Jericho (1937 film)

Jericho is a 1937 British drama film directed by Thornton Freeland and starring Paul Robeson, Henry Wilcoxon and Wallace Ford. It was released in the USA with the alternative title Dark Sands.

A poster with the film's alternative title: Dark Sands
Directed byThornton Freeland
Produced byWalter Futter
Written byGeorge Barraud
Walter Futter
StarringPaul Robeson
Music byVan Phillips
CinematographyJohn W. Boyle
Edited byEdward B. Jarvis
Distributed byCapitol Films
Release date
23 August 1937 (UK); 16 August 1938 (USA)
Running time
75 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

Paul Robeson considered Jericho one of his most positive accomplishments in projecting a screen image of a Black man with courage, honor, self-sacrifice and intelligence who achieves success and happiness. Robeson’s first British film, Sanders of the River, ended up being an embarrassment for the actor, its story turning into a celebration of British colonialism. Robeson felt betrayed by the production team and sought without success to buy all circulating prints. As a result, Robeson demanded artistic control over the final cut of this film. For example, the ending was to be that Jericho, homesick, agrees to help clear the captain’s name in the United States. After their plane crashes in the desert, Jericho dies trying to save Captain Mack. Instead, Robeson simply requested that the movie end with the captain flying off alone.


A World War I American troopship is torpedoed, and many soldiers are trapped below the deck. Jericho Jackson (Robeson), a medical student drafted into the war, heroically saves the trapped men, in defiance of his superior’s orders to abandon ship, but accidentally kills the officer in the melee. Despite his heroism, Jericho is court-martialed for refusing orders. Embittered, he escapes. Captain Mack is held responsible for his escape and court-martialed.

Jericho ends up in North Africa, where he meets the Tuareg people. When he uses his medical skills to heal the sick, the Tuareg welcome Jericho into their tribe, and he marries and raises a family. He eventually becomes the Tuaregs' leader. He leads his people to victory over rivals and brings peace and unity to the region through which the Tuareg trek annually to trade for salt. When an anthropology film crew’s coverage of the salt trek is shown in London, Captain Mack spots Jericho and vows to track him down. However, when the captain sees how much good Jericho has done for his adopted people, he relents and flies away alone.


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