Fish (1916) – Bert Williams Silent Film

In an unprecedented move for its day in 1915, Biograph Company executives hired actor Bert Williams to star, produce, direct, and write his own films, having full control, the first time a Black-American ever had such control given by a mainstream movie company. The two films made for Biograph were A Natural Born Gambler (1916) and Fish (1916). Background from IMDB (

In 1916, Bert produced, directed and starred in Fish, about a “boy” who spends hours digging for worms and wants to spend his afternoon fishing, but when he returns home for his pole he finds chores waiting. He sneaks out on the chores and goes fishing anyway. After he catches a big fish he tries to sell it to one of his neighbors, but the neighbor runs him off. The boy’s family catches up with him and drags him back to his chores. At 42, Bert’s attempt to portray a “boy” was not well received. Bert was frustrated with the limitations of primitive cinema and Fish was his last film. Summary written by Blackface: Bert Williams (

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