A radical new story looks back on 100 years of noir cinema

The first chapter of Wil Haygood’s sleek and well-done history book, “Colorization: One Hundred Years of Black Films in a White World,” ...


The first chapter of Wil Haygood’s sleek and well-done history book, “Colorization: One Hundred Years of Black Films in a White World,” is titled “Woodrow Wilson’s White House Movie Night.”

The film was “The Birth of a Nation” (1915), DW Griffith’s notorious silent epic, filled with flying white robes, about the noble intention of the Ku Klux Klan. He portrays blacks as criminals, sex demons and spectacle-eyed fools, in a stealth league with the upholsterers of the North.

It was the first such screening at the White House, and the president had a stake in the film’s success. On the one hand, it was based on a popular novel, “The Clansman,” written by his friend Thomas Dixon Jr. On the other hand, the President made an appearance of sorts. Griffith had adapted some of Wilson’s writing for interstitial explanatory frameworks.

“The Birth of a Nation” became a sensation, the first blockbuster, seen by about a quarter of the American population. And it became grimly obvious, writes Haygood, that black people “still have one more enemy: the cinema.”

“Colorization” is Haygood’s ninth book. He wrote biographies of Thurgood marshall, Adam Clayton Powell Jr., Robinson Sugar Ray and Sammy Davis Jr.

Some prolific non-fiction writers are slowly getting gloomy; you feel them, in their later books, going through the movements, rounding the angles. Haygood, on the other hand, has become a master craftsman, whose carpentry is seamless.

“Colorization” tells the story of black artists in the film industry, those in front of and behind the camera, spanning over a century. Some of these stories go unrecognized. It’s a radical story, but in Haygood’s hands it feels crisp, urgent, and uncluttered. He does not seek to be encyclopedic. He takes a story he needs, tells it well, and ties it to the next one. It takes you into impartial analyzes and often romantic details.

He goes from “The Birth of a Nation” to tell the story of Oscar Micheaux (1884-1951), the former doorman Pullman, plains farmer and novelist who almost single-handedly created black cinema. Micheaux’s films have been shown in black-owned theaters and have not been reviewed by white publications.

Haygood considers “Gone with the Wind” and the stereotype of the black maid; the making of Douglas Sirk’s last Hollywood film, the daringly interracial “Imitation of Life” (1959); and the obstacle-filled careers of artists like Paul Robeson, Dorothy Dandridge, James Edwards and Lena Horne.

There is a chapter on “Porgy and Bess” by Otto Preminger, which dates from its release in 1959, almost 25 years after the premiere of George Gershwin’s opera. Young playwright Lorraine Hansberry said: “We oppose roles that consistently portray our women as bad and our men as weak. We don’t want to see six-footer Sidney Poitier kneeling down crying for a girl in a slit skirt. “

Haygood writes about Poitier, which seemed to come out of a dream many Americans planned to have, and Harry Belafonte; the arrival of Melvin Van Peebles, Pam Grier and the so-called blaxploitation genre; talents, largely wasted by Hollywood, actors such as Billy Dee Williams; and the disaster that was “The Wiz” (1978).

The following chapters salute the careers of directing stars such as Spike Lee, John Singleton, Ava DuVernay, Steve McQueen and Jordan Peele, and trace a related set of influences.

This cinematic story takes place against the backdrop of American history, from the Scottsboro Boys and Tuskegee Airmen to Rodney King, Clarence Thomas, Barack Obama and Black Lives Matter.

Credit…Jeff Sabo

It also works against how the Oscars ignored black performance. Federico Fellini, at the 1993 Oscars, unwittingly pointed out why it mattered when he said, “Movies and America are almost the same thing.”

As you read, you might find yourself making lists of movies to watch or re-watch: the pre-Code “Baby Face” (1933) with Barbara Stanwyck and black actress Theresa Harris; “House of the brave”; “Field lilies”; “Duel to Diablo”; “Sounder”; “Rivière Canne”; “Get on the bus”; “I love Jones.”

I spent an afternoon watching the trailers for these movies and many others mentioned by Haygood. I’ve been reminded that watching a sequential trailer is a vastly underrated pleasure.

Cinema, it goes without saying, is a unique art form in the sense that many of us become children again in front of a moving image. Our defenses are down. We aspire to watch, often enough, with the simple heart of a child.

This fact about movies, Haygood knows, has made the worst of them particularly harmful to blacks in the last century in America. It was a problem that had many aspects. James Baldwin expressed one of them this way: “It’s a great shock to see Gary Cooper kill the Indians and, although you are in favor of Gary Cooper, the Indians are you. ”

Stale language begins to creep in towards the end. It is high time that an ambitious young editor invented a search widget called ClicheCatcher ™ to regularly run manuscripts before they go to print.

Yet this is an important and lively popular story. Like a good movie, it skips right from the start. (Haygood was wise to omit an introduction.) Like a good movie, too, the circle has come full circle.

Haygood acknowledges that Wilson was a particularly racist president, even by the standards of his day. On the last page of “Colorization,” he notes that in June 2020, Wilson’s alma mater, Princeton, announced that a building bearing his name would no longer bear him.

Source Link

COMMENTS

Name

Africa,909,Americas,4292,Art & Culture,15745,Arts,6720,Arts & Design,1841,Asia,3514,Automobile,519,Baseball,775,Basketball,606,Books,4129,Business,5593,Celebrity,2633,Cricket,648,Crime,158,Cryptocurrency,1952,Dance,649,Defense,836,Diplomatic Relations,2496,Economy,1303,Editorial,260,Education,1424,Elections,308,Energy & Environment,3134,Entertainment,23389,Environment,3871,Europe,4455,Faith & Religion,235,Family & Life,817,Fashion & Style,3554,Finance,21196,Food & Drink,4030,Football,1227,Games,97,Gossip,10289,Health & Fitness,4374,Health Care,957,Hockey,248,Home & Garden,920,Humour,994,Latin America,49,Lifestyle,18139,Media,527,Middle East,1674,Movies,1953,Music,2878,Opinion,3746,Other,12786,Other Sports,5350,Political News,11324,Political Protests,2324,Politics,18464,Real Estate,2156,Relationship,106,Retail,3116,Science,2871,Science & Tech,10843,Soccer,336,Space & Cosmos,406,Sports,13117,Technology,3695,Tennis,682,Theater,1876,Transportation,313,Travel,2767,TV,3917,US,1279,US Sports,1481,Video News,3531,War & Conflict,1069,Weird News,998,World,17675,
ltr
item
Newsrust - US Top News: A radical new story looks back on 100 years of noir cinema
A radical new story looks back on 100 years of noir cinema
https://static01.nyt.com/images/2021/10/18/books/18haygood3/18haygood3-facebookJumbo.jpg
Newsrust - US Top News
https://www.newsrust.com/2021/10/a-radical-new-story-looks-back-on-100.html
https://www.newsrust.com/
https://www.newsrust.com/
https://www.newsrust.com/2021/10/a-radical-new-story-looks-back-on-100.html
true
732247599994189300
UTF-8
Loaded All Posts Not found any posts VIEW ALL Readmore Reply Cancel reply Delete By Home PAGES POSTS View All RECOMMENDED FOR YOU LABEL ARCHIVE SEARCH ALL POSTS Not found any post match with your request Back Home Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat January February March April May June July August September October November December Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec just now 1 minute ago $$1$$ minutes ago 1 hour ago $$1$$ hours ago Yesterday $$1$$ days ago $$1$$ weeks ago more than 5 weeks ago Followers Follow THIS PREMIUM CONTENT IS LOCKED STEP 1: Share to a social network STEP 2: Click the link on your social network Copy All Code Select All Code All codes were copied to your clipboard Can not copy the codes / texts, please press [CTRL]+[C] (or CMD+C with Mac) to copy Table of Content