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47 minutes ago, laffite said:

She actually identifies herself as a "negro" in her first scene. Which makes everything about the issue worse.

Oh God.

Sounds like JENNIFER JONES'S "I am Eurasian" bit from LOVE IS A MANY SPLENDORED THING.

PEOPLE DO NOT INTRODUCE THEMSELVES LIKE THAT!

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7 minutes ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

Oh God.

Sounds like JENNIFER JONES'S "I am Eurasian" bit from LOVE IS A MANY SPLENDORED THING.

PEOPLE DO NOT INTRODUCE THEMSELVES LIKE THAT!

Yeah, I'd say that that is probably true, Lorna.

At least I know when I introduce myself to others, I'll sometimes just offer up the self-description of "an acquired taste" and leave it at that.

They usually find out in short order that that indeed turns out to be very true, and with many of 'em never acquiring it.

(...eeeh, but that's their loss, I always say)

;)

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32 minutes ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

Oh God.

Sounds like JENNIFER JONES'S "I am Eurasian" bit from LOVE IS A MANY SPLENDORED THING.

PEOPLE DO NOT INTRODUCE THEMSELVES LIKE THAT!

Well, it's not like she said, "Glad to meet you. My name is Molly and I am a negro." In that scene, she has become a person of interest and what she actually says is, "Oh, no one will believe me. Not in this town. I'm a negro."

 

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57 minutes ago, laffite said:

Should we at least  be grateful that she didn't attempt an inflection or a drawl (or something of that nature)?

Yes, we should, be grateful that is. Good point.

Look, sure, there's no doubt the role should have been given to a black actress, but given the task that Mary Anderson was given in this thing, I say she gave the role her all and gave the Molly character a measure of dignity, and thankfully didn't resort to blackface and/or a stereotype in her performance.

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3 hours ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

Oh God.

Sounds like JENNIFER JONES'S "I am Eurasian" bit from LOVE IS A MANY SPLENDORED THING.

PEOPLE DO NOT INTRODUCE THEMSELVES LIKE THAT!

She had to announce it because she didn't look like it! (Underworld Story)

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16 hours ago, Dargo said:

Actually, I never thought the two Lois Lanes on the '50s "The Adventures of Superman" series looked all that much alike, Vautrin.

I always thought Phyllis Coates had a more mature and patrician appearance, and whereas Noel Neill always looked to me as if she could still almost play juvenile roles at that time and with a much softer appearance.

(...I believe Noel was much more diminutive than Phyllis, also)

I did. Not that they were indistinguishable, but I saw similarities. Of course that's without the aid of X-Ray vision.

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19 minutes ago, Vautrin said:

I did. Not that they were indistinguishable, but I saw similarities. Of course that's without the aid of X-Ray vision.

If you ever acquire the X-Ray vision function, file a report.

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One more comment re: casting. So many non-Jewish actors and actresses have played Jews (film, TV, etc.).  Robert De Niro, Shirley M., and Al Pacino come to mind.  If they do a good job, it doesn't bother me.  For me, there was only Cote De Pablo's Ziva David on NCIS.  She is neither Israeli or Jewish, but I wouldn't want them to recast the role.  Same goes for Michael Nouri, who played her father (head of Mossad).

There is an interesting piece on TCM about Fred Astaire and blackface.  In one of his movies (The Bandwagon?) he dressed in blackface and a "loud" outfit as a tribute to Bill Robinson.  Trouble was, as it was pointed out in piece, Bill Robinson often dressed in tails or other formal wear.

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1 hour ago, laffite said:

If you ever acquire the X-Ray vision function, file a report.

I'd probably keep it secret for a little while.

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4 hours ago, Dargo said:

 

Look, sure, there's no doubt the role should have been given to a black actress, but given the task that Mary Anderson was given in this thing, I say she gave the role her all and gave the Molly character a measure of dignity, and thankfully didn't resort to blackface and/or a stereotype in her performance.

