Paul Robeson: Citizen of the World

We finish out our Paul Robeson: Portraits of the Artist boxset with Citizen of the World containing two films that began life as hard-hitting pro-labor pieces and were both neutered to varying degrees by the outbreak of World War II. Pen Tennyson’s Proud Valley (1940) takes the heavier hit, with the ending being changed from miners seizing the means of production to “management plays an important guiding role” argument à la Metropolis. Leo Hurwitz and Paul Strand’s documentary Native Land (1942), based on the finding’s of the Senate’s La Follette Committee investigating violence against labor organizers and organizations, pulls slightly fewer punches, with its release ending being a tacked on message from narrator Robeson about Nazis being the greater threat to freedom than bosses and the US government, but it was still suppressed for years afterward.