Blackface comedy may make modern day Americans cringe, but in the late 1800s up to the 1920s it was an acceptable form of humor. One of its biggest fans was director .D.W. Griffith, who originally planned to have his company produce this film with theatrical icon Al Jolson as the star. An insecure Jolson (still a couple years away from The Jazz Singer) bailed on the project at the last minute. Griffith -- who was ready to begin shooting with his brother Albert Grey as producer, and John W. Noble as director -- went ahead anyway with two-reel comedian Lloyd Hamilton as the star. Hamilton plays Claude Sappington, a mystery writer who is determined to save faithful family servant Uncle Eph (Tom O'Malley) from a trumped-up murder charge. To find the real killer, Sappington covers his face in burnt cork and heads for the dance hall run by bootlegger Bill Jackson (Tom Wilson). Discovering the truth, Sappington breaks up the African-American bootlegging ring and wins the Governor's Daughter (Sally Long). Although the racist humor was deemed acceptable in 1924, this was still not a very good film and it lost money during its brief run, prompting Griffith to sue Jolson for breach of contract in a desperate attempt to regain his losses. The filmmaker won, but only a token sum of $2,671, which did nothing to help the massive debt he had run up because of his gross overspending and mismanagement as an independent producer.
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