I agree. Anderson gives an understated performance and doesn't embarrass black people by representing them. It's the damn movie (much as I rather like it in many other respects) and the studio system itself that was an embarrassment for the insult to have cast a Caucasian actress in this role. The fact that her character disappears in the film shows how much the filmmakers gave any kind of real damn about her character anyway.

Look, I can understand a studio mogul like Zanuck being afraid to cast a film like Pinky with a black actress in the lead role (much as it makes our teeth grit today) because of box office concerns. But, hell, were Southern movie audiences in 1950 really so filled with hatred that they would refuse to see a little film like Underworld Story (which concentrates on a BLACK PERSON accused of murder after all) because the SMALL ROLE  is actually played by a black person? Why would they care? Does that make sense, or were the producers of this film simply gutless cowards who decided not to take any chances so, what the hell, "let's put a white chick in the part to keep our white audiences happy." I see this casting as being more of a gutless producer decision than anything else. Maybe I'm naive about the degree of bigotry that existed in 1950 over a SMALL (!!!) role being played by a black actress, especially when the character she's playing is black.

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The director was blacklisted.     Looks like he was aware of how having certain political views could impact ones' ability to operate in Hollywood based on how a segment of society felt at the time. 

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4 hours ago, chaya bat woof woof said:

There is an interesting piece on TCM about Fred Astaire and blackface.  In one of his movies (The Bandwagon?) he dressed in blackface and a "loud" outfit as a tribute to Bill Robinson.  Trouble was, as it was pointed out in piece, Bill Robinson often dressed in tails or other formal wear.

Not The Bandwagon. I think it was Swing Time, right? And I saw that piece as well. It was pretty well produced.

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6 hours ago, TomJH said:

But, hell, were Southern movie audiences in 1950 really so filled with hatred that they would refuse to see a little film like Underworld Story (which concentrates on a BLACK PERSON accused of murder after all) because the SMALL ROLE  is actually played by a black person? Why would they care? Does that make sense, or were the producers of this film simply gutless cowards who decided not to take any chances so, what the hell, "let's put a white chick in the part to keep our white audiences happy." I see this casting as being more of a gutless producer decision than anything else. Maybe I'm naive about the degree of bigotry that existed in 1950 over a SMALL (!!!) role being played by a black actress, especially when the character she's playing is black.

Well Tom, all I can tell ya here is that there was probably a very good reason one of your fellow countrymen would write a song titled "Southern Man", AND he wrote it a whole twenty years AFTER this movie was initially released! ;)

(...but yeah, and re the rest of your comment here, sure, I'd also say that IF in fact Mary Anderson WAS cast because of some concern about this film being boycotted in the South if a black woman HAD been cast instead, it DEFINITELY speaks to a cowardly decision made by the person or persons who made it...there's no argument HERE in this regard, my ol' Canadian friend)

 

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8 hours ago, Dargo said:

Well Tom, all I can tell ya here is that there was probably a very good reason one of your fellow countrymen would write a song titled "Southern Man", AND he wrote it a whole twenty years AFTER this movie was initially released! ;)

(...but yeah, and re the rest of your comment here, sure, I'd also say that IF in fact Mary Anderson WAS cast because of some concern about this film being boycotted in the South if a black woman HAD been cast instead, it DEFINITELY speaks to a cowardly decision made by the person or persons who made it...there's no argument HERE in this regard, my ol' Canadian friend)

 

It's a film whose story touches on racial prejudice anyway. The producers had to know right off the bat that box office sales in the South might be impacted by that fact moreso than the actual casting of a role in the film by an African American. Going right back to the days of The Birth of a Nation, of course, Hollywood had been notorious for casting white actors as blacks (among other races) in movies. The industry started to become more socially conscious after the war but it was a slow process and, as always, dependant upon the box office, dictated, to a large extent, by primarily white audiences.

I've got a question for anyone who might be up on this more than myself. Was Mary Anderson in Underworld Story the last time that a Caucasian played an African American in the movies? Can anyone think of any other instance after 1950 (the year of this film's release) when the role of a black character was played by an actor or actress who WASN'T black?

