“Harlem Rides the Range” is a Western film released in 1939 and directed by Richard C. Kahn. It features an all-black cast and was one of the earliest “race films” made in Hollywood, catering to African American audiences.
The film follows Bob Blake (Herbert Jeffries), a cowboy from Harlem who inherits a ranch in the west from his uncle. Upon arrival, Bob discovers that the ranch is being targeted by a group of white landowners who want to take it over by any means necessary. Bob and his sidekick, Dusty (Lucius Brooks), decide to fight back and protect their land.
As they investigate, they discover that the white landowners are using a nearby ghost town as a base for their operations. Bob and Dusty disguise themselves as two wandering musicians and sneak into the ghost town to gather information. There, they discover that the landowners are hiding stolen cattle in the town’s abandoned buildings.
With this information, Bob and Dusty devise a plan to expose the white landowners’ illegal activities and save their ranch. They organize a cattle drive to the nearest town and use the stolen cattle as evidence against the landowners.
In the final showdown, Bob and Dusty confront the white landowners and their henchmen, who are armed and ready to fight. However, with the help of the local sheriff and a group of sympathetic townspeople, they manage to win the day and save their ranch.
The film ends on a triumphant note, with Bob and Dusty returning to Harlem as heroes and Bob deciding to give up his previous life as a musician and stay on the ranch. The film is notable for its all-black cast, its focus on African American characters, and its themes of racial justice and resistance against oppression.
Richard C. Kahn
Spencer Williams, F.E. Miller
Herb Jeffries, Lucius Brooks, F.E. Miller