By Shelby Kraut
Are you a fan of Marvel and history? Well if you are, then here at South Campus we just had a fun and exciting event for an old movie. The event, “A Role Worth Playing”, was held at FSCJ south campus on February 20th. At the event, a silent black and white race film from Norton Studios in Arlington, Florida was shown. It is the only known surviving film from the studios. History Professor Wes Moody and two associates from Norman Studios, Devan Lesley and Rita Reagan, gave us a very informal presentation on the history of the film industry in Jacksonville before the movie.
The connection to Marvel is through the newest movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Black Panther. Like most of the movies Norman studios produced, Marvel’s Black Panther is also a race film that revolves around an African-American hero.
The film showed at the event was titled “The Flying Ace”, released in 1926. It was Norman Studio’s most famous film. It was about a World War I pilot, Captain Billy Stokes, who returned from the war to regain his former job as detective for the rail company. Stokes was asked to solve the case of the missing pay roll and find the man who was supposed to deliver the payroll to the fast train. This film held the only staring role for the lead actors, Laurence Criner and Kathryn Boyd.
After watching the movie, I would say that Norman Studios did a very good job in showing a fun and creative movie for the audience to see. There were several funny scenes that got the viewers laughing. My favorite two characters were the main character and a young pilot that got into first fights on the ground ,and chases in the air. The young pilot wanted the girl whose father was being accused of the murder and the other, the main character, wanted to find out the truth.
Norman Studios was known for its race films because the founder, Richard Norman, was motivated by the state of race relations. The African American audience and the unlimited number of African American actors unable to get jobs in mainstream films, lead him and the studio to make this movie.