Juke: Passages From the Films of Spencer Williams

Juke: Passages From the Films of Spencer Williams

A film by Thom Andersen | 2015 | 30 minutes

In JUKE, Thom Andersen, director of cinematic masterworks like LOS ANGELES PLAYS ITSELF and THE THOUGHTS THAT ONCE WE HAD reconsiders the films of Spencer Williams, the pioneering African American screenwriter, director, and actor whose 1940s melodramas centered on sinners and saints—Beale Street mamas and storefront preachers, crime bosses and upwardly striving lawyers and soldiers—who are tempted by jazz and sex and then set back on the glory road to salvation. Commissioned by the Museum of Modern Art, JUKE is an essential work of historical excavation.


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“A work of enraptured advocacy. It is at once a threadbare epic of mysterious narrative following the dancing, despair and sins of a swathe of 1940s African American characters, an essential documentary on African American cultural specificity of the era, and, of course, a tantalizing teaser and incentive to track down these astounding productions.”
– The Notebook