Of course there would still be countless times after that when Caucasians were employed playing Indians in westerns or south seas natives (Debra Paget, among others). And there was also Mickey Rooney and Alec Guinness adding to the insult as Orientals. But, as far as black characters were concerned, weren't they the ones that lead the way to being consistently cast by actors who were of that race? My point is that I suspect Underworld Story might be about the last time the movies did this kind of thing.

 

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I've got a question for anyone who might be up on this more than myself. Was Mary Anderson in Underworld Story the last time that a Caucasian played an African American in the movies? Can anyone think of any other instance after 1950 (the year of this film's release) when the role of a black character was played by an actor or actress who WASN'T black?

One example off the top of my head are several film adaptations of Othello.    He is described as a "Moor"  but was often portrayed by a white actor in blackface.   

One  with Laurence Olivier from 1965:  

image.jpeg.68602520c3755889bad715ff4be35d70.jpeg

 

 Orson Wells was also in a  version in 1952 (he interpreted Othello more as an North African Arab ) 

image.jpeg.6b03aba4dcc8c0b7bc1c458e2c7d5027.jpeg

 

I don't think think these were examples of casting white actors for US Southern Region Box office reasons-  it was pretty common to cast white actors in this role until fairly recently.   

The only other examples I can think of is Keenan Wynn in "Finian's Rainbow".    This was done for satire so doesn't really count in what you're after.   

 

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Interesting remarks about Othello.  Does anyone know whether Paul Robson ever played him on stage?  He would have been magnificent (great singer, actor, athlete, and jurist).  He could have achieved so much more in this country if he wasn't black.  My Father's Cousin and her long time companion were friends with his son.  My Mom saw Lawrence Fishbourne (sp?) in the role at Stratford Ontario roughly 15 years ago, and, while it might have been the director's fault, she said he was dreadful.

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6 minutes ago, sewhite2000 said:

Yes, with Kenneth Branagh as Iago and Irene Jacob as Desdemonia. From 1995

And it’s not too bad, as I recall...Although it’s been a very long time since I saw it.

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Does anyone know whether Paul Robson ever played him on stage?

Yes, I think he played the role in Great Britain in the late 1930s and then on Broadway in the early 1940s.    

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2 hours ago, CallMeTim said:

One example off the top of my head are several film adaptations of Othello.    He is described as a "Moor"  but was often portrayed by a white actor in blackface.   

One  with Laurence Olivier from 1965:  

image.jpeg.68602520c3755889bad715ff4be35d70.jpeg

 

 Orson Wells was also in a  version in 1952 (he interpreted Othello more as an North African Arab ) 

image.jpeg.6b03aba4dcc8c0b7bc1c458e2c7d5027.jpeg

 

I don't think think these were examples of casting white actors for US Southern Region Box office reasons-  it was pretty common to cast white actors in this role until fairly recently.   

The only other examples I can think of is Keenan Wynn in "Finian's Rainbow".    This was done for satire so doesn't really count in what you're after.   

 

Thanks Tim. I hadn't thought of Othello, which has a centuries old stage tradition of casting white actors as the Moor (although a few black actors have played the part, too) but the movies continuing that tradition.

Aside from a film adaption of Shakespeare, though, can anyone think of any other films since 1950 that cast a white actor as a black character?

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1 hour ago, TomJH said:

Thanks Tim. I hadn't thought of Othello, which has a centuries old stage tradition of casting white actors as the Moor (although a few black actors have played the part, too) but the movies continuing that tradition.

Aside from a film adaption of Shakespeare, though, can anyone think of any other films since 1950 that cast a white actor as a black character?

Was Cleopatra of African descent? Or was she Greek?

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11 minutes ago, speedracer5 said:

Was Cleopatra of African descent? Or was she Greek?

According to Wiki:

Cleopatra VII Philopator (Koinē Greek: Κλεοπάτρα Φιλοπάτωρ, Kleopátra Philopátōr;[5] 69 – 10 or 12 August 30 BC)[note 2] was the last active ruler of the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt.[note 5] As a member of the Ptolemaic dynasty, she was a descendant of its founder Ptolemy I Soter, a Macedonian Greek general and companion of Alexander the Great

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