the efficiency of farming techniques. He was honored both during and after his lifetime for his efforts to advance the stature of African Americans and helping the economy of the Southern farmer.