19 user 13 critic

Within Our Gates (1920)

Not Rated | | Drama, Romance | 12 January 1920 (USA)
4:32 | Clip
Abandoned by her fiancé, an educated black woman with a shocking past dedicates herself to helping a near bankrupt school for impoverished black youths.


Oscar Micheaux


Oscar Micheaux
2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
Evelyn Preer Evelyn Preer ... Sylvia Landry
Flo Clements Flo Clements ... Alma Prichard
James D. Ruffin James D. Ruffin ... Conrad Drebert - Sylvia's Fiancé
Jack Chenault Jack Chenault ... Larry Prichard - Alma's Stepbrother
William Smith William Smith ... Philip Gentry - A Detective
Charles D. Lucas Charles D. Lucas ... Dr. V. Vivian
Bernice Ladd Bernice Ladd ... Mrs. Geraldine Stratton
Mrs. Evelyn Mrs. Evelyn ... Mrs. Elena Warwick
William Starks William Starks ... Jasper Landry (as William Stark)
Mattie Edwards Mattie Edwards ... Jasper's Wife
Ralph Johnson Ralph Johnson ... Philip Gridlestone
E.G. Tatum E.G. Tatum ... Efram - Gridlestone's Servant
Grant Edwards Grant Edwards ... Emil Landry
Grant Gorman Grant Gorman ... Armand Gridlestone
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Leigh Whipper Leigh Whipper


Southern negro Sylvia Landry visits her cousin Alma in the north, where there is less racial prejudice than in her home town of Piney Woods in the deep south, and is anxiously awaiting her fiancé, Conrad. But Alma has designs on Conrad and tricks Sylvia into a compromising situation when he arrives, and he abandons her. Disheartened, she returns to Piney Woods to help a reverend running a school for young negroes. Sylvia learns that the reverend hasn't the heart to turn away poor students, and unless he can raise $5,000 to supplement the $1.49 per child per year that the state supplies, the school will be closed. She goes up north again to try to raise the money and has little success, but meets kindly negro, Dr. V. Vivian, who helps her regain her stolen purse. When she saves a child from being hit by an auto, she herself is slightly injured. But the owner of the car is philanthropist Mrs. Elena Warwick, who is sympathetic to her quest and promises to donate the $5,000 to the school.... Written by Arthur Hausner <genart@volcano.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A Story of the Negro See more »


Drama | Romance


Not Rated | See all certifications »




Release Date:

12 January 1920 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Within Our Gates See more »

Filming Locations:

Fort Lee, New Jersey, USA See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The film has been repeatedly censored over the years. In its first outing, the rape and lynching scenes were heavily edited as they were deemed too provocative after the 1919 Chicago race riots. See more »


[first lines]
Alma Prichard: Do pardon me for interrupting - but I forgot this...
See more »

Alternate Versions

In 1993, the Library of Congress Motion Picture Conservation Center restored this film as close to the original as possible, from the only known surviving copy in Spain. The Spanish intertitles were retranslated into English using typical Micheaux language. Only one short sequence was missing and that was summarized with an intertitle frame. The running time is 79 minutes. See more »

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User Reviews

An unique but also simply a great movie for its time.
24 September 2010 | by Boba_Fett1138See all my reviews

It's funny how this movie is mostly being known for just one thing; the fact that it's the oldest, still existing movie, (that we know off of course) that got directed by an Afro-American film-makers. But this of course in itself is really not saying much about the actual movie. It doesn't say anything about its quality or about its pioneering innovativeness.

Still fact remains that this is an interesting piece of history. It's a account on film, on how life for the average colored person was back in the early 20th century. It's not only that but it's also a view on how life for them should be like. A life without racism and a life in which they get treated equally, also by the tight high upper white class. It's purely a movie shot from the black man and woman's perspective, which makes this movie an unique watch really.

It's a movie with mostly a cast consisting out of Afro-American actors. One thing that strike me about this was that those actors on film did not looked Afro-American at all. You would expect in a black & white person that an Afro-American would appear as black but in fact their faces and bodies often look more white than black, on film. Perhaps this is also part of the reason why film-makers in the old days every so often used blackface-actors, rather than actual Afro-Americans for their movies. A lot of directors from the early days of cinema get now day slammed for not using actual Afro-Americans in their movies but perhaps there were more and other, more movie-technical, reasons for this, rather than simply being racist toward our colored fellow man or woman.

As for the actual movie itself; it's pretty good. It has a great story, that of course was considered to be quite controversial for its time, due to its subject and the fact that it got made by an almost entirely black cast and crew. It showed how things really were at the time, for the Afro-Americans but it's also a movie with a message and one with hope for better times, that in reality wouldn't come for the Afro-Americans until decades later.

Considering the fact that this movie didn't got made with the backing of studio's or big money spenders and experienced people within the business, the movie is all the more impressive to view. It's simple a well made and nicely constructed film, that keeps its story flowing really well at all times and keeps the movie a good and interesting one to watch.

A surprisingly good early 'blackcinema' movie.



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