The Exile

Directed by
Oscar Micheaux, American, 1884 - 1951
Owned by
Bowser, Pearl, American, born 1931
acetate film and plastic
Duration (Reel 1): 32 Minutes
Length (Film): 1140 Feet
Duration (Reel 2): 28 Minutes
Length (Film): 1000 Feet
Duration (Reel 3): 19 Minutes
Length (Film): 700 Feet
16mm motion picture film of The Exile
This 16mm black and white feature film, "The Exile", was Oscar Micheaux's first "talkie" (a feature film with a synchronized audio/dialogue track). The film was based on his novel "The Conquest, The Story of a Negro Pioneer" (1913).
Consists of: 16mm Film (a), 16mm Film (b), 16mm Film (c), Original Film Reel (d)
2012. Reel 1, 2012. Reel 2, 2012. Reel 3: 16mm film.
Edith Duval, a former maid, occupies a Southside Chicago mansion after it is abandoned by its wealthy meat packer owner. She is part of a wild crowd that likes to gamble, dance and have a good time. One night, when she throws a huge party for her friends, Jean Baptiste, a sincere young black man, draws her away from the crowd and confesses his love for her. Edith is delighted and tells Jean her plans to turn the house into a gambling club. Outraged by the suggestion, Jean declares his desire to take her away to a farm in South Dakota to earn an honest living. Edith, however, scornfully sends him away. Five years later, Jean has become such a successful farmer that he needs a hand with the chores and asks his new neighbors for help. Jean and the head of the family agree that the son will work for him. Meanwhile, Agnes, the daughter, is very attracted to Jean and, although he returns her love, he breaks off the romance because she is white and he is afraid that she will face a difficult life if they marry. Brokenhearted, Jean returns to Chicago. There, he visits Edith's nightclub, and determined to put Agnes behind him, he proposes to Edith again. This time she happily accepts. Unfortunately, an old lover of Edith shoots her in a jealous rage and Jean is accused of her murder. Upon seeing his name in the paper, Agnes decides to go to his aid. Her father agrees, and before she goes, he tells her that her mother was of Ethiopian descent, so it is all right for her to marry Jean. Just as she arrives in Chicago, she meets Jean, who has been completely cleared of the crime. The two set off for a happy married life in South Dakota.
Place filmed
Greenwich Village, New York City, New York County, New York, United States, North and Central America
Place depicted
Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, United States, North and Central America
South Dakota, United States, North and Central America
Collection title
Pearl Bowser Collection
Media Arts-Film and Video
motion pictures (information artifacts)
16mm (photographic film size)
American West
Race films
Credit Line
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of Pearl Bowser
Object number
Restrictions & Rights
Public Domain