Jericho (1937 film)

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Jericho
Jericho FilmPoster.jpeg
A poster with the film's alternative title: Dark Sands
Directed by Thornton Freeland
Produced by Walter Futter
Written by George Barraud
Walter Futter
Starring Paul Robeson
Music by Van Phillips
Cinematography John W. Boyle
Edited by Edward B. Jarvis
Distributed by Capitol Films
Release dates
23 August 1937 (UK); 16 August 1938 (USA)
Running time
85 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English

Jericho is a 1937 British drama film directed by Thornton Freeland and starring Paul Robeson, Henry Wilcoxon and Wallace Ford. It is also known by the alternative title Dark Sands.

Paul Robeson considered Jericho one of his most positive accomplishments in projecting a screen image of a Black man with courage, honor, self-sacrifice and intelligence who achieves success and happiness. The epic film begins as a World War I American troop ship is torpedoed, and many soldiers are trapped below the deck. Robeson plays Jericho Jackson, a medical student drafted into the war. Jericho heroically saves the trapped men, in defiance of his superior’s orders to abandon ship, but he accidentally kills the officer in the melee. Despite his heroism, Jericho is court-martialed for refusing an order. Embittered, he escapes, and an officer named Captain Mack is held responsible for his escape and court-martialed.

Jericho ends up in North Africa, where he meets the Tuareg people. When he uses his medical skills to heal the sick, the Tuareg welcome Jericho into their tribe, and he marries and raises a family with them, eventually becoming their leader. He leads his people to victory over rivals and brings peace and unity to the region through which the Tuareg trek annually to trade for salt. When an anthropology film crew’s coverage of the salt trek is shown in London, Captain Mack spots Jericho in the film and vows to track him down. Finally, when the Captain sees what good works Jericho has done for his people, he relents.

It is telling of Robeson’s demand for final cut that at this point in the story, Jericho, homesick, was to agree to help clear the captain’s name in the United States. After their plane crashes in the desert, Jericho dies trying to save Captain Mack. Instead, Robeson simply requested that the movie end with the captain flying off alone and crashing in the desert.

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