Format: Noir Alley on TCM
Director: Pierre Chenal
Look, there's easily a book to be written about this movie, not a blog post. It's a remarkable bit of cinema for a multitude of reasons.
Based on a novel by celebrated author Richard Wright, and *starring* Richard Wright(!), the movie is maybe the most surprisingly frank depiction of the world a Black American lived within in mid-20th Century America captured on film at the time that I've seen. Now - let me also say: it is very true I watch studio movies of the era, and have not had access to, and am not aware of, much of the independent Black cinema of the the 1940's and 50's, which I am sure had plenty to say and show.
But, look, this movie was never, ever going to get made in America at a studio - at least until the 1960's. And so it wasn't. Shot in Argentina to get around the Hayes Code, the movie does feature a good number of American actors, but not all of them are... the best. And there's some serious ADR work happening over some of the rest of the talent that must have been local. But - just imagine in 2021 hearing "we had to leave the country because telling this story was so controversial, the US just couldn't handle it". I mean - that is not a great thing to have to say in a supposedly free society.