The Quiet One (1948)

15 Mar
Director Sidney Meyers
Producer Janice Loeb
Contributors Starring Donald Thompson; screenplay & editing Helen Levitt, Janice Loeb, Sidney Meyers; commentary & dialogue James Agee; narrator Gary Merrill; music Ulysses Kay; made in cooperation with the Wiltwyck School for Boys, at Esopus, N.Y.
Length  67 minutes
B&W/Color b&w
UO Library Catalog description: A documentary account of the rehabilitation at the Wiltwyck School of an emotionally disturbed Negro boy who is unwanted, misunderstood, and inwardly tortured.
Call #  Mc32
Genre  Documentary
Rare  No
Online  Yes
Copyright status  Public Domain
Physical condition  Poor
Oregon-related  No


Dubbed a “genuine masterpiece” by the New York Times, The Quiet One documents a 10 year old African American boy during his time at the Wiltwyck School for Boys. Loathed and essentially abandoned by his family, Donald Peters was sent away after falling into a deep depression. During his time spent at Wiltwyck, psychiatrists were slowly able to gain his trust and council him through his trauma.

Although a black actor was selected to play the part of Donald, his race had nothing to do with the movie; instead, the director chose to focus on the boy’s psychological issues and the process of his recovery.

While the issue of race is never commented on in the documentary, Wiltwyck originally opened its doors to African American children in 1936, and then transitioned into an interracial school in 1942. It was heavily financially supported by Eleanor Roosevelt until her death in 1962. Without her help, Wiltwyck was unable to continue and shut down in 1981.

One Response to “The Quiet One (1948)”


  1. Mental Health Association of Portland » Blog Archive » Friday Night Flicks: The Quiet One - September 7, 2012

    […] 16 MM Lost & Found: Dubbed a “genuine masterpiece” by the New York Times, The Quiet One documents a 10 year old […]

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