Lying Lips Film Analysis

Film Oscar Micheaux's melodramatic race film Lying Lips

Lying Lips is a dramatic race film. Edna Mae, Harris, and Elsie star in the movie, which was released in 1939. The plot revolves around the three characters and their difficulties as they try to make sense of their lives. The casts face various uncomfortable situations that they can't avoid because they keep being trapped between rocks and rough places. Elsie's uncles, John and Clyde, do everything they can to save her from the circumstances she finds herself in, but to no avail. The film's title is taken from Psalms 31:18, which says, "let their lying lips be speechless, since they speak against the righteous people."

Elsie’s Plight

Elsie is a singer at a popular night club. Elsie Bellwood loved so much to suing the Johnny Mercer song because it brought an ambient and Harlem renascent mood to the club’s guests; you must have been a beautiful baby. In the midst of her dancing career in the club, she gains popularity which makes it quite difficult for the club owner to fire her from the job. On a particular night, the white owner of the club tries to talk Elsie to go out with the customers but the boldly refutes the request. Owing to her refusal, the club owner tries to get Benjamin who is also an employee at the club to talk Elsie into submission but he outrightly turns down the plea and instead quits his job. Before leaving, Benjamin gives Elsie a synopsis of the conversation he had had with the club owner and tells her not to quit as she is very popular at the club.

Elsie is Convicted of Murder

Afterwards after Benjamin had quit his job at the club, the club owner hires John and Clyde who are Elsie’s uncles to take up Benjamin’s place. Later on in the preceding scene; Elsie leaves her job for home one evening after her day’s schedule is over only to find her aunt dead with a single bullet hole in her head. Elsie rushes to make an emergency call to the police but when Elsie’s informs them of how she had learnt of her aunt’s death, they choose not to believe her but instead arrest her for the murder. On learning of Elsie’s issue, the uncles decide to testify that they saw Elsie leave the club for a little while then came back. John and Clyde’s sister Mrs. Green tells the police of the large insurance cover that Elsie had taken for her aunt that stated her as the beneficiary. This evidence was enough to sentence Elsie to prison which was the case. At this point, it is evident that there are forces that are in play trying to pin Elsie down in every kind of way; both at the workplace with the boss and clients and the strained relationship with her blood relatives.

Elsie’s Moment of Relief

Luckily, Benjamin had quit his job at the club and joined the police department; making a detective of the police. Elsie’s close friend Wanzer, who is also a detective together with Benjamin believe that Elsie was framed for the murder and embark on finding the real murderer. In the due course of their investigation, Benjamin and Wanzer realize that there was a secret affair between Mrs. Green’s husband and Elsie’s aunt. They decide to use this to their advantage to confront John and accuse him of the murder but he refuses to confess. In retaliation, Benjamin and Wanzer take John to the haunted Tolston’s Castle and threaten to tie him up. On realizing that being tied up and left at that place would only leave him at the mercy of ghosts, John decides to confess in order to salvage himself from the torment. Later on in the scene, the Governor pardon’s Elsie and out of the gratitude and affection Elsie marries Benjamin.

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