Brother Martin: Servant of Jesus (lost race film; 1942)

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Brothermartinservantofjesus poster.jpg

Film poster.

Status: Lost

Brother Martin: Servant of Jesus is a 1942 religious film written by, directed by, and starring Spencer Williams.[1] The film belongs to the race film genre, consisting of all-black casts that tailored to African-American interests of the time. It's also noteworthy for containing a version of the famous spiritual song "Nobody Knows the Troubles I've Seen."

Premise[edit | edit source]

Williams plays an uncle who discusses the life of Martin de Porres with his niece. de Porres was a late 16th-century Peruvian who was elevated to sainthood in 1962 by Pope John XXIII.[2]

Williams directed a series of religious films in the 1940s, this one came with the tagline: "The story of a Negro that loved God."

Availability[edit | edit source]

This is the only film by Williams considered lost. No film archives are known to hold a print, but a trailer is known to survive and has been seen by Judith Weisenfeld, author of Hollywood be Thy Name: African American Religion in American Film, 1929-1949.

She references it shortly in the book, saying:"The advertising trailer for Brother Martin gives little sense of the film's narrative, focusing instead on introducing the figure of Martin de Porres and the elements of his history that led to his beatification."[3]

References[edit | edit source]