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Hollywood Black - 5/6


Prolific author, historian and TCM friend Donald Bogle hosts a night of films he has chosen in tandem with the release of his newest book, Hollywood Black: The Stars, the Films, the Filmmakers. The book is an overview of black contribution in films from the silent era through Black Panther (2018). On Bogle's work, filmmaker Spike Lee has stated, "Let's all nod in appreciation to Donald Bogle for putting everything in historical perspective...Mr. Bogle continues to be our most noted Black-cinema historian."

An instructor at New York University's Tisch School of Arts and the University of Pennsylvania, Bogle specializes in books concerning African Americans in film and television. His other books include Toms, Coons, Mulattoes, Mammies and Bucks: An Interpretative History of Blacks in Films; Brown Sugar: Eighty Years of America's Black Female Superstars; and Heat Wave: The Life and Career of Ethel Waters.

Bogle has enjoyed a close association with TCM and was a guest at this year's TCM Film Festival. He conceived and co-hosted the channel's 38-film series called Race and Hollywood, tracing depictions of African Americans in Hollywood from the silent period to Spike Lee's Get on the Bus (1996). Bogle also was one of the commentators for the seven-part documentary series on the history of Hollywood titled Moguls and Movie Stars (2010). Below are the films he'll be discussing in connection with Hollywood Black.

Cabin in the Sky (1943), Vincente Minnelli's film version of the 1940 all-black Broadway musical, is also featured this month as one of TCM's "Essentials."

Bright Road (1953), adapted from the Christopher Award-winning short story "See How They Run" by Mary Elizabeth Vroman, tells of a first-year elementary teacher (Dorothy Dandridge) in rural Alabama who takes a special interest in a problem student. Gerald Mayer directed a mostly-black cast that also includes Harry Belafonte in his film debut as the school principal.

A Raisin in the Sun (1961) is the first film version of Lorraine Hansberry's highly praised 1959 play about a black family living on Chicago's South Side and dreaming of a better life. Hansberry wrote the screenplay, Daniel Petrie directed, and the cast includes Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee, Claudia McNeil and Diana Sands.

Shaft (1971) stars Richard Roundtree as the private detective who became the leading hero of "blaxploitation"-era action movies. Gordon Parks directed this influential film, and Isaac Hayes won an Oscar for his original song. The film inspired a multi-media franchise that has included four film sequels with Roundtree and three more with other actors (Samuel L. Jackson and Jessie Usher) playing relatives of Shaft. The character also appears in a series of novels, comic books, TV shows and advertisements.

Within Our Gates (1920) is a silent film portraying the turbulent situation of race relations in the U.S. in the early 1900s. The movie is produced, written and directed by Oscar Micheaux, credited with being the first major African-American filmmaker and the most successful black filmmaker of the first half of the 20th century.

The Jackie Robinson Story (1950) tells the story of the first African-American Major League Baseball player and his battles with bigotry and racism. Robinson plays himself under the direction of Alfred E. Green, with Ruby Dee as the college sweetheart he marries and Minor Watson as Branch Rickey, president of the Brooklyn Dodgers.

by Roger Fristoe
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