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Spotlight: The Black Experience in Film


misswonderly3
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Has anyone already started a thread about this? I didn't see one... Anyway, I'm delighted to see this feature in TCM's programming this month. It includes quite a few rare films, including at least one by Oscar Micheaux, a director whose work I've always wanted to see.

I'm also looking forward to Anna Lucasta, The Learning Tree, and several others, some of which I'm pretty sure are new to TCM.

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Here's the complete line-up:

 

AAFCA PRESENTS: THE BLACK EXPERIENCE ON FILM - TUES & THURS IN SEPTEMBER

RONDA RACHA PENRICE ON WITHIN OUR GATES

CLAYTON DAVIS ON AMERICAN REPRESENTATION THROUGH THE BLACK EXPERIENCE ON SCREEN

9/4 - EXPLORING BLACK IDENTITY

   WITHIN OUR GATES

   IMITATION OF LIFE (1934)

   PINKY

   DAUGHTERS OF THE DUST

9/6 - HOLLYWOOD CONFRONTS RACISM

   A RAISIN IN THE SUN

   TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

   A SOLDIER'S STORY

   INTRUDER IN THE DUST

9/11 - AFRICAN-AMERICANS COMING OF AGE

   COOLEY HIGH

   SOUNDER

   BRIGHT ROAD

   THE LEARNING TREE

9/13 - BLACK ROMANCE IN FILM

   ANNA LUCASTA

   A WARM DECEMBER

   A PATCH OF BLUE

   ONE POTATO, TWO POTATO

9/18 - AFRICAN-AMERICAN MUSICALS

   CARMEN JONES

   CABIN IN THE SKY

   NEW ORLEANS

   HALLELUJAH!

9/20 - STRONG BLACK WOMEN

   CLAUDINE

   SPARKLE

   LOSING GROUND

   CLEOPATRA JONES

9/25 - AFRICAN-AMERICAN COMEDIES

   HOLLYWOOD SHUFFLE

   STIR CRAZY

   WATERMELON MAN

   GREASED LIGHTNING

9/27 - BLACK STORIES FROM AROUND THE WORLD

   BLACK GIRL

   CRY, THE BELOVED COUNTRY (1951)

   BLACK ORPHEUS

   WALKABOUT (1971)

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"The Learning Tree" and "Stir Crazy" were historically significant motion pictures. 

The former film, released by Warner Bros./Seven Arts in 1969, was the first picture written, produced and directed for a major studio by a black filmmaker (in this case the renowned photographer Gordon Parks, Sr. He went on to direct the first two installments of the "Shaft" detective trilogy of the 1970s).

Image result for gordon parks the learning tree

The latter effort, a Columbia Pictures comedy that starred Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor, was directed by Sidney Poitier. The "buddy" film grossed more than $100 million at the domestic box-office in 1980, making it the first picture by a black director to earn that much money. It went on to become the year's third-highest grossing film -- behind "The Empire Strikes Back" and "9 to 5."

Image result for sidney poitier richard pryor gene wilder

 

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1 hour ago, LawrenceA said:

 

9/20 - STRONG BLACK WOMEN

   CLAUDINE

   SPARKLE

   LOSING GROUND

   CLEOPATRA JONES

 

I'm disappointed. TCM should have included Coffy so we get to see Pam Grier blow the head off a "mother-blanking dope pusher." Now that was one strong woman.

Dud0Gkq.png

 

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6 minutes ago, scsu1975 said:

I'm disappointed. TCM should have included Coffy so we get to see Pam Grier blow the head off a "mother-blanking dope pusher." Now that was one strong woman.

Cleopatra Jones, played in two movies by the late Tamara Dobson, was no slouch! 

Image result for cleopatra jones

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7 minutes ago, NipkowDisc said:

the only 2 decent films listed in my opinion are a raisin in the sun and claudine because the film sets African-americans in believable real life situations and it is a slight to black America that there were not more films like those.

You're overlooking the greatness of Norman Jewison's film "A Soldier's Story." The 1984 Oscar-nominated drama is the story of a murder probe involving an all-black military unit in Louisiana during World War II. The investigator (played by the late Howard E. Rollins, Jr.) is black. So is the victim. And most of the suspects. And the culprit. 

The film, based on Charles Fuller's 1981 stage drama "A Soldier's Play," also provided a breakthrough screen role for Denzel Washington. Until then, he was mostly known for his work in the long-running NBC drama series "St. Elsewhere." 

a-soldier-s-story-1984.jpg

Washington and 1984 Oscar nominee Adolph Caesar in "A Soldier's Story"

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5 hours ago, arpirose said:

They ignored STORMY WEATHER in the musical category.  Watch the Nicolas Brothers, who are introduced by the great Cab Calloway.

 

 

That dance number is amazing. Last year I was obsessed with it and watched it at least once a week and then watched everything I could find on the Nicholas Brothers on the internet. Underrated and under utilized talents.  

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TCM has a great lineup of African American movies playing this month, some, like Pinky, I’ve never seen before. After viewing Pinky, I felt it was bold for its time, a black woman goes up against the system and wins.

On one hand, the movie was trying to be progressive, but at the same time, the decision to cast Jeanne Crain, a white actress, seemed as timid as MGM doing the same thing with Show Boat.  I guess it was just too much to cast a black actress such as Lena Horne or Dorothy Dandridge to play Pink. 

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On 9/3/2018 at 4:00 PM, NipkowDisc said:

the only 2 decent films listed in my opinion are a raisin in the sun and claudine because the film sets African-americans in believable real life situations and it is a slight to black America that there were not more films like those.

 

 

On 9/3/2018 at 4:00 PM, NipkowDisc said:

the only 2 decent films listed in my opinion are a raisin in the sun and claudine because the film sets African-americans in believable real life situations and it is a slight to black America that there were not more films like those.

 

I am confused, who gets to decide and what is considered “believable” for African Americans?  We lived through the Jim Crow years depicted in Sounder, many people understand and lived Cooley High, Sparkle is like a fictional telling of the Supremes,  we also have been present in the military since the Revolutionary War, so what is not realistic about A Soldiers Story? I could go on, perhap this isn’t relatable to you, but many of these movies are very relatable to me and my community. 

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I don't think anyone has mentioned Alfre Woodard. I caught her in A Mother's Courage: The Mary Thomas Story some years ago on BET. A mother trying to keep her nine children on the up and up in a rough neighborhood. One of the children is Isiah Thomas, the basketball star. But it's more about the mom and her trials. Isiah's life is covered through his teenage years.

Another one that comes to mind is Miss Evers' Boys, the story behind the infamous Tuskagee syphilis experiments that were conducted over a 30-year period. Reading about the details of this will drive you up a wall. Miss Woodard plays a nurse who was close to all who were subjects in the study and continually offered her love and support. But how much did she know about what's going on?

Alfre Woodard has an impressive resume with many credits. She is not as well known as she should be, so it seemeth me. Check her Wikipedia page, if interested.

///////

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The movie, COOLEY HIGH was pretty popular up here in the "D", where there IS a Cooley High School. It was named after a 19th century Chief justice of the Michign supreme court, opened in 1928, and closed in 2010.

Not at the time an "exclusive" African-American school, it really wasn't until the mid '50's or so that the neighborhood it's located in and so too the student body became mostly African-American. How the film makers came to use that name I don't really know.  I too, haven't seen it.  But did work at GM with a few guys(African-Americans) that attended that school.  And of course, HAD to go see the movie when it came out!  ;)

Sepiatone

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10 hours ago, starryeyzze said:

 

I am confused, who gets to decide and what is considered “believable” for African Americans?  We lived through the Jim Crow years depicted in Sounder, many people understand and lived Cooley High, Sparkle is like a fictional telling of the Supremes,  we also have been present in the military since the Revolutionary War, so what is not realistic about A Soldiers Story? I could go on, perhap this isn’t relatable to you, but many of these movies are very relatable to me and my community. 

TCM assigns programmers they believe represents the so called African American community.   Of course no single person or even group of persons can represent an entire group as large as African Americans.    The folly here is the use of the term 'community';  as in everyone in such a 'community' has similar feelings,  beliefs and values.   

 

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The best films about the black experience are probably the ones made in the last few years: Moonlight, Get Out, 12 Years a Slave, Straight out of Compton, The Butler, Black Panther, I'm Not Your Negro, Loving, Hidden Figures, 13th, etc.  Even O.J.: Made in America (the 7-hour documentary), which only looks indirectly at the black experience, is very perspective and insightful in that aspect.  We are currently without question in the midst of a black new wave of films that will be historically significant many years from now.  Even those Madea movies serve much needed purpose in this respect.  The goals of these films are usually to (a) eradicate past stereotypes of, (b) reflect reality of, and (c) project positive images of black people.  The Madea movies, as well as "blaxploitation" films of the past and present, don't achieve (b) and (c), but they do achieve (a).

We have to go back decades to see the previous wave of significant black films, from filmmakers like Spike Lee, John Singleton, the Hughes Brothers, etc.

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I would have added:

Sweet Love Bitter (1967) A Jazz Noir, based on the novel Night Song by John Alfred Williams. The story is inspired by the life of jazz musician Charlie Parker.

Bird (1988) another about life and career of the jazz musician, Charlie "Bird" Parker.

And what about a "Strong Black Men" category 

Shaft (1971) Neo Noir Detective film directed by Gordon Parks?

Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song (1971) directed by Melvin Van Peebles?

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3 hours ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

TCM assigns programmers they believe represents the so called African American community.   Of course no single person or even group of persons can represent an entire group as large as African Americans.    The folly here is the use of the term 'community';  as in everyone in such a 'community' has similar feelings,  beliefs and values.   

 

You're fooling yourself if you don't believe there's a black community in the United States based on shared history and experiences -- and the duality of being both black and American.

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13 minutes ago, jakeem said:

You're fooling yourself if you don't believe there's a black community in the United States based on shared history and experiences -- and the duality of being both black and American.

You're fooling yourself if you believe they all think alike,  have the same values,  as well as the same perspective as it relates to their experiences as an African-American.

E.g. Kanye West and Clarence Thomas are not members of the same 'community' as Van Jones and Don Lemon.

And getting back to movies;  would you really welcome either West or Thomas selecting films for this Black Experience tribute?      They would clearly pick different films than Van Jones and Don Lemon.

 

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