Of all Paul Robeson's eleven starring film performances, by far his most iconic was his breakthrough in the big-screen adaptation of Eugene O'Neill's The Emperor Jones (1933). He was already a legend for his stage incarnation of Brutus Jones, a Pullman porter who powers his way to rule of a Caribbean island, but with this, his first sound-era film role, his regal image was married to his booming voice for eternity. With The Emperor Jones, Robeson became the first African-American leading man in mainstream movies and, he said, gained a deeper understanding of cinema's potential to change racial misconceptions. Previously censored, The Emperor Jones is presented here in its most complete form. Also included is Saul J. Turell's Academy Award-winning documentary short Paul Robeson: Tribute to an Artist (1979), narrated by Sidney Poitier, which traces his career through his activism and his socially charged performances of his signature song, "Ol' Man River."
Audio commentary for The Emperor Jones by historian Jeffrey C. Stewart
Our Paul: Remembering Paul Robeson, a new video program including interviews with filmmaker William Greaves and actors Ruby Dee and James Earl Jones
Robeson on Robeson, a new interview with Paul Robeson Jr. about his father's career and art