Big Fella

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Big Fella
Directed by J. Elder Wills
Produced by Henry Passmore
J. Elder Wills
Written by Claude McKay (novel) Ingram D'Abbes
Fenn Sherie
Starring Paul Robeson
Elisabeth Welch
Roy Emerton
James Hayter
Music by G. H. Clutsam
Wilhelm Grosz
Eric Ansell
Jack Beaver
Cinematography Cyril Bristow
George Stretton
H.A.R. Thomson
Edited by Brereton Porter
Douglas Robertson
Release date
  • 8 April 1937 (1937-04-08)
Running time
85 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English

Big Fella is a 1937 British musical drama film directed by J. Elder Wills and starring Paul Robeson, Elisabeth Welch and Roy Emerton. It is loosely based on the novel Banjo by Harlem Renaissance writer Claude McKay.


Big Fella is set on the docks and streets of Marseilles. Paul Robeson stars in the leading role, as a street-wise but honest dockworker who struggles with deep issues of integrity and human values. Elisabeth Welch plays opposite him as a café singer in love with him. Robeson’s wife, Eslanda Robeson, appears as the café owner.[1]


The movie received high praise, particularly for the music, featuring Robeson and Welch, Robeson's performance.



  1. ^ "MRS. ROBESON DOES EXIST.". The Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld. : 1866 - 1939). Brisbane, Qld.: National Library of Australia. 12 January 1938. p. 10. Retrieved 5 August 2012. 

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