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The Very Last Laugh, Part 1

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Film Identifier: F.2017-12-0002
Run Time
0h 25m 50s
Date Produced
This is part one of Grisham's The Very Last Laugh, which documents the history of the first known African American film studio in the country, Ebony Studios (1914-1918), based in Chicago. The film features interviews with Luther J. Pollard (1878-1977), and is the only known footage of him on camera.

According to the established scholarship, Ebony Studios emerged from the embers of another company, Historical Feature Film Company, which was founded with the intention of produced animated cartoons and comedies featuring all Black casts, aimed for the general audience. In 1916, the company was purchased by the newly formed Ebony Film Corporation, which had white capital but employed an African American producer, Luther J. Pollard, as its president. 
However, The Very Last Laugh presents another narrative, and indicates that Ebony was the sole brainchild of Pollard, who was not simply a figurehead but was also the founder of the studio. This would make Pollard the first known African American producer in film history.

The film also features interviews with his collaborator Charles David, who previously worked as a cinematographer at Essanay Films before joining Pollard at Ebony.

The Very Last Laugh is a documentary although it features a few "scripted" scenes set up as a way to narrate the history of Ebony Film Co. The film won an Emmy for Best Local Television Documentary in 1976. 

Main Credits
Grisham, William Franklin (is filmmaker)
Additional Credits
Grisham, William Franklin (is writer)
Actors, Performers and Participants
Pollard, Luther J. (is interviewee)
David, Charles (is interviewee)
Related Place
Chicago (represents)