skip navigation
The Blood of Jesus
Remind Me
,Blood of Jesus,The Blood of Jesus

The Blood of Jesus

The financial backer of Spencer Williams' The Blood of Jesus (1941) claimed it was "possibly the most successful" and "lived the longest" of all the movies of its period created by black filmmakers for black audiences. Williams wrote, produced and directed this religious drama. He also stars in the leading role of Razz, a ne'er-do-well who accidentally shoots his wife, causing her to hover in limbo between life and death, heaven and hell. The struggle for a woman's soul is underscored by ethereal gospel songs alternated with "down-and-dirty" blues numbers.

In his book Black Film as Genre, Thomas Cripps wrote that the film "provided a brief anatomy of Southern Baptist folk theology by presenting Christian myth in literal termsÉ From its opening voiceover, the film became an advocate for the most enduring traditions of Afro-American family life on Southern ground."

Williams (1893-1969) began writing for and acting in films in 1929. The Blood of Jesus, shot on location in Texas on a budget of only $5,000, marked his directorial debut. He directed seven more films during the 1940s, including Dirty Gertie From Harlem U.S.A. (1946), Beale Street Mama (1947), and Juke Joint (1947). He also directed a tribute to blacks in the military entitled Marching On in the forties.

Director: Spencer Williams
Producer: Spencer Williams, Alfred N. Sack (executive)
Screenplay: Spencer Williams
Cinematography: Jack Whitman
Cast: Cathryn Caviness (Martha), Spencer Williams (Razz ), Juanita Riley (Sister Jenkins), Reather Hardeman (Sister Ellerby), Rogenia Goldthwaite (The Angel), James B. Jones (Satan), Frank H. McClennan (Judas Green), Eddie DeBase (Rufus Brown), Alva Fuller (Luke Williams).

by Roger Fristoe