Claudine


1h 32m 1974
Claudine

Brief Synopsis

A single mother falls for a garbage collector who's not sure he's ready to raise six children.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Comedy
Drama
Release Date
Jan 1974
Premiere Information
not available
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 32m
Color
Color

Synopsis

Claudine, a single mother of six living in Harlem, falls in love with a garbage collector, Rupert. Complicating their relationship is the fact that marrying would cause her to lose the welfare that helps her support her children and her eldest son's distrust of Rupert.

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Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Comedy
Drama
Release Date
Jan 1974
Premiere Information
not available
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 32m
Color
Color

Award Nominations

Best Actress

1974
Diahann Carroll

Articles

Claudine


Most people don't known that James Earl Jones auditioned for the role of Shaft (1971), but turned it down. The early '70s were a difficult time for nuanced, theatre trained African-American actors like Jones whose screen presence didn't lend itself well to jive-talking in "blaxsploitation movies" (a term coined by Variety). The self described "farm boy from Mississippi" whose sonorous voice had not yet found its pop culture apex as part of Darth Vader found greater satisfaction in stage projects like performing King Lear in Central Park. But a phone call from the actress Diana Sands lured Jones back to movies in Claudine (1974), a unique love story about a single mother of six (Diahann Carroll) who finds unlikely love with garbage man Roop (James Earl Jones) as they both struggle to get ahead in a system that's gamed against them.

The film was the first project produced by Third World Cinema Corporation, an idealistic partnership spearheaded by big names like Ossie Davis and Sands (and bankrolled by multiple urban improvement grants) that sought to not only train minorities in the art of motion picture production through the affiliated Institute of the New Cinema Artist, but to produce projects like Claudine that presented an alternative, honest, and dignified image of African-American life on screen. To helm the film, they tapped John Berry, a white screenwriter/director who nevertheless understood something about discrimination from his time on the McCarthy blacklist. The husband and wife screenwriting team of Lester and Tina Pine originally envisioned the story taking place in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles, but when Third World optioned the story, the setting was moved to New York City - a change that suited Bronx native Diahann Carroll just fine.

Carroll and Jones were not the first choice for the roles of Claudine and Roop. Diana Sands and Bernie Hamilton (of Starsky and Hutch fame) were originally slated for the roles, but tragically, Sands knew she was ill with the cancer that would take her life in September 1973. Yet she insisted on continuing rehearsals even in her weakened state, just to reassure the young actors in the cast, but soon she knew she'd have to shuffle the casting to Carroll and Jones; the latter, who was an old friend, remarked he knew something was wrong when she winced in pain during a romantic scene. Carroll would deliberately deglamorize herself as Claudine, wearing brushed-back hairdos that emphasized her square forehead and dresses that didn't hide her "knock knees", but she had nothing but admiration for the role she described in her autobiography The Legs Are Last To Go as "gritty, real, an honest black woman working her tail off."

Jones used his country roots to inform the character of Roop. Rather than adopt the pose of the superfly "brother" currently in fashion, Jones created a private back story for Roop, assuming he was, like him, a transplanted country boy who knew the value of courting and wooing a lady. The love scenes between Claudine and Roop are exceptionally tender, sensual, and real, with moments like Roop pouring his lady a hot bubble bath (with Joy detergent) only to discover the exhausted mom has fallen asleep in the tub. (Jones, a character actor not usually cast as romantic lead, also remarked that this film marked "the first time I ever got butt naked in front of a camera.")

The end result did well at the box office ($6 million, in a year when The Towering Inferno topped the charts with $48 million) and was, as the New York Times described, "a financial and critical success", with an Oscar® nomination for Carroll and Golden Globe and NAACP Image awards for Jones. The Claudine soundtrack tunes like "Mr. Welfare Man" and "Make Yours a Happy Home", written by Curtis Mayfield and performed by Gladys Knight and the Pips, hit as high as #2 on the R&B charts.

Judith Crist, writing for New York magazine, applauded the self-awareness of the characters while remarking how, despite the authentic African-American focus, Claudine was "more importantly, about people and alien to no one." But this maiden project for the Third World Cinema Corporation was also their last, as Nixon's reelection gutted the social programs on whose funding they were dependent. Still, to this day, Jones counts Claudine among his favorite films, and notes that playing Roop, the honorable garbage man in love, gave him "more satisfaction than any of my other films."

Producer: Hannah Weinstein
Director: John Berry
Screenplay: Lester Pine, Tina Pine
Cinematography: Gayne Rescher
Art Direction: Ben Kasazkow
Music: Curtis Mayfield
Film Editing: Louis San Andres
Cast: Diahann Carroll (Claudine), James Earl Jones (Roop), Lawrence Hilton-Jacques (Charles), Tamu Blackwell (Charlene (as Tamu), David Kruger (Paul), Yvette Curtis (Patrice), Eric Jones (Francis), Socorro Stephens (Lurlene), Adam Wade (Owen), Harrison Avery (Minister)
C-92m.

by Violet LeVoit

References:
Lev, Peter. American films of the '70s: conflicting visions. University of Texas Press, 2000.
Carroll, Diahann.The Legs Are the Last to Go: Aging, Acting, Marrying, and Other Things I Learned the Hard Way. Amistad, 2008
"Davis Heads Minority Controlled Motion Picture Corporation". Jet, March 11, 1971
Berry, Torriano and Venise T. Berry. The 50 most influential Black films: a celebration of African-American talent, determination, and creativity. Citadel Press, 2002.
Rhines, Jesse Algeron. Black Film, White Money. Rutgers University Press, 1996.
Jones, James Earl and Penelope Niven. Voices and silences. Limelight, 2004.
Claudine

Claudine

Most people don't known that James Earl Jones auditioned for the role of Shaft (1971), but turned it down. The early '70s were a difficult time for nuanced, theatre trained African-American actors like Jones whose screen presence didn't lend itself well to jive-talking in "blaxsploitation movies" (a term coined by Variety). The self described "farm boy from Mississippi" whose sonorous voice had not yet found its pop culture apex as part of Darth Vader found greater satisfaction in stage projects like performing King Lear in Central Park. But a phone call from the actress Diana Sands lured Jones back to movies in Claudine (1974), a unique love story about a single mother of six (Diahann Carroll) who finds unlikely love with garbage man Roop (James Earl Jones) as they both struggle to get ahead in a system that's gamed against them. The film was the first project produced by Third World Cinema Corporation, an idealistic partnership spearheaded by big names like Ossie Davis and Sands (and bankrolled by multiple urban improvement grants) that sought to not only train minorities in the art of motion picture production through the affiliated Institute of the New Cinema Artist, but to produce projects like Claudine that presented an alternative, honest, and dignified image of African-American life on screen. To helm the film, they tapped John Berry, a white screenwriter/director who nevertheless understood something about discrimination from his time on the McCarthy blacklist. The husband and wife screenwriting team of Lester and Tina Pine originally envisioned the story taking place in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles, but when Third World optioned the story, the setting was moved to New York City - a change that suited Bronx native Diahann Carroll just fine. Carroll and Jones were not the first choice for the roles of Claudine and Roop. Diana Sands and Bernie Hamilton (of Starsky and Hutch fame) were originally slated for the roles, but tragically, Sands knew she was ill with the cancer that would take her life in September 1973. Yet she insisted on continuing rehearsals even in her weakened state, just to reassure the young actors in the cast, but soon she knew she'd have to shuffle the casting to Carroll and Jones; the latter, who was an old friend, remarked he knew something was wrong when she winced in pain during a romantic scene. Carroll would deliberately deglamorize herself as Claudine, wearing brushed-back hairdos that emphasized her square forehead and dresses that didn't hide her "knock knees", but she had nothing but admiration for the role she described in her autobiography The Legs Are Last To Go as "gritty, real, an honest black woman working her tail off." Jones used his country roots to inform the character of Roop. Rather than adopt the pose of the superfly "brother" currently in fashion, Jones created a private back story for Roop, assuming he was, like him, a transplanted country boy who knew the value of courting and wooing a lady. The love scenes between Claudine and Roop are exceptionally tender, sensual, and real, with moments like Roop pouring his lady a hot bubble bath (with Joy detergent) only to discover the exhausted mom has fallen asleep in the tub. (Jones, a character actor not usually cast as romantic lead, also remarked that this film marked "the first time I ever got butt naked in front of a camera.") The end result did well at the box office ($6 million, in a year when The Towering Inferno topped the charts with $48 million) and was, as the New York Times described, "a financial and critical success", with an Oscar® nomination for Carroll and Golden Globe and NAACP Image awards for Jones. The Claudine soundtrack tunes like "Mr. Welfare Man" and "Make Yours a Happy Home", written by Curtis Mayfield and performed by Gladys Knight and the Pips, hit as high as #2 on the R&B charts. Judith Crist, writing for New York magazine, applauded the self-awareness of the characters while remarking how, despite the authentic African-American focus, Claudine was "more importantly, about people and alien to no one." But this maiden project for the Third World Cinema Corporation was also their last, as Nixon's reelection gutted the social programs on whose funding they were dependent. Still, to this day, Jones counts Claudine among his favorite films, and notes that playing Roop, the honorable garbage man in love, gave him "more satisfaction than any of my other films." Producer: Hannah Weinstein Director: John Berry Screenplay: Lester Pine, Tina Pine Cinematography: Gayne Rescher Art Direction: Ben Kasazkow Music: Curtis Mayfield Film Editing: Louis San Andres Cast: Diahann Carroll (Claudine), James Earl Jones (Roop), Lawrence Hilton-Jacques (Charles), Tamu Blackwell (Charlene (as Tamu), David Kruger (Paul), Yvette Curtis (Patrice), Eric Jones (Francis), Socorro Stephens (Lurlene), Adam Wade (Owen), Harrison Avery (Minister) C-92m. by Violet LeVoit References: Lev, Peter. American films of the '70s: conflicting visions. University of Texas Press, 2000. Carroll, Diahann.The Legs Are the Last to Go: Aging, Acting, Marrying, and Other Things I Learned the Hard Way. Amistad, 2008 "Davis Heads Minority Controlled Motion Picture Corporation". Jet, March 11, 1971 Berry, Torriano and Venise T. Berry. The 50 most influential Black films: a celebration of African-American talent, determination, and creativity. Citadel Press, 2002. Rhines, Jesse Algeron. Black Film, White Money. Rutgers University Press, 1996. Jones, James Earl and Penelope Niven. Voices and silences. Limelight, 2004.

Quotes

Trivia

Diana Sands was chosen for the female lead role, but she died of cancer shortly before shooting of the film began.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1974

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